Sales Management Challenges: 3 of 6 - Where are you on the Sales Management Continuum?

It's so important that universities offer courses about it, scholarly publications are written about it, and towns hold meetings about it.

We're talking about management. In particular, the sales management continuum.

I'd like to share the benefits of my 30-year experience in sales and marketing with you. This series of blogs tackles 6 of the top sales challenges with sound advice and a practical 'do today' tip.

Sales Challenge #3: How to choose the correct spot on the Sales Management Continuum

Managing the sales process is more than just giving direction and forecasting.

Managing, or leading a motivated, high performing sales team is both an art and a science. It requires the leader to adopt the right approach for the right people at the right time--it's a dynamic role.

As I frequently remind many of my clients when something goes wrong - it may not be your fault, but it's your problem, and nothing could be truer than when you are managing a sales team. The challenge is to understand how you should be managing the current challenge (or opportunity) that you are faced with.

We get sales leaders to look at what we call the management continuum. The continuum spans:   

Supervisor < > Manager < > Coach < > Mentor.

Supervisors (usually nicely) tell people what to do, usually in the areas of policy, process and procedure.  Your new team member joins and you tell him how to fill out his expenses and how you use CRM, etc.

Managers plan, direct and support their sales people. They point them in the right direction and keep them on track, focused, and motivated to "do willingly and well the tasks that need to be done" - selling!  

Coaches get the best out of their teams by unlocking each person's potential to maximize his or her own performance. Coaches focus on helping people learn rather than teaching them--you don't coach someone on filling out their expenses or using CRM!

Mentors treat their mentees (carefully if they are, in reality, subordinates) as peers, working collegially to get the job done and improve [an already good] performance.  Mentors and mentees work things out between them.

There is a time and a place for everything. As a sales leader, you need to operate back and forth along the continuum as is appropriate for the situation in which you find yourself.

Do-today Tip #3: Ask yourself--I am managing or leading? Am I using the appropriate style for the sales management issue at hand, in this specific instance, with this specific person?

Next time, we'll take a look at how to motivate your team.

Read more:
How to Create Clearly Defined Sales Processes and Sales Objectives
How to Build the Right Team

How good are you at navigating the sales management continuum? Got a tip to share? I'll personally give you a 'thumbs up' if it's a good one. I am also ready to tackle your questions. You know what to do--comment box, type, hit 'post'...

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