Sales managers are like Army generals. The ones who stand on the front lines and lead their troops into battle – or into a sale – are certainly heroic, but usually wind up going down in a blaze of glory. Great generals, on the other hand, don’t get into the thick of the battle. Instead, “they are planning the next battle – and the battle after that,” says William “Skip” Miller, CEO of M3 Learning and author of More ProActive Sales Management. Even during today’s fight, they are getting their troops ready for the next three to six months.
“From a sales management perspective, way too many sales organizations have their sales managers running around trying to close business,” says Miller. Sure, it looks good in the moment as sales numbers get a boost and the sales team sees their manager in the thick of things. But these “lead from the front” managers are doing their team a long-term disservice. They’re making their sales team dependent on them and they’re failing to ready them for the future. Imagine if George Washington had been surprised by the snow and cold at Valley Forge, explains Miller. Imagine his troops untrained to fight in these conditions and lacking the proper supplies because Washington had been too “busy with the troops over at the gun-cleaning seminar” to ready them for this battle.
With that in mind, ask yourself: Are you readying your troops to fight the battles of the future? Or are you hovering over them at the gun-cleaning seminar? Instead of helping sales reps close sales, Miller says there are five things sales managers should be focusing on:
When you stay focused on these five areas, you’ll be doing far more to help your team than you could possibly accomplish by riding with them into battle. As good generals do, train your team, make them ready in all ways to fight the battles of the future – and then step back and let them fight while you continue to look down the road.