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Sales Managers Need To Be All-In

A recent podcast with sales trainer Greg Bennett got me thinking about what sales managers should focus on. He mentions during the podcast several times that a manager or trainer needs to have “skin in the game” in order for selling to be success.

I think that’s a very important statement.

Back in October 2008 as Eastern Washington University’s ticket manager, I was humbled by a student caller’s response to me. It made me rethink how I was looking at sales management, and what each caller sees or expects from me.

Aside from my day shift, I would spend Monday through Thursday from 6p to 9p training a student sales center to make outbound customer service and ticket calls to single game buyers of our football and basketball teams. The goal was to sell them on a two-game starter pack for football, to work them up the escalator toward a season ticket.

I trained my student sales staff on call techniques, gave them the list, and put them to work. Then I noticed a quick drop-off of good calls from week one to week two.

What was the difference?

I couldn’t put my finger on it. Everything just seemed as if it wasn’t as coordinated from our staff during the second and third night.

Frustrated, by the last shift of the week, I quizzed one of my seniors, who was never shy about giving his option.

What he said was chilling, mainly because it humbled me.

“It’s a little different when you’re the guy on the phone call, rather than the guy asking about how the phone call went.”

It floored me, but put a lot of things into perspective.

I was asking my student callers to make the out-bound calls, but not making enough of my own in their presence. I was doing all of my calls during the day shift, leaving nothing at night.

I didn’t have “skin in the game” and it showed to those making the calls for me.

In my defense, I was training a lot of them during this period. However, picking up the phone wouldn’t deter me from that.

Being humbled, especially be a student caller, was good for me. I decided that I needed to be better. To grow from the experience.

I grabbed a phone and did about 20 calls during that last shift of the week. The difference was drastic. Suddenly, there was some heat in the call room. The student callers started making better calls, better choices, on the phone because they hear the ones that I was making with prospects.

In sales management, we tend to get more of a work load which suppresses what we are good at. We used to make a lot of great calls, that’s how we got to the higher position, which now requires us to make less calls in order to help others with their calls. That hamstrings the very operation which is supposed to benefit from promoting a sales person to management sometimes.

It really comes down to having an all-in as a sales manager. Don’t ask anything of your staff that you aren’t willing to do yourself. Plus, its helpful for your reps to see someone with more experience start to go through the sales process with a prospect.

It doesn’t mean that every call made by a sales manager is going to be perfect. But sales reps need to see that as well.

It’s about having “skin in the game.”

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