Hi Everyone. I’m Matthew Bellows, Founder and CEO of Yesware. Yesware makes software for salespeople. But I’m not here to talk about Yesware. The topic I chose for today is the “10 Qualities of Great Sales Managers”
Why did I want to talk about this? Because transitioning from sales person to sales manager is the most difficult move for a sales person.
Who has made this transition already? Who here aspires to go from sales person to sales manager?
The first question you need to ask yourself about that goal is “Why do I want to do it?” What’s your motivation? I recently talked with one new sales manager who described how he was organizing his team to get them to set up all the meetings for him, so he could close bigger deals.
That’s the kind of sales manager we’re not going to talk about here. We’re going to talk about the kind of sales manager who thinks about other people first. In fact, that’s a great filter to use when hiring a sales manager, or interviewing to work for one. Do they think of other people first?
I’m not a great sales manager. I’ve been a sales manager several times, both at startups and in publicly traded companies. At Yesware, I tried to be the sales manager while also being the CEO. I was so bad at it that the NYT wrote a two-part case study about all the mistakes I made!
No, I’m one of the many good hardworking sales people that should never be a sales manager. But at various times I’ve had the role thrust on me, or I’ve argued for it because I felt it was the only viable next step at the company. Why am I not a great sales manager? I’ll get to that in a bit.
But I’ve worked for and with great sales managers in the past.
This is Canby Dautel, classic hard driving, whip cracking VP of Sales. He and his best guy Will Yapp were responsible for my first startup success back in 1995.
This is Suzy Reider, funny, creative, VP Sales at CNET, to whom I sold my first company. She inspired so much loyalty and hard work that it almost killed the company when she left CNET for YouTube.
And this is Bridget Gleason, Yesware’s VP of Sales, who came in and fixed all the busted stuff I left on the ground while trying to build our first sales team.
At Yesware, we also work with some of the best sales managers at some of the fastest growing companies in the world. As part of my job, I’ve been lucky enough to spend time and learn from sales managers at Groupon, Forrester, Zendesk, Acquia, Adroll and many others.
So this is not a talk coming from a sales management guru who has done it all before and is going to reveal the secrets. No, this is a talk from the point of view of a sales person and a CEO who loves and respects great sales management. Who needs great sales management. I’m going to share with you my take on the 10 most important qualities of a great sales manager, and then walk you through an exercise to help you become a better one.
But first, let’s ask the question: Why do it? What’s your motivation to become a better sales manager? There’s this quote…
In other words, think back on the worst manager you’ve ever had. Think about how bad she or he made you feel. Why would you want to do that to anyone else? Revenge? The manager won’t care! In fact, you will probably make them happy! They taught you how to be evil too!
Now think about what it’s like to work for an awesome manager. Maybe you never have. So imagine the perfect manager. The idealized manager. What is that person like?
Anyone know this person? That’s Pat Summitt, the most successful college basketball coach in history, with 1,098 wins and 8 national titles.
I submit to you that the perfect sales manager has 10 crucial qualities.
Thinks of others first
Will tackle the tough issues
Always learning, mostly listening
Not defeated by life circumstances
Not haha funny usually
An edge, but rarely seen
This is serious. This is work
Won’t go down without a fight.
Solid. Steady under fire.
How do you develop these qualities? Well, that’s what the piece of paper on your seat is for…
Build on strengths. Examine 4-6 as qualities that maybe you aren’t giving yourself enough credit for. Acknowledge Weaknesses. Find ways to work around them, compensate for them. It’s ok to have weaknesses.
What if you are wrong in your assessment? Good question. We’ve got extra sheets in the back. Copy them and pass them around to people at work. If it’s anonymous, you will learn how others see you.
Over the next day or so, choose 3 qualities that you want to work on.
The most important part of improving is to talk with someone about what you are doing. You can’t keep it all in.
It could be a colleague, friend, mentor, wife, husband. HEY! I’ve got an idea! How about telling YOUR manager! They should be willing and supportive! You should be able to reveal your areas for improvement to your manager without fear of blame or reprocussion!
Does that make anyone feel nervous?
Well, then please don’t make your team feel like that when they come to you feeling vulnerable and looking for support doing something hard.
If you can’t find anyone, you can email me here:
Once you’ve decided on your Qualities to improve and you’ve told someone about it, you need two more things: A Plan and Some Reminders
A Plan is easy. What direct, specific actions are you going to take to improve these qualities? For example, “I’m going to rely to all emails within 24 hours” to improve my consistency. It could be non-work related too… “I’m going to exercize a little every day because it improves my energy and I feel more Optimisitic.”
Reminders: this is easy too. Post-it Notes are the tool of choice here. Here’s my setup at work (photo to come) with my job duties on the left and the Qualities that I’m working on to the right. Can’t miss it. We all forget. This will help.
Thank you for taking on the awesome responsibility of being a sales manager. You hold in your hand the work environment of your whole team. Obviously, you can’t make other people happy. But you can create an environment where they can achieve their professional goals, and where they can become better people. As their manager, you are the primary example of that. So thank you for trying to become a great sales manager. And thank you for your attention.
Sales Hacker Conference Boston - Matt Bellows - Top 10 Qualities of Great Sales Managers