You just don't jump into a job as a sales manager, and specifically a field sales manager position. You need training, special skills, practice, and knowing what your role is. There's a balance of leading, letting people do their job, and reporting into your company. It doesn't happen overnight.
- You were an outstanding field representative, weren't you? You wouldn't have got promoted or be considered for a field sales management position if you weren't. Yes, being a field sales representative was so great. You had some outstanding years out there, some record sale successes, and the amazing relationships you established with your accounts was often spoken about in staff meetings. Well, I'm about to bring you back to reality. Did you read the job description for field sales manager? It does say sales in your title, but it's so different than the one you had as a sales representative with a territory.
You're not calling on accounts and bringing in new business anymore. Your primary responsibilities now are to ensure your team of salespeople are productive. Hitting and exceeding sales targets and doing it profitably. I had a manager who's laser focus was the field sales manager's job is to hit the numbers and not overspend while doing it. There's some truth to that, but that's certainly not the most encouraging way to approach it. Beyond revenue and numbers, there are so many productive and positive responsibilities of a manger that ultimately lead to that.
It's what makes the job of a field sales manager fun and rewarding. Your company will have some specific objectives for you to follow, but these are some that are pretty much universal. Hiring. Goes without saying that this function is critical and you'll get assistance from your human resources department, but you have to own this. A weak hire will not only cost you time and expense, but lost revenue, too. Coaching and training. The best sales managers are great coaches and work closely with each salesperson to develop them.
This ties into the overall corporate training strategy and individual programs you may initiate. Evaluation. This is a part of the entire development process of your team. You need to ensure that your stars are able to shine and those who need assistance are getting it. It's also about making moves quickly and respectfully when things aren't working. Communication. Balancing the needs from the field and those from the office requires honest and frequent communication.
There's a real learning curve with this and you need to see it as an important responsibility. Customer relationship management software. The use of your company's CRM or other form of account tracking is so important that it needs to be a standalone objective. Motivation. This ability is another responsibility that separates the real leader of a team of sales professionals and the mediocre manager. Leadership. You'll protect your team by keeping your salespeople away from too many corporate meetings that can derail them.
However, it's also about knowing when to bring in the VP of sales, marketing, or even a higher level team member to help with a customer and close a sale. Finance. This covers everything from sales forecasting, expense tracking, and budgeting, to setting sales targets, compensation, planning, and incentive payouts. Hopefully you have a business manager or a financial manager to assist you, but even if you don't you need to be skilled with this.
There are a lot of moving parts and more responsibilities than you might suspect initially. You may need some additional training in some areas, or like any job, time to get a good feel of the role. The diverse aspect of the job, the opportunity to really make an impact on people, and the success of your company is what makes being a field sales manager exciting.
In this course, follow sales coach Dean Karrel as he explains what's unique about training, managing, and leading field salespeople. He covers topics such as the importance of giving field salespeople their independence, communicating remotely, the challenges of CRM, the need for travel, guiding your team through tough times, and managing performance from a distance.
- Understanding the role of a manager
- Managing up and managing down
- Leading those in the field
- Empowering your salespeople
- Managing meetings and check-ins
- Guiding your team through tough market conditions