I took this opportunity to interview a colleague of mine, John Samson, who manages three teams of inside sales representative for a large web hosting company. He is a counter part for another manager who manages three teams in Florida. He has been a manager in the retail and sales fields for over 10 years. This is what he had to say.
I asked John to explain what it is like for him on an average day. The sales department of an organization is one of the most vital departments. The reason why the sales department has so much importance is because the success or failure of the company depends on the sales team. If the sales team fails to meet its targets, this means that the entire business will run a loss for that sales quarter. It is thus very essential that whoever manages the sales department of a business is skilled, competent. The majority of my time is spent putting out fires. I usually get approached by someone on my team about an irate customer that needed an escalation or about a discrepancy in the commission reports, interviewing to fill an open position, scheduling meetings and ongoing training for my employees for example. Managing a sales team requires a diverse set of skills: interpersonal relations, conflict management, delegation, finance, customer satisfaction...it sometimes can be overwhelming.
Motivation is critical on the sales floor. The best way I have found to keep momentum and vitality on the floor is to pump up my teams with incentives. The whole nature of sales is to make money! When I incentivize my reps with contests, you feel the buzz, the momentum is back. I am a stickler for being on time. I would say almost obsessive about it. I have been a manager for long enough to know that most people are not as extreme as I am. My way of addressing this is to over communicate how important this is to me and over emphasize it. Make