worlds greatest boss mugAs a new sales manager, your role may be to improve sales, streamline a process and/or boost employee productivity. Under the circumstances, it may be tempting to focus on what’s not working. However, salespeople are just like all other human beings who appreciate encouragement and gratitude. To steer the sales process in a productive direction, you’re better off focusing on the positives.

Generate a Positive Rapport with Your Sales Team

Building a positive relationship with your sales team is an important first step. Your team may be set in its ways or unaccustomed to your leadership style, making it important to create an environment that is conducive to adaptation and growth. Consider establishing the following practices:

  • Get to know all sales team members. You can do this through in-person meetings, phone calls and emails, and by reviewing sales performance history. The more interest you show in each person’s characteristics and accomplishments, the easier it is to convey sincerity and build trust.
  • Identify several positive qualities in each salesperson. One team member may be a quick thinker who easily devises solutions for clients’ problems. Another may have the right personality for connecting with new clients and warming them up to your products or services.
  • Assign tasks based on each person’s strengths. Giving presentations to hundreds of prospective clients may be one person’s strength and the cause of many sleepless nights for another. If you aren’t quite sure, ask your team members what they enjoy doing most. Some might excel in phone sales. Others may be skilled in navigating social media, and others may know how to create winning sales presentations.
  • Create incentives and recognize excellent performance. A salesperson of the month award or even highlighting a job well done on weekly conference calls may motivate everyone to try harder, be more creative or to do more.

Figure Out What Is Working

If the company has been performing poorly for quite some time or experiencing a drastic drop in sales, the problem may be related to the product or service, sales strategies and/or sales team weaknesses. The natural tendency is to focus on everything that isn’t working, and while that is an essential part of the process, building on strengths is often more effective. For example, you might:

  • Identify the winning product or service.  Focus on the higher selling product or service, and use it to attract more clients.
  • Observe the strategies that generate the most sales. For example, two team members might make sales calls using the same sales script, yet one consistently performs better than the other. Observe the more successful salesperson to determine his or her winning strategy.
  • Strengthen sales skills using positive, high-quality training sessions. Whenever possible, convey strategies that do work rather than words and behaviors to avoid. While an “avoid” list may be a necessary part of training, it’s always important to provide constructive advice about what to say and do to meet a client’s needs.

As you focus on the positive characteristics of your sales team and build on existing sales strengths, you can also do the same for yourself. Determine the positive qualities that you can bring to this new sales environment and capitalize on those. And if your job demands specific attributes or skills that you do not possess, don’t dwell too much. Give members of your team who do have the particular skills an opportunity to shine by delegating to their strengths.