We’ve all heard of Situational Leadership—the notion that every sales management challenge is different and you can’t use the same managerial style all the time. And yet too many sales managers are still One-Trick Ponies. They only use one management approach.
One-Trick Pony sales managers pat themselves on the back for consistency. “People know where I stand,” they tell themselves. The problem is they’re often standing in the way. They never learned that to be an effective manager, you must master a broad repertoire of managerial styles and have the ability to analyze a situation and deploy precisely the right style.
There are lots of good managerial style models out there. This article isolates six distinct sales management styles. Here they are, with an example of when each is effective and when it isn’t.
Command & Control: “I know what’s best, you don’t”
– Effective with brand new reps or in emergencies where the manager needs to take control of a high-volume sale.
– Ineffective when managing star sellers.
Goal-Setting: “I’m the leader. Here’s the strategy”
– Effective if you deploy resources in pursuit of the right goal.
– Ineffective if you set the wrong goals and send your team in the wrong direction.
Democratic: “Let’s work together”
– Effective when planning how to execute the strategy.
– Ineffective in emergencies where the manager needs to take control of a high-impact sale.
Relating: “I’m interested in you as a person”
– Effective when your goal is to boost morale or create a friendly work environment.
– Ineffective when a rep is really struggling and needs firm direction.
Hands On: “You’re stuck. Let me fix it for you”
-Effective when a sales rep needs you to “model the way” and, for example, close a sale for him or her
-Ineffective with strong salespeople who need to figure things out on their own.
Coaching: “Let me teach you how to fish”
-Effective whenever your time investment will yield a payoff.
-Ineffective when an employee lacks the ability or willingness to master the selling skill you’re teaching.
The next time you face a sales management challenge, choose your style carefully.
photo credit: ReneS
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