Sales Management Simplified: Q&A with Mike Weinberg


Share on LinkedIn

I don’t like sales & marketing books that are too long for no good reason.  Books that could have been ten pages long but instead ramble on for 300+.  I also don’t like sales & marketing books that are boring, which often means they are written poorly.

Mike Weinberg‘s new book, Sales Management. Simplified., is the complete opposite – it is jammed full of great content and insights, it is wonderfully written, and it does a great job of both informing and entertaining throughout.

If you’ve read his previous book, New Sales. Simplified., or followed his content via his blog or social channels, you’ll likely agree this comes as no surprise.

I recently caught up with Mike to talk more about sales management, why it’s often overlooked and under appreciated, and how both marketing and non-sales leaders can better support their sales management counterparts.

Why aren’t there more books about sales management?  There are so many about sales strategy, but relatively few that give sales managers specific guidance on how to empower and lead their teams.  Why has this been a gap in the sales literature?

I honestly don’t know why there are not more books on sales management. That’s part of what compelled me to write Sales Management. Simplified. What’s crazy to me is that it’s the sales leader who is the key leverage point to drive sales team performance improvement but there are probably 500 books on sales for every one on sales leadership! Think what might happen to sales results if companies devoted even half the money and energy to raising the game of the sales leader as they for their salespeople.

What are some of the key points of weakness among well-meaning sales leaders that you address in the book?

Matt, there is so much bizarre sales management theory and behavior today that it’s hard to know where to start. Part of the problem is that many senior executives and companies have lost sight of the primary job of the sales manager. Most sales managers are overwhelmed because their own companies bury them in unimaginable amounts of crap. In reality, the typical sales managers spends more time sitting in meetings, on conference calls and plowing through administrative work than they do on high-value, team leadership, revenue driving activities. That’s maddening.

Some managers do this to themselves by taking their eye of the sales leadership ball and getting distracted trying to solve other problems in the company. And no answer to a question on this topic would be complete without mentioning desk jockey sales managers attempting to lead their teams via email and the CRM! The bottom-line consequence of all these reasons is that most sales teams are under-led, under-coached and therefore underperform.

When companies are looking for good sales manager candidates, what attributes should they be looking for?  What traits help sales managers be more successful?

Without a doubt, the number one trait I’d look for is strong leadership skills. I’ve seen phenomenal sales managers who were not sales experts, but the reverse is not true. You almost never find a great manager who knows sales but is a terrible leader. Beyond that, great managers understand that their job is to win through their people. They are motivated to create heroes on their team, not to be the hero. It takes a special person who can subjugate his/her own ego and deflect credit so the salesperson gets the glory instead of the manager.

And I’d also add that thick skin and self-confidence go a long way. Critique goes hand in hand with sales management. It’s a tough job and everyone wants a piece of you. To survive and thrive, you have to believe in yourself and live with the absolute conviction that you are working on the right things — because everyone will have an opinion on how you should do your job and spend your time.

Should a company’s top sales rep be on a path to management?  (as I ask this, I can already see you getting worked up….)

That’s not an easy question to answer. The reality is that there is almost nothing similar between being an individual producer in sales and being a sales manager. Almost nothing. Also, because there is such a shortage of A-Player sales talent, I’m typically hesitant to move a top-producer out of sales and into management. But there are times that works and works well. I’d point people back to my previous answer.

If the salesperson is willing to deflect credit, understand that you face more pressure, have more headaches and less freedom, typically make less money, and exhibits really strong leadership traits, then that seller might make a star manager.

What role can marketing play to make sales management more successful as well?

No one asks that, Matt. So, thank you!  From my perspective, there are two areas where marketing can most help sales leadership. First, marketing can help provide clarity on the right markets and accounts to proactively pursue for new business. Sales management should be pointing the sales team the right direction and any help in this area would be appreciated.

And second, marketing should help arm the sales team with powerful weapons for the sales attack. How great would it be if marketing could put a compelling “sales story” and tools to tell that story into the sales manager’s hands? Most sales teams I observe are under-armed. There is a lot of room to better equip salespeople for battle.

What’s your advice for entrepreneurs who haven’t worked with sales managers previously?

My advice for visionary entrepreneurs and founders is simple and likely something they don’t hear very often: Remember that your people are not you and they can’t do what you can do! I’ve personally worked with many classic, uber-talented, highly confident, sales rock star entrepreneurs who live with constant frustration toward their sales organization. They’re frustrated because they tend to forget that the people who work for them are not superheroes who can sell a vision with smoke and mirrors like they can.

Sales leaders and reps require more a tad more direction and clarity than these visionary leaders are accustomed to providing. Entrepreneur CEOs should find a buttoned-down sales leader whose talents complement theirs and then give that person the latitude to manage. And please keep in mind that most managers and seller’s brains don’t operate the ways their brains do. So be willing to have the time and patience to help your sales team develop a solid plan and process to execute the vision.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here