Consider the word “manage” for a moment. Account executives “manage clients’ expectations”—that is, they make sure people aren’t hoping for too much. In football, quarterbacks with marginal talent are asked to be “game managers”—their job is to not make stupid decisions or turn the ball over. Synonyms for manage include make do, get along, and muddle through. Sounds to me like surviving, but certainly not thriving.
Similarly, sales managers who meet the basics of the job description are a dime a dozen. They “set objectives,” and “plan, organize, direct and control sales staff to meet these objectives.” They “understand departmental financial data.” They “recruit, select, orient, and train employees. ”
Each phrase above is familiar and speaks to the fact that a sales manager is, not surprisingly, responsible for 1) sales and 2) managing people. But how do sales managers excel in this position and develop a team of sales gladiators who succeed in any economy? By redefining the role completely and become coaches instead of settling for just being managers.
What does “managing” look like on your sales team? Selling just enough homes to stay more or less even with the competition? Barely hitting your monthly targets for new sales? What if instead your team ran up the score on the competition? What if it sold so much that your builder had to hire more staff in other departments to keep up? What would that do for your team’s morale—and your job security?
Here are three things that distinguish a coach from a manager:
Coaches Go Beyond the Minimum
Coaches who think big—and require team members to do the same—reach far higher than the minimum expectations. We all have benchmarks we’re required to hit in order to keep our jobs. But those should just be a starting point. Coaches don’t settle for just plugging leaks and staying afloat. They set sail to explore territory no one’s even seen before.
Coaches Believe in Themselves And Their Teams
Knowing where you want to go is great, but having a plan for how you’re going to get there with the pieces you have to work with is better. Coaches learn team members’ strengths and where they have room for improvement. They set clear expectations for what defines success for each individual, then hold them to those expectations. Coaches give everyone a chance to improve and leave no one the option to put it in cruise control.
Coaches Think Unconventionally
Managers try to maintain the level of production they inherited. They study the playbook someone else has written and follow orders as best they can. Coaches rewrite the book, drawing on past successes without getting locked into trying to reproduce them and always searching for the next big idea no one has ever tried.
Unlike their mediocre counterparts, coaches and team members alike trust the best quarterbacks to lead team members, call plays, and make split-second decisions crucial to the flow of the game. Similarly, exceptional managers can be trusted with more than the basics and become much more than managers. They becomes coaches. Competent managers are a dime a dozen. Great coaches are one in a million. Which will you be?