One of the great things in what I do is the opportunity to meet a range of thinkers and doers involved in sales and helping others sell better. So when one of these people, in this case, David A. Brock writes a book on a critical subject like sales management, it is an opportunity to learn and share with others in my circle. But when the subject is one you can relate because you have lived it, it is a bonus.
Sales Manager Survival Guide: Lessons From Sales’ Front Lines, is a book I wish I had way back when I was promoted from being territory rep to sales manager. At the time I floundered to make the transition, and worked hard to understand the difference between selling and leading a sales team, a process and transition that would have considerably easier and more productive had I had the Sales Manager Survival Guide.
The book is laid out to help you succeed in the role. Notice I said the role, not just if you are new to sales management, this book will help you whether you are new sales manager, or have the benefit of experience. In fact, the more years you’ve been doing it, the more you are likely to get out of this book, on first read, and beyond.
Starting with the key definitions and elements of the role. A point that is often glossed over is not just that managing is different than selling, and that while your past experience and successes will help you, it is no longer about you doing it, it is about getting “things done through your people”. As Dave highlights this is not about doing for them, or telling them, it is about getting things done through your team. This clearly leads to a focus on coaching.
The book looks at this from the ground up, Dave avoids the trap of using “coaching” as a catch phrase for some many things talked about a lot, rarely done right. Right up front he lets the reader know that “coaching is the highest leverage activity a manager can take to drive the performance of his people”. From there he goes into great detail about the difference between managing and coaching. Dave introduces introduce stats to help frame things, helps you to see the difference between coaching and the fact that coaching is ongoing not periodic. I love the line “Coaching is a contact sport! You can’t fake it.” Too many do try and fake, or want to make it a genteel feel good exercise. It is not it is about driving performance, and that requires contact, not a hit, but contact/connection between the coach and the rep whose performance you need to affect.
The book follows through looking at recruiting and onboarding, managing performance. I love Part Six, the exploration of the Tactical side of success. Sales is all about execution, and in this part Dave breaks it down in a way you can put in to practice right away; you will be able to apply this to your world, rather than having to apply your world to suit the methodology.
As a bonus, Dave concludes with a discussion of what manager need to understand about success in the role beyond impacting the performance of their team, and to improve manage and develop themselves, again, an ongoing process.
You can make the transition from front line sales to front line management, you can become a leader who develops great sellers, but that will not happen by osmosis, which seemed to be the plan when I was promoted. Lucky for you, you won’t have to, you can succeed by embracing the steps, tools and practices presented by David Brock in Sales Manager Survival Guide.