10 Important Competencies of a Sales Manager
One of the sure ways of determining the professional level of a sales manager is to assess his or her professional competencies. Special tasks and case studies can help identify the strengths and weaknesses of any seller. They can be applied at the stage of candidate selection and to the employees that already work in the Sales Department. So let's look at the list of core competencies:
Expanding the client base
Naturally, every company aims to attract new customers. If the sales manager claims be an active seller, it is important to find out how he or she expands the customer base? Where does the manager look for new customers, what are his or her methods of working with information? He does the manager determine the decision-maker in a company and interact with this person?
A good seller will give you a plan of action to attract new customers. Ideally, it will identify a potential client base, based on the specifics of the company, its products or services; the seller should show you where he or she is looking for clients; how he or she works with the obtained information and contacts the decision-makers.
The ability to sell according to a sales technology
It is possible that your candidate is a natural in selling: he or she can sell snow to an Eskimo or an umbrella to a fish. But even under this condition, it is important to know at what level he owns the technology of sales. In other words, how he sells the goods: intuitively or according to a particular technology.
Ask the candidate about the stages of a sale. If he or she describes them confidently, step by step, with real examples, based on personal experience in the field of sales, you can safely say: the person has the right skills.
Also, you can ask the candidate to assess his or her own knowledge, for example, on a scale from 1 to 5.
The degree of efficiency of the manager
Find out how useful a particular sales manager is in your company, based on his or her previous experience. Ask the candidate the following questions:
How often did the sales department meet sales plans under your leadership? How often was the target beaten?
What was your performance in comparison with other sellers of the department?
Which customers did you personally brought into the company?
What is your biggest deal? Can you in detail describe the process of this transaction?
What difficulties did you experience and overcome?
Such questions are aimed at clarifying the real extent of manager’s efficiency. If he or she answers questions clearly and thoroughly, most likely, the performance of the employee on the previous place of work was really high.
The desire to grow and develop in sales
A good manager usually has a desire to grow and develop in the professional field. Therefore, you must determine whether the candidate wants to conquer new heights in sales. The following questions will help you with that:
What attracts you in the profession and why?
What are the difficulties you experience at your position? How do you overcome them?
What is the most difficult part of your job?
What salary would you like to get in a year?
Whom, where and how do you see yourself in three years? Five years from now?
Please explain what for you "to be a successful sales manager" means. Do you meet your own criteria? If not, then what you lack?
Work with clients
Give the candidate a brief description of the product or service your company sells and the description of an average customer (needs, income, status, etc.). Then ask the Manager, which personal qualities, in his view, would the customer expect from the seller?
After that, there can be two possible situations. In the first case, the applicant will use characteristics corresponding to the company – reliability, availability, reasonable price of the product, etc. Thus, he or she will focus on the external qualities of the company without naming the competencies that he or she is supposed to demonstrate as a sales manager. Well, such a candidate has a lot to learn
In the second case, the candidate will name competence, diligence, accuracy, quick responding, and other characteristics inherent in a seller. If get this answer, congratulations, the candidate is really experienced in the sales field.
Ask the candidate which of these qualities, strengths, and weaknesses he or she has. What personality trait can attract a client to him or her? These questions will help you to understand the level of competence.
Working with discounts
Ask the manager to solve the following problem: a customer asks for a discount that the company is unable to provide.
An experienced manager will offer 3 to 5 options along the following lines:
What can we offer instead of a discount?
We can provide this discount when you purchase XXX amount of goods;
We can provide you with an additional service instead;
We can offer you a somewhat smaller discount, but with most convenience;
I would love to give you that discount, but, unfortunately, in our company, there are certain rules and I must respect them.
"I'm afraid it will be unfair to other clients. We all work according to a specific pattern. I think that you wouldn’t want us to spoil our reputation in the market."
This case allows identifying the variability and flexibility of seller’s thinking process, knowledge of sales, the ability of the manager to make contact and search for innovative solutions.
Invite the manager to solve this problem: some product was delivered too late but it out of sales manager’s control. However, the claim was addressed to him or her. With this case, you can evaluate the skills of the manager as a negotiator, his or her ability to work with claims and the ability to resolve conflicts in general.
A good seller will provide the scheme of action similar to the following one:
Apologize for the incident and take the situation under control.
Learn about the problem in detail and specify possible solutions to the problem.
Get all information available from the employee who was responsible for delivery and try to resolve the conflict, based on the needs of the client and the interests of the company.
Communicate with the client and report on what steps have already been taken to solve the problem.
Come to the agreement with the customer on what the company can do to avoid such situations in the future.
Come to the agreement with colleagues on how to avoid such problems in the future.
Working with doubting clients
Invite the manager to resolve the following situation: the client looks at prices and says "I am not sure, it is too expensive." How will candidate convince the customer to make a purchase?
The manager must listen to the objections of the buyer, take them into account, and ask clarifying questions. Only after that, the manager can give arguments in favor of the product of the company. He or she can say, "You're right, the issue of the price is really important for both you and our company. Can you, please, clarify if you compare with some other price or are there other reasons?" Depending on the answer, the manager must give 2-3 arguments in favor of your company's product.
Working with demanding customers
To find out whether the candidate possesses this competence, ask the manager to recall the situation when a client wanted too much. Which side did the manager take in this situation? How did he or she resolve the issue? Do these methods fit into the framework of corporate ethics of your company?
Analyzing of client’s potential
A good sales manager will note that it is impossible to immediately identify client’s potential. We can only assume because situations can very different. We can make assumptions based on the answers to manager’s questions, buyer’s reactions, remarks, appearance, etc.