The Best Sales Managers Do These 3 Things

Each week here at ASLAN, we put out content to help sales reps adjust to this new world of virtual selling. I asked myself, what’s the best way to help reps achieve their sales goals? Who is their “best friend” as they navigate this age of selling? It’s really their sales manager. It’s their coach, the person that helps them set goals and achieve them, growing as a seller along the way. 

If you prefer to take this on the go and listen to a conversation on the topic, feel free to check out sALES with ASLAN podcast episode 20:


They Drive Change…But how?

Oftentimes, sales teams are out there in the field or on the phone, working individually to hit their number – and the check-in with their manager is centered around the discussion of that “number.” Have you hit your number? How are your numbers? How are you tracking?

This skips over one crucial piece: coaching. 

At ASLAN, when working with sales leadership teams, we define rep results with three buckets, or as we call them “dials:” desire, productivity, capability

As a sales leader or manager, this lines up with how you are leading, managing, and coaching your team member. How are you driving those results?

Because your results, numbers or whatever KPIs your organization uses to measure, are based on your individual team members’ desire, productivity (not just activity), and their ability/ competency.


They Wear all 3 Sales Manager “Hats”.

Let’s dive into each of these three “hats” that a sales manager wears: lead, manage, coach. 

To some, lead, manage, and coach may seem to all be the same thing. As a manager, you may already be doing all three of these things, because that’s what a manager is and does… but have you defined them within your role? How do you define those three words?

I sat down with John Ferguson, Senior Consultant at ASLAN, to discuss the meaning and importance of each “dial,” and the differences between them:



Lead lines up with the desire dial for your team.

“Leading is all about setting the company direction and providing the vision for the team member to succeed.” – John Ferguson

It’s also about your rep’s desire to want to do their job. As a manager and leader, you should always have your rep’s desire on your radar. This can be tough to measure and/or manage, but desire is all about attitude and aptitude, but most importantly, willingness to do the work. 

This is where it’s important to create and communicate the organizational vision. 



Manage aligns with your reps’ productivity, which revolves around measuring their activity (and how productive their activity is). 

Activity and productivity are all metric driven. It’s hard data: calls made, time spent selling, deals won, average order size, etc. Platforms like Salesforce and Sugar help sales teams store and manage this data/ information. 

The drawback to this is that because it is data, it has already happened. This information can tell you what has happened and what is likely to happen, but it doesn’t tell you what needs to change for the future. It doesn’t tell you how to pivot, shift, and grow. That’s where the rep’s competency comes in, which lines up with coaching. 



Coach for capability. 

This is where you can actually help your reps make tangible changes to improve their selling skills and in turn, drive more revenue for your team and your organization.  You might find it interesting to check out our freemium app called Catalyst Core, where you can set up your team and test out these concepts.


They Take a Holistic Approach

Lead for desire.

Manage for productivity. 

Coach for capability. 

A good place to start for managers: ask yourself how much time you think you spend on each of these? Do you manage more than you coach? Do you spend 40% of your time leading? There’s no right or wrong answer, this is just a moment for self-reflection and self-evaluation. 

The goal is to be able to drive change within your reps, your team, and your organization by adjusting these three “dials” to the best “settings.”

What are you changing to make your team better? How are you adjusting those dials?

One final note, the most precious commodity that anyone has, especially in a sales job, is time. Don’t spend/ waste your time coaching those reps that have zero desire – focus on the reps that can (and want to) improve. 


What Next?

Use Catalyst Core to streamline your coaching and save time – for free. ASLAN’s Catalyst Core is a free, cloud-based application to make front line sales managers more effective at coaching and improving the results of their sales team.

We’d be happy to understand your challenges and see if we can help. ASLAN started as an inside sales training company in 1996, working to help sales teams overcome the very same challenges we are all facing today in the world of virtual selling.

As VP of Marketing at ASLAN Training & Development, Scott’s passion is to share our solution with those in need and those who seek sales transformation. Find him on: Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram

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