A client asks, "I am always trying to improve my sales management skills. Can you recommend some good books on the topic?"
Yes, I can. Whether you manage salespeople directly or supervise someone who does, it's always beneficial to read a book on the topic. These four are books I frequently recommend to my clients.
Proactive Sales Management: How to Lead, Motivate, and Stay Ahead of the Game by William "Skip" Miller
Skip Miller brings a fresh perspective to the nuts and bolts of sales management including hiring, setting objectives, creating territories, and running sales meetings. He plays the role of the tough but kind boss. Though everyone knows the importance of turning in sales forecasts and spending the majority of your time with your top producers, Miller stresses why it benefits the manager. The chapters on putting a sales representative on written warning and/or terminating them should be required reading for all sales managers. His writing is succinct and enjoyable because he sees the humor in managing the characters that can comprise a sales force.
Sales Coaching: Making the Great Leap from Sales Manager to Sales Coach by Linda Richardson
Linda Richardson agrees that a sales manager needs to perform certain tasks such as giving annual reviews, holding staff meetings, reviewing sales forecasts, and conducting post-sales call debriefings. She also knows that how you handle these tasks can greatly impact how the salesperson feels and behaves after the interaction. Published in 1996, there is nothing dated about this book. Richardson provides practical advice for setting the tone and asking the right kind of questions during meetings so that salespeople become more energized, self-reliant, and motivated.
Don't Fire Them, Fire Them Up: Motivate Yourself and Your Team by Frank Pacetta
Frank Pacetta is transferred to Cleveland, Ohio to manage one of the worst performing Xerox sales divisions in the country. Yes, he too talks about all the responsibilities that a sales manager has to handle, but he does so in the form of a really interesting story. How he goes about turning his sales group into top performers is a great read. Along the way, he covers some very difficult subjects that are not often written about, such as terminating people you really like, managing people you don't care for, and moving mediocre performers out the door.
Fundamentals of Sales Management for the Newly Appointed Sales Manager by Matthew Schwartz
Matthew Schwartz tackles a topic that many people find difficult to explain: the differences between being a top performing sales representative and an effective, top producing sales manager. Schwartz explains why so many sales representatives struggle with the transition from sales to management. He covers the basics of the job very well. Neither entry level nor dumbed down, many seasoned sales managers have told me that they got a lot out of reading this book. It should be required reading, however, for any new sales manager and for anyone who has just promoted a former sales representative into a sales management position.
I recommend these books; they are full of valuable information as well as being interesting to read. I hope you enjoy them and welcome your comments on these or other sales books you have found useful. Have a great summer!