Recently, we caught up with Ken Huske, a veteran sales professional. As specialists in sales consulting, we always strive to grow as people and as sales managers. We asked Ken to unpack wisdom from his many years as a broadcasting sales manager. Huske, a 40-year veteran of radio broadcasting sales and advertising, started in radio at the age of 16 in his hometown of Elgin, Illinois at WRMN AM/FM and continued his education receiving a B.S. in Radio/TV Communications from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. During his college years, he worked for WJPF Radio in Herrin, IL. Upon graduation, employment took him to WROK AM/FM Rockford, Il before spending 24 years with WLBK AM and WDEK FM in DeKalb, IL. Half of that time was as the company's sales manager. We find Ken's sound bites of sales management wisdom wholly practical and authentic. Here's what he shared with us:
Leading Your Sales Force
The best advice I received when becoming a sales manager was never to forget that you are still a salesperson. You should never forget what made you an effective salesperson. Share your abilities and experiences of how to prospect, meet, present, overcome perspective customer objections and close with your salespeople only when you believe the dialog will bring results. Give advice not as a put-down but as an encouragement. I discovered that teaching and mentoring went a long way in reaching company goals and making my life easier.
You can be friendly without being a friend. You are the sales manager leading the sales flock in the direction of the goal. You are a teacher, mentor, and leader- not their "buddy." Make the salespeople accountable. How do they spend their time? To whom are they actually calling? At the same time, you and the company must be accountable to the sales force by providing them with the adequate support and information they need to sell your product.
Managing Sales Meetings
I found a weekly meeting with the salespeople on Monday morning to be effective. It got them out of bed and to the office to start the week. The meeting consisted of a review of the previous week’s performances: top salesperson, top sale, most calls, etc. You can establish the categories and maybe hand out little awards. Also, outline the goals for the week. The weekly meeting should not be just giving out information or asking for accountability. Find out what's going on in the field and what the company and you can do to help.
Managing & Training Sales People
Sales occur in the field where salespeople plant their prospects and customers. Don't bog them down with lots of paperwork and meetings. Give them the seeds they need and keep them out in field. If you deem it appropriate, get out in the field with them - not as a spy but as a helper. Sometimes two heads are better than one.
Salespeople are professionals who require continual learning and training. See that your salespeople are trained. Even if you are a good trainer, bring in someone else occasionally to add a fresh approach and to support what you have presented.
Parting Words of Sales Strategy Advice
Be patient with your salespeople and travel at the speed of "baby steps," so that they'll learn, accomplish and succeed more. Most importantly, make sure your boss agrees!
What are your favorite sales management tips?