Software sales managers have a lot of juggling to do. On paper, your main responsibility is to manage your team of sales reps and account executives. In practice, you have to navigate the bundle of their personal and professional concerns…everything from I can’t seem to get past this objection to I can’t make this meeting today because of a family emergency. Add to that recipe the pressure you may be getting from executives to meet their goals, and you are certainly getting pushed and pulled in a lot of different directions at once!
According to some estimates, 32% of a sales manager’s time is spent managing employees. 26% is spent digesting information like metrics and product information. 23% of time is spent interacting with customers. 15% is spent on administrative tasks (like filling out HR paperwork or writing up quarterly evaluations).
If you’re wondering where the other 4% went…well hey…sales managers need to eat lunch and use the restroom as well.
As you can see, there are a diverse range of demands, each of which requires different types of treatment. A sales manager who is new to management can suddenly find themselves thrown into the proverbial lion’s den. And even a seasoned sales manager can use some brushing up on skills from time to time.
Fewer tools can beat learning from experience. And while mentorship is great, it’s not always available, affordable, or possible to squeeze into your schedule. That’s where great sales books come into play, particularly books about sales management. While there is a plethora of material around great selling, there is less on management. It’s easy to see why…sales managers obviously constitute a much smaller part of the overall software sales workforce. That said, there are plenty of great books to read, which you can squeeze into a lunch break, reading at home, or while traveling.
Crack the Code
This book has actually been around since 2012, so you might think a decade has dated it. But while a lot has changed in the software industry, this primer on sales management is still ranked a must-read by HubSpot. Cracking the Sales Management Code will teach you the five critical processes that drive sales performance, and which ones are right for your team. You’ll learn how to prioritize conflicting sales goals; you’ll learn about three types of sales metrics you must collect, which metrics to focus on, and which ones to let go. National VP Arthur Dorfman at SAP described writes: “Sales may be an art, but sales management is a science. Cracking the Sales Management Code reveals that science and gives practical steps to identify the metrics you must measure to manage toward success.”
Get on Cloud 9
There’s a reason this book hit the number one spot on Amazon’s best selling new releases in sales and sale management! There are a lot of books out there on sales, and some on sales management in particular. But there are even fewer on software sales management or the software sales process, which is why Selling the Cloud is particularly special. Authors Mark and Paul draw on their 25 year experience in the world of B2B cloud selling. They discuss some of the key traits needed to succeed in cloud sales, such as strategic thinking, creativity, empathy, and authenticity. In addition they bring in the narrated experience of software sales gurus from the likes of Salesforce, Oracle, Cisco, Microsoft, IBM, Zoom, SAP, and DocuSign.
Make ‘em Champs
What’s the difference between training and coaching? And why does that difference matter when it comes to guiding your sales team to success? Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions is, as it’s subtitled, A Tactical Playbook for Managers and Executives. This book is all about creating a thriving culture of success so that your team is empowered to resolve issues and take ownership of their sales goals. Rather than relying on cookie-cutter training to produce results, coaching is all about observation, feedback, and motivation. Keith Rosen has a unique coaching framework embodied in the fitting acronym LEADS, which is a proven methodology used by top organizations. Conversations that build trust, collaboration, and communication will become the new norm in your team after reading this book.
Survival of the Fittest
You wouldn’t go into the wilderness without a survival guide (or at least one committed to memory). So why would you go into sales management without one? There may not be bears and potentially fatal berries, but there is a fast moving world of many demands and expectations pulling at you from all sides—your team, your executives, and even the clients your account managers are working with. The Sales Manager Survival Guide will teach you how to manage executive expectations, respond to external shifts in the marketplace and internal shifts in the company, and how to turn around problem employees. This book by David Brock has been lauded by other authors in sales and sales management as a definitive go-to guide and has held its own on the top 100 Amazon bestsellers in this genre. Pocketknife not included.
Am I the Only Sane One Here?
This next one might seem a little strange, since it’s not exclusively about sales per se…although it has made quite a splash in Sweden and sold a million copies worldwide. Surrounded by Idiots will (as titled) teach you about The Four Types of Human Behavior and How to Effectively Communicate with Each in Business and Life. Perhaps the (seemingly) abrasive manner of a certain sales engineer is rubbing you the wrong way. Maybe an account manager on your team gives long, rambling answers that make you want to tear your hair out. And there’s a chance that one of the executives you report to seems to always be making unreasonable demands. This book will help you understand them—and yourself—better. You’ll learn when to chase, when to let go, when to speak, and when to be quiet. Above all, the sales environment around you will seem a little more comprehensible, which will make it easier to lead your team.
The great thing about a lot of these books is that they are not only informative, they are entertaining, making this learning process no chore. Additionally, you might find that since the sales process uses so many interpersonal skills, these books will help your life outside of work as an added bonus. While most of the books above are geared toward management, we have taken a look at books for improving your sales game.
With 2022 here at last, you might have new plans for the new year. If these plans involve looking for a company that’s a better fit for your personal and professional growth, let’s connect. As a software sales recruiter with over three decades of experience, I have some excellent connections in the industry. Alternatively, if you’re a manager who needs new talent on your team this year, I have an extensive pool of very qualified candidates we could discuss. Send an email to email@example.com.