TALKING SALES 151: "A sales manager is a delegator"

John Smibert

beautiful young lady holding documents. stressed businessman looking at documents with fear

       "How good sales managers delegate effectively - up and down" - Interview by John Smibert

Sales Management is a tough gig - probably one of the most difficult management jobs around.  All sorts of responsibilities and tasks are loaded onto the sales manager's shoulders and even the best of us can break under the load. Sometimes sales managers accept tasks that they should not be performing thus putting an even greater load on them.

Wayne MoloneyAn essential skill that is necessary to lighten the load, and still make sure everything gets done, is the ability to delegate effectively.  
Wayne Moloney emphasised this in an interview I recently conducted with him.

I asked Wayne to talk about the 6th chapter in his book; "Your roadmap to sales management success" which is about a sales manager being a delegator. 

He outlined the unique attributes of the role and why, and how, delegation is an essential part of it.  He made some very relevant points from which most sales managers and leaders could get value

View or read the full discussion with Wayne below. This interview is likely to be of interest to the CEO, CSO, sales leaders and sales managers.


Wayne Moloney is a leading business strategist specialising in sales and business development. Wayne has a very specific specialisation in 'lean selling'.

               See more of the 'TALKING SALES' video series here


John: Hello, I've got Wayne Moloney with me again - welcome back, Wayne!

Wayne: Hi, John!

John: We've been talking through your book and we're up to chapter six, your book is Your Roadmap to Sales Management Success. You've given me some great insight, thanks, and hopefully you're getting value out there in the marketplace.

Wayne: Thank you!

John: In chapter six you talk about delegation, the sales manager must be a great delegator.

Wayne: Yes.

John: I always think of delegation as a classic task and skill and capability that any manager needs to have. Is there anything special about delegation in a sales management role?

delegate5-kingWayne: You're right, it is something that all managers needs to have. But from a sales role, one of the things that is so easy for a sales manager to do is when the going gets tough they will often go out and make the sales themselves, rather than insist on the individual doing what they're supposed to do, and that's sell, and the sales manager's role is to help them be successful. So, they delegate down, if you like, by making sure that people take responsibility for what their role is, and not stepping in and doing it themselves, because there's no benefit to the organisation in them doing that.

John: But it's a classic, isn't it? Particularly really successful salespeople that have been promoted into being sales managers get a little frustrated when the people with less skills are fluffing around in a deal, and they want to take over.

Wayne: Yes. And if you step in and take over, rather than insist on that delegation that you've already made, you take away the confidence of the individual, for them to be able to try later, and you also lose the opportunity to identify where those individuals may need some assistance, and be able to coach them to better performance at a later date.

John: And even if you lose the deal because you didn't jump in yourself, they're going to learn more so they don't lose for the same reason the next time.

Wayne: You would hope so.

John: It's so important.

Wayne: Yes, absolutely. And delegate up is also important, because, again, one of the problems sales managers have, that I've seen over the years, is the insistence by management for reporting and administration that really adds no value to what they're doing as sales managers.

John: A lot of organisations I've gone into and had discussions with all the sales managers, and that's one of the top issues. "We're just bogged down with administration, we don't have time to go out and be a leader and be a coach and spend time in the field; we've got so much time we've got to commit to all this administration".

Wayne: Yes.

John: So, what are you saying the solution is?

Wayne: Well, the solution is to make sure you're delegating appropriately. We spoke earlier about the sales manager needing to be courageous. Well, they've got to be courageous to stand up to the senior management, or the management that might be demanding things that aren't going to help them as salespeople. And we also spoke earlier about supervising a reporting system. If they're being asked to report on things that are of no value to the sales team, and of no value or of lesser value to the organisation, stand up for that, do something about it, and delegate to appropriate people within the organisation. All too often you'll will see things, "Oh, we'll just get sales to do that," or "We'll just get sales to report on it," because someone somewhere thinks that getting that report is going to be helpful to them.

delegation-trainingJohn: And at the end of the sales year you haven't made your numbers, the last thing you want to do is put the excuse up that, "Well, I had all this admin to do, all the pressure you put on me. We didn't have time to actually get out there and sell."

Wayne: Yes, and as you know, John, that's no excuse at that point in time.

John: No way. So, push back.

Wayne: Push back and delegate down to the team, and make sure that they're responsible for what they're supposed to be doing.

delegate6-upJohn: What about delegating up? If there are things that are essential that need to be done, but you think that somebody else should be doing it, shouldn't you be delegating sideways or up or into...

Wayne: Part of a role of a sales manager is to build their networks internally, just as a salesperson has to build their networks externally. So, you'd be working with the rest of the management team, to make sure that they can see the benefits to the company of you not necessarily doing something that someone else should be doing.

John: Let's give a guide to the sales managers out there.  How much time should a sales manager expect to be in the field working with their people, compared to admin work?

Wayne: Great question, John. I know this is a clichéd statement in business, but the old 80-20 rule comes up again.

John: Right.

Wayne: If you're engaged and employed within an organisation to be a sales manager and you're not spending 80% of your time managing what is generating sales for the organisation, you're wasting a lot of time.

John: Yes, you probably shouldn't be there at all.

Wayne: Yes.

John: But there's a problem with that of course, because all the management are putting the pressure on you to do admin work. So, delegation is so important, isn't it?

Wayne: Delegation's absolutely critical.

John: Great advice. So, a sales manager needs to be a great delegator, to manage their time and ensure they get the productivity happening in the field.

Wayne: They've got to be spending their time doing what a sales manager is supposed to do, and that's generate sales with their team.

John: Thanks, Wayne! Great advice, good chapter - look forward to talking about the next one!

Wayne: Thanks, John!


More interviews with Wayne Moloney:



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