Sales management may be one of the most critical roles that influence the success of an organization. You are closest to two important corporate assets: customers and the sales team. The impact of an effective sales manager can be felt throughout an organization. Unfortunately, the same holds true for those whose attempts are not meeting expectations.
Using Your Dashboard
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems have introduced many new data analysis features to a sales manager’s world. There’s good news and bad news to that. More data does not translate into better decisions. Of all the features, the most useful dashboards for sales managers are those that bring clarity and visibility to the sales funnel.
Use the funnel as a guide for prioritising time with customers and time with salespeople. This discipline will bring clarity to where your time as a sales manager can best be spent to drive results and improve forecast accuracy for you and the overall sales organisation.
It doesn’t mean there is no value in reports such as top customer invoicing, product reporting, lead conversion rates, or YTD performance to plan. But as a sales manager, always recognize the sales funnel as the most important reporting tool.
Even Sales Managers make Mistakes
To help you avoid some of the common ones, SME Advisor has the following list of frequent mistakes made by sales managers. Save yourself some time and disappointment by doing your best to avoid these.
The number one blunder that many new sales managers make is taking too long to get out of “selling mode” and into the mode of coaching and managing their salespeople. Your team is now your most important asset and you must mentally shift from salesperson to leader.
Managing the Team.
Sales managers tend to focus too much energy and time on bottom performers. It may seem natural to focus on the problems, but doing this alienates top and middle performers who are actually producing for the company. Too often, sales managers chase the squeaky wheel. Devote energy to the right group of performers and encourage incremental growth.
Many sales managers assume that all salespeople are motivated by money. This is not the case. It is important to realise that different people are motivated by different things. It is crucial to recognise these factors when you nurture your top performers. Each salesperson needs something different from you and, as sales manager, you must be able to recognise these differences.
Many sales managers struggle in recruiting and hiring. Good sales leaders are always in a mode of recruiting and looking for talent. Those who struggle wait until they have openings to fill, which can lead to decisions driven by deadlines rather than quality.
Sales managers often fail to spend enough time building credibility with their team. Sales managers must work hard to earn the confidence of their team by displaying not just their competence as a salesperson, but their competence as a coach and leader. A strong team with a trusted leader will ultimately perform better
A mistake that many new sales managers make is to change things before taking enough time to assess the landscape. Strengths and real issues that need to be fixed are often missed, which creates a plan of action that produces poor results and will impact your credibility as a leader.
Sales managers who come from the ranks of being a great salesperson often believe that their way is the best approach to a given situation. Size up the strengths of each person on your team and recognise that there are many effective ways to win business.
Excitement, Motivation and Thrill
The challenges in sales management are clear, but sales management also is one of the most rewarding positions you can have in a career. Sales is the most critical function in any organisation. Profitable revenue generation for companies produces jobs, bonuses for employees, product development, increased marketing efforts and improved morale for the organization. As a sales leader, you get to play a key role in making a tangible impact on not just your team, but the entire organization.
If you work in a business where success means that both parties win in the end, the beauty of being a good sales manager is that you get the added benefit of helping a salesperson help the client – a scenario that is a win for each party. Sales management offers a career full of excitement, motivation and thrill. Nothing beats hitting your numbers, helping your team cross the finish line, while at the same time helping individuals prosper, win, develop, grow, enhance their skills, and contribute to the greatness of the sales profession.
Very few professionals can look back at the end of the day, the end of the month or the end of the quarter and see clear, tangible results. When you achieve success in sales, there’s no fuzziness about it. You know when you win and you know when you lose. There is no grey area in between.
Process excellence… inject science into the art of selling.
Standards and process permeate nearly every functional area in business, from accounting, finance and operations to IT, human resources and now, even marketing. And for good reason. Processes and standards enable management to control the controllable so they can focus attention and resources on the more difficult issues that stagnate sales and revenue and disappoint shareholders. Standard process drives predictability, consistency and efficiency, and when properly integrated across the organization, radically improves sales performance.
Despite the tremendous benefits that standards and process can deliver, sales organizations have been much slower than other disciplines to move down this path.
Imagine how much better sales managers could manage if they had consistent, objective criteria to evaluate the status of opportunities and accounts in each sales rep’s funnel.
Or imagine how much more efficiently account teams could collaborate on large deals if they used a common language. And how much better a CEO
would sleep at night if he knew his sales force had a consistent professional approach to interacting with customers! An improvement in these factors helps drive revenue predictability, reduces cost of sales and increases sales force productivity—all critical business objectives.
Results clearly show that world-class sales organisations take a much more scientific approach to selling and sales management than others. While there will always be a certain art to selling, it’s an increasingly sophisticated business world. World-class sales organizations prove that sales process excellence creates a significant competitive advantage. However, the transition from “art” to “science” is not easy. It requires a sound foundation, strong commitment and precise coordination for widespread cultural adoption. That’s the challenge.
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