In this blog series, I’ve covered numerous important aspects of building a sales team: start with salespreneurs, become customer-centric, tailor to your industry, have and use specific personality profiles, and insist reps be self-sufficient.
But throughout all that, there is one function you’re going to have to have or the whole thing falls apart: sales management.
No Easy Task
To start with, In order to manage salespeople, sales managers must know the sales beat themselves—meaning they’d better have firsthand experience selling. Sales reps will seldom follow a leader that hasn’t been where they are, and will often push back against a manager with no experience, saying “You have no clue—you haven’t been out there in the field.”
Overall I believe sales management is certainly one of the hardest jobs there is. You have a multiple burden: finding the right people, putting them in place, developing the right sales process, utilizing the right technology, evolving sound lead generation strategies both inbound and outbound, working with Marketing, working with the Board, and much more. In addition, it all must tie together.
What Sales Management Isn’t
Due to the pressure for revenue, sales management often devolves into a “numbers game”—that is, most of the time is spent chasing up the latest sales figures. Numbers chasing can turn into the primary topic of endless emails and calls with reps and, worst of all, sales meetings where the future should be being discussed. This is a far cry from where sales management should be.
In truth, all the “numbers chasing” should be taken care of by CRM. A CRM solution should be so efficient that a simple glance through it gives a sales manager all the information they need. By the time they actually talk to a sales rep, the manager already has this information.
Nor is sales management any longer “command and control”—a matter of simply issuing broad orders and insisting they are followed. If you have salespeople, they’re already very willing to sell. You don’t have to order them to do it. The problems arise in their own individual barriers encountered, and if those barriers aren’t specifically addressed, in the end you have “crippled” reps or, worse, no reps at all.
What It Is: Coaching and Mentoring
If you really want a sales team that is functioning—better yet succeeding—you’ve got to get in there and mentor salespeople. You’ve got to be able to isolate a rep’s specific issues and address each with that rep.
Mentoring should be conducted in a positive way, geared toward encouragement instead of criticism. The rep should walk away feeling that they have the answers they were missing before, not feeling worse for having “made mistakes.”
You should realize that you can’t change a sales rep—only they can do that. You’re there to advise them and show them the way. If they choose to follow your advice, great. If they insist on hanging on to their old ways which obviously didn’t work, only then must you cut them loose.
What It Is: Utilizing Strengths
A common mistake that costs organizations millions in wasted resources is a constant effort with personnel to fix weaknesses. Fixing weaknesses may be well and good, but a far more effective approach is utilizing strengths.
The logic of this can be extremely apparent in sales. You have someone who is fantastic at bringing in new leads, but weak on closing. The common approach is to do everything possible to make that rep a stronger closer. After a great deal of executive and staff training time spent, what if that rep is still a weak closer? They’ll probably be demoted or let go. Having done so, you’ve then negatively impacted your ability as a sales organization to bring in new business.
A far better way to deal with the situation is to put that rep in the position of bringing in new leads, and to find a way to compensate them for it. Need closers? Find your reps that are great at closing—and maybe weak at other things—and put them on as closers.
Pipeliner CRM: Backbone of Sales Management
The End of “Numbers Chasing”
For any sales manager that is stuck in the “numbers chasing” rut, Pipeliner is the answer. Pipeliner’s Dynamic Target feature will show you, right from the front of the application, exactly where your team stands in real time as regards sales target achievement. In seconds you can drill down and discover where any particular territory, unit or rep stands.
Need to find out about that big deal that’s supposed to close this quarter? Within seconds it’s located at its stage of the pipeline. Click on it, and all the particulars—tasks, activities, communications and all other needed data—are right there.
Pipeliner’s brand new Team Insights feature allows you to compare rep performance, one to the other. Among many other benefits, this feature allows an instant update for any sales game in progress.
Pipeliner also empowers sales managers to utilize the strengths of reps. Simply look over each rep’s pipeline and see where they are excelling and where there are falling short. You can then isolate the stars in each of your different sales functions, and strengthen them.
Sales management cannot adequately function without Pipeliner’s visual, intuitive approach. Download a free trial today.