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Sales Strategy & Management

It’s All About Accountability For Sales Managers

Leaders who deliver accurate forecasts will rise through the ranks thanks to accountability.

Jeffrey Fotta

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It seems like only yesterday sales managers were responsible for one thing: Generating as much revenue as possible. However, the new reality is that 58 percent of sales organisations say bottom-line management responsibilities are now the norm, with Best-in-Class companies being 40 percent more likely to support this philosophy. Sales VPs with no experience managing revenue and cost columns are unlikely to join the executive table.

The reason for this is simple: Sales and accurate forecasting affect all facets of a company and its operations – from revenues to resource planning. Without a clear understanding of what’s driving ROI, C-level executives don’t know what areas of the business are working and which require attention.

As a result, sales managers now have an inescapable level of accountability if they wish to accelerate their careers.

Related: No Successful Salesperson Is Too Proud To Use Any Of These 12 Shameless Tactics

Rather than let this scare you, think of it as an opportunity to prove your intrinsic value. Here are a few considerations to help you lay the groundwork for this.

Refine your people skills

Just because you have a reached a leadership position in your sales organisation does not mean you know everything there is to know. In fact, improving yourself only gets more crucial from here on out, especially when it comes to effectively managing people (reps and clients alike.)  Take the time to regularly engage with everyone. Listen and learn from them to understand what they are really communicating, through words or actions.

When it comes to your reps in particular, as the manager it’s up to you to learn which coaching styles will get the preferred results. Some people excel when thrown into the deep end and forced to figure things out themselves. Others are the complete opposite.

“You really have to ask a lot of questions – and even some questions twice, but in a different way so that you can really understand that person,” says Jayna Cooke, CEO Chicago-based EVENTup, and former VP of Business Development at Groupon. “The questions need to be broad so you can really get a feel for where they are coming from.”

Related: The Personalities You Should Engage To Be Better At Sales

Employers will always value those who have the skill of interacting with other people, so do more of it. The more expertise you can develop in empathy, teamwork, and communication, the closer you’ll get to the C-Suite.

Take a scientific approach

accountability_sales-manager

As I alluded to, the days of estimated forecasts are over. The data analysis tools available today have a very important thing in common: An understanding of how past sales activities have generated specific results. Since, in reality, most teams do not hit their numbers every month, a wise sales manager will implement a methodology based on the types of activities that are most likely to deliver the desired results.

If you bring new people in and you let them flounder and don’t look at what they’re doing, you’re certainly not helping them succeed. Reps who don’t succeed quickly are apt to leave, and a high amount of turnover is a red flag to senior executives.

To build team-wide success, managers need to leverage these data-driven insights into the activities that sales reps conduct every day.

Related: 7 Simple Ways To Close More Sales

Ultimately, this activity data paints a much more accurate picture of where your team stands against current goals, letting you know exactly which areas require your focus.

Turning this knowledge into coachable moments will contribute toward expanding the pipeline, growing the top line, and moderating the bottom line, resulting in more accurate forecasting, which is what the C-Suite wants to see.

The bottom line

The most efficient way sales managers can excel in the area of accurate forecasting is to dig deeper than the deals closed and tap into activity data to see how these deals are really being worked.

You’ll be able to understand which activities are paying off and which aren’t, enabling you to develop a sustainable method of performance excellence that will catch the attention of the C-Suite.

Sales leaders who manage rep activity and deliver accurate forecasts will rise through the ranks thanks to accountability.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Jeffrey Fotta is president of Boston-based Gryphon Networks, a provider of sales intelligence and marketing-compliance solutions to enterprises. Originally the firm’s CFO, he has served in several leadership roles at the company.

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Sales Strategy & Management

(Podcast) Are All Prices Negotiable?

Person, socialisation, product, place – what are the key differentiating factors between those who negotiate price and those who don’t? And who determines the value of a product?

Nicholas Haralambous

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What is up for negotiation? When should you be negotiating prices, and when should you be open to negotiating prices with your customers?

Person, socialisation, product, place – what are the key differentiating factors between those who negotiate price and those who don’t? And who determines the value of a product?

Listening time: 8 minutes

Related: (Podcast) Phone Calls Often Solve Email Problems

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Sales Strategy & Management

Sales Leadership: The New Frontier

The Leadership skill of Influencing people increasingly trumps “hard selling techniques” as people enjoy the feeling that they are forced into buying a certain product less and less.

Dirk Coetsee

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“Once upon a time only certain people were in sales. Every day, these folks sold stuff, the rest of us did stuff, and everyone was happy. One day, the world began to change. More of us started working for ourselves- and because we were entrepreneurs, suddenly we became salespeople, too. At the same time, large operations discovered that segmenting job functions did not work very well during volatile business conditions-and because of that, they began demanding elastic skills that stretched across boundaries and included a sales component.” – Daniel Pink

The transformation of sales persons to Sales Leaders is not only the essence of this article but increasingly becoming a necessity, considering the skills demand required to convince people to buy your product or service within an modern environment wherein the consumer is spoilt for choice.

Related: 3 Strategies For Closing Sales Without Picking Up The Phone

In general staples in the make up of old school sales training was and in some cases still is: Product knowledge, fielding sales calls in a friendly way yet creating urgency, learning the ability to overcome client objections and of course do not forget the all-important methods of upselling.

All those elements of selling are still important in general yet “soft skills” such as active listening, handling conflict, and above all removing the emphasis from selling a product or service to selling an enhanced lifestyle or life experience has become the new frontier for the sales game.

The Leadership skill of Influencing people increasingly trumps “hard selling techniques” as people enjoy the feeling that they are forced into buying a certain product less and less. The “parrot method” of drilling sales scripts into the salesforce of the company is slowly but surely becoming obsolete as people want to feel that they are being cared about and considered within the sales process as individuals. “Caring for the other person is the only leverage in any conversation”, Gary Vaynerchuk says.

The above theory calls for a balance between Sales Leaders whom inspires their sales teams to create a personal, professional, and vibrant environment for their customers wherein which they are highly motivated to buy, and Sales managers whom monitor the key sales metrics and checks that sales procedures are being followed. In the modern world both Sales Leadership and management are needed at each end of the balancing scale.

Still, to this day an unfortunate large proportion of sales people are like lambs put to the slaughter, within some situations, as the only weapon taught to them is product knowledge and wearing a smile and then suddenly a very unhappy customer unleashes their anger upon them, and now the poor sales person has no knowledge in terms of how to deal with conflict, generally speaking. How to cope with and overcome conflict and other negotiation skills has become paramount in sustaining very good client relations.

Ethical Leadership is also strongly put forward as a necessary component of any sales training or course through this article. Sales techniques filtered through the companies Vision, mission statement and value system to test its validity and alignment to the companies’ culture can be increasingly effective as opposed to simply applying generic methods of selling which is not always aligned to the company ethos. A high level of ethics amongst Sales Leaders can ensure that after sales promises are kept and that the product sold is in effect as good as propagated by the sales person.

Related: The 5 Best Actions You Can Take To Improve Sales Calls

When a servant leadership culture is prevalent within your company it goes a long way to ensure that your sales people create a caring and positive experience complimented by an enhanced after sales service. Servant Leadership within a sales context is to put the customers’ and teams’ purpose above the individual team members purpose and that by itself is a potential multiplier of sales performance.

A highly important factor within the context of sales performance is the sales Leaders’ ability to formulate the right questions to be asked of the client in order to create a very pleasant experience. Statements in general can be quite dangerous as it is normally viewed as final and very hard to take back once communicated. Questions on the other hand requires an answer and when posed in a caring way can quickly establish rapport with a client.

Subtle nuances picked up by the Sales Leader through asking the right questions can greatly assist in creating positive client engagement. A practical example would be to refrain from the very obvious question of:  how are you? People are so used to being asked this question that they are not likely to give you a very open and honest answer and will be likely to provide you with very generic answers such as, “Fine thank you, “Well thanks and you”, and so forth.

By very simply changing the question to: “How are you feeling today? “, the very perceptive Sales Leader can relatively easily pick up on the client’s emotional state and adjust the conversation from there in order to create rapport.

In Summary, this writing actually asks one question to all CEOs’ and/or boards that must take their companies forward towards a desired future state: Do you want sales people and managers whom are likely to maintain the status quo, or do you seek Sales Leaders whom will challenge the status quo and will always be willing to ask more of themselves in terms of increased skill levels and performance?

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Sales Strategy & Management

You Have Less Than 7 Weeks Left To Turn Your 2017 Around

Implement these 5 steps and achieve 2017 revenue targets and set up a great start to 2018.

Charles Hsuan

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It’s no secret that 2017 has been tough for the majority, with less than 7 weeks to go before business winds up for the year. I’ve summarised an effective sales plan that will help you accelerate your way to success before the year ends.

Referred to as the “championship rounds” in boxing, the last few meters of a 100M sprint, be smart with the last bit of mental energy you have left and sell, sell, sell.

Implement these 5 steps and achieve 2017 revenue targets and set up a great start to 2018.

1Be Laser Focused on Your Customers

You’ll never be one size fits all to everyone, review your client base and define 3 to 5 groups of customers that your business serves, and solves problems for.

Grouping Map

  • Customers that behave similarly, have similar problems and face similar circumstances.
  • Define the groups by age, volume, category, geographic location, and similar demographics. The more components you assign to each group, the better you understand them, and effectively communicate your services to them, ultimately solving their pain points.
  • Personalise with a name it e.g. Sarah is a 30-year-old white collar worker that lives in the urban area, earns R30 000 a month in household income, she sends money back home each month “Black Tax” to support family members that lives in a rural area.

Related: Have We Lost Our Face-To-Face Sales Ability?

2What Goes Through Their Minds Before Making a Purchase?

  • Whether it’s subconscious or psychological, people buy solutions to problems, especially in a tight economy.
  • In order to stay relevant to your customers yesterday today and tomorrow. Continue to evolve and develop your products and services to ensure you are solutions driven.

3Build The Right Pitch

As each of your customer group face their unique challenges. Build a pitch that positions your communication for each customer group to maximise effectiveness.

Follow these 5 important pitch building steps

  • Who is the consumer?
  • What is the pain point that you’re looking to solve?
  • What is the setback for your consumer to not have that pain point solved?
  • What do you do to solve that pain point?
  • What is the result for your consumer, of having that pain point solved?

Once you’ve built the pitch, utilising them adequately, and start selling!

4Implement Your Strategy

This revenue-generating strategy has 2 aspects: hunting (Active) and farming (Reactive)

  • Hunting takes on the form of outbound action. Searching, meeting and engaging with your potential clients. In short, stepping out and finding your customers.
  • Farming is more reactive, it is known as inbound selling. You farm by leaving breadcrumbs that lead your customers towards your services. This is done by generating practical content and using digital platforms to attract attention towards your services or products.
  • Build a calendar for your hunting and farming activities, for the next 12 weeks, and specify tasks for each day.

Related: Savvy Sales Skills To Grow Your Franchise Footprint

5Execute, Measure, Adjust

  • Hunting: Make 10 calls before 10 am each day, make use of a sales script, this forms part of your daily activities.
  • Farming: Schedule a week’s worth of social media content to post.
  • After week one find out which group gives you the best response, tweak it & carrying on.

This plan will help you to notice which approaches yield the best results. You’re able to remove what doesn’t work and focus your time on what leads to the most sales. May this help you turn the last 7 weeks of the business year into a profitable one.

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