Far too often, companies invest in the sales process and skills for their reps but ignore the sales management process. There needs to be an equal amount of focus on both the sales process and the sales management process.
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Sales management process consists of skills coaching, strategy coaching and deal coaching. One could argue that operations, enablement and the tech stack should also be a part of the management process. Each one of those functions is critical but in this blog, we are focusing on the front line managers and what a sales management process means for them.
A lot of times, top performers are promoted to team lead or sales managers and are told to “figure it out”. It is extremely important to equip sales managers with a management process. Without it, it is impossible for the manager to add value to the organization. For example, a coach would not be of much use if they didn’t have a playbook or a process for developing the players on their team. It’s the same situation for sales managers.
For a sales manager to be successful, they need to divide their activities into three categories: skills coaching, strategy coaching and deal coaching. Below, we will explore what each of these categories mean and how a salesforce should incorporate it into their management process.
Skills coaching is one of the most critical aspects of a successful sales management process. A lot of front line managers are most likely dealing with new reps. They could be lacking in prospecting skills or consultative selling skills. The sales manager has to ensure that each member of their team has the skills they need to be successful. This is true for both experienced and novice sellers.
Each manager needs to set aside time on their calendar for skills coaching to ensure that it is part of their regular management process. Typically, an hour every week or every two weeks with an individual rep to work on skills is a good cadence.
During the skills coaching session, both the manager and the rep should come prepared with a specific sales call or conversation in mind. It is a best practice to have these calls recorded so that it can be reviewed prior to the call. This way, it is easy to point out what the reps are doing well and what they could improve on by leveraging a real sales conversation.
If you want more tips on how to improve your skills coaching, be sure to check out our blog on the 8 most effective sales training techniques.
Sales skills are all about tactics and what you do when you are already in a call with a prospect or client. Sales strategy however is the macro approach that you are taking with all of your deals. An effective strategy takes a high level view of the reps entire territory and informs how the rep should approach different segments of that market.
A sales manager must be involved in helping their reps figure out an overall strategy for their territory. Different industries will require different approaches. There are also different buying personas that reps need to be able to work with during the sales cycle.
As part of an effective management process, the sales manager will meet with a rep on a regular basis to review their overall strategy and provide advice on how it can be improved. It’s always good to have an overall goal for the rep’s territory and periodically assess how the reps are doing against that goal. Strategy sessions are a direct way to help impact a rep’s performance.
If strategy coaching looks at the macro view of a sales rep’s account, deal coaching is the micro version of that. Deal coaching is when a manager works with a rep to tackle a particular account and deal that the seller is working on.
This is very important especially if a sales rep is selling into a large organization. There are multiple stakeholders and many decision makers. The salesperson needs to keep everyone together and work towards a common action. This is not an easy task. Salespeople need help strategizing on these deals.
This is why a sales manager should always check in with their reps and ask specific questions about the deals they are working on. Managers need to be just as tapped into a salesperson’s deals as the rep is. In a successful sales management process, the manager will review their team’s pipeline at least once a week to determine which deals need the most attention. This is how managers can prioritize deals that are most winnable in the short term.
If a sales organization has an effective management process, there are many advantages. One of the signs that the process is working well is that there is rarely an end of the month or end of the quarter push to close more deals. An effective management process keeps everyone on track so reps should not be stressed about hitting quotas as the quarter is coming to a close.
In a well run sales management process, the reps will also have task clarity. If the management process is working, then the reps will know exactly what they are doing in each deal and how they should conduct the next sales call. A lack of discounting is another hallmark of good sales management.
Of course, a good manager also means a good boss; someone that you want to work for. A lack of turnover is a great sign that a company is doing a great job of managing their sales team. .
The opposite will be true if the management process is lacking. There will be a lot of discounting to hit numbers. Sales reps will be burnt out and there will be higher than normal turnover.
Funnel Clarity can help your team get started with the sales skills training they need. We also work directly with sales managers and sales leaders on sales coaching. Our coach-the-coach program prepares sales managers to create an effective sales management process. Schedule a free consultation with us to learn more.
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Jill Ulvestad is the founder of Funnel Clarity. Jill applies her expertise in driving sales performance and results, developing sales strategy and streamlining skills development to the Funnel Clarity team. With nearly 20 years of business development and consulting experience, Jill provides valued sales performance insight to her roles as co-founder and managing partner of Funnel Clarity. Previously, Jill spent 8 years with the sales performance firm Huthwaite where she served as the Vice President of Sales. She most recently was co-founder of Business Performance Partners, a sales and strategy consulting firm and led the coaching practice.