Essential Reading! Get my 3rd book: Eat Their Lunch “The first ever playbook for B2B salespeople on how to win clients and customers who are already being serviced by your competition.” Buy Now Balance activity and effectiveness. When I first managed salespeople, I was laser-focused on activity. Over time I learned that, even though an active rep will bump into deals, you can’t build a high-performing sales organization on activity alone. That takes a careful balance of both activity and effectiveness. You have to do as much work—or more—on building that effectiveness.Hire for attributes. Even though I worked in staffing, I defaulted to always hiring for experience. That’s always my clients wanted, too. I believed that by hiring for experience, I wouldn’t have to do so much managing. I believed it would make my job easier. Over time, I found that managing is easier when you hire people with the right attributes and coach, train, and develop them.You live and die by your pipeline. It’s easy to be distracted by all kinds of sales management tasks. But the real action is in the pipeline. I wish I’d have known that your future is easily predicted in the pipeline you have right now. If you want to know what the next two quarters look like, your pipeline has the answer. And there is no cramming for sales results.Serve salespeople before the organization. The organization makes incredible demands of the sales manager. Many of those demands do nothing to help the sales manager or to help his team produce better results. The more time I spent with salespeople, actively helping them with their live deals, the better the results. Even if the organization has to wait for what it needs, I learned it is better to serve the sales force first.You sell to your organization. I had know idea how much time I would need to spend selling within my own organization. Even though we all want the same things, there are all kinds of agreements that need to be negotiated. For clients. For the sales force. For the company’s benefit. Your team needs you to sell on their behalf. And, a lot of the time, you’re the only one that can make the internal sale.You build and manage the process. It was great to find someone that could sell. It was awesome to help someone grow into an effective salesperson. But the challenge is in notching the whole sales organization up. The real key to a high performing sales force is in building and managing a process that improves the performance of the 80% of the sales force that makes the top 20% possible.You have to see for yourself. If you really want to know how a salesperson performs in front of your prospective clients, you have to go see for yourself. It’s impossibly difficult to know how to help if you haven’t seen it for yourself. My ability to know how to help salespeople was improved by seeing things for myself.There is only one forecast date that matters. It doesn’t matter what the close date in your sales force automation says, if it isn’t a date your dream client has agreed to, the opportunity isn’t going to close on that date. Period.Show no mercy when cleaning the pipeline. Salespeople are happy to work on opportunities. They need opportunities to make their number. But much of what comes into the pipeline aren’t really opportunities. I wish I’d have known sooner that you have to protect the sales force from themselves when it comes to disqualifying. Show. No. Mercy.The big lever is caring enough to personally coach. I managed salespeople. But, if you want a high performing sales force, you need to care enough about the individuals on your team to coach them directly. It takes time and energy. But that investment is returned many times over in results. Yesterday I wrote about ten things I wish I’d have known before I started selling professionally. Here are ten things that I wish I’d have known before I started managing a sales force.
A funny thing happened to B2B sales over the last little while. Technology displaced conversation about sales. For certain, there was a lot of talk about the internet, social media, automation, and the merging of sales with marketing, with commerce finding a channel in many new communication mediums and the leveraging of technologies. And a lot of transactions have occurred, and a lot of money has changed hands in exchange for value (or something like it).While all of this hoopla about technology, salesmanship has mostly been ignored, thought by some to have been replaced by new channels, with salesmanship increasingly less important (with some Henny Penny’s suggesting the end times are near).This is one man’s view, but more and more sales organizations are coming to realize that the value of salesmanship and the need to create new opportunities, the promise of technology and new media being unfulfilled despite their time and effort. These same organizations are also finding that not only have they lost the ability to create opportunities, they’ve also lost a good deal of their ability to win them.The internet was supposed to be the new sales channel. Social media was supposed to cause prospects to beat a path to your door, creating more opportunities with far less effort—and fewer sales resources. For all the attention social selling generated, there is not a whisper about it now. Automation, which was supposed to return time to salespeople, has mostly been leveraged to send an email to nurture relationships, missing the fact that nurturing cannot be automated because it is personal and requires caring. The toolkit that allows salespeople to market themselves as a brand is exceptional, but that has proven difficult to scale across a sales force (while being much easier for content creators).Now, the conversation is turning back to fundamentals, like prospecting, like the telephone, like effectiveness. It’s turning to building salespeople who can create value for clients and who can create opportunities and build a pipeline, the number one topic I have heard for more than a year (missed numbers, no hedge against the unforeseen and the unforeseeable, and slow progress in turning things around).Sales is the new sales, and salesmanship is back in style. Get the Free eBook! Want to master cold calling? Download my free eBook! Many would have you believe that cold calling is dead, but the successful have no fear of the phone; they use it to outproduce their competitors. Download Now
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