Sales managers have an incredibly difficult job in the commercial ecosystem.
Sales manager enablement is on the rise due to the rapidly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous business landscape. These changes are creating indecision, apathy, and friction because a lot of the underlying core beliefs and skills that drive the behaviors of the various people involved in the value communication and work within the selling system are not aligned to executing more customer intimate business strategies involving higher degrees of buyer empathy.
Most of the organizations that have less mature sales enablement functions have evolved a fragmented commercial system that doesn’t distribute and align the accountability and responsibility for communicating value across the organization. Because sales and marketing processes are heavily dependent on skills, processes, and abilities, people must work together to get sellers what they need to be successful in customer conversations. Sales managers don’t benefit from strategies to increase the competency of managers and sellers while aligning the internal processes, systems, and tools of the organization to help. In many cases, developing people is ad hoc and it’s a huge wasted investment because sales managers aren’t even sure what the business strategy is, it’s moving so quickly.
Why Sales Manager Enablement?
The sales process is both a transfer of knowledge and a transfer of passion to buyers over a specific time period to win deals. That transfer relies heavily on people who must perform a variety of intelligent and adaptive tasks in order to match the right configuration of solutions to each buy-team stakeholder’s needs. The sales manager’s role is evolving to work more internally to simplify the ecosystem that salespeople must operate within.
For example, to achieve the company’s growth agenda, line of business leaders and the staff functions that support them (like HR and training) need to understand how buyers perceive their company during the sales process as well as what buyers are looking for from salespeople in sales meetings. Because the nature of work is evolving, an “outside-in” viewpoint is necessary to close the massive gap that exists between what buyers are looking for and what the company is providing. This manager enablement approach to defining behavior requirements of salespeople (and the people who support them) is often 180 degrees different than current efforts to support client-facing, revenue-generating people in roles by bombarding them with compliance, process, and product information.
The Impact of Solid Manager Enablement
Sales managers are seeing the patterns of behaviors, skills, and knowledge are evolving with the salespeople on their teams. Yet, most of the company that supports salespeople aren’t seeing what that means to them. Alignment to sales conversations can only be achieved with appropriate stakeholders by taking an evidence-based, heuristic approach that gathers the reality at the point of sale. The observations, challenges, and findings created by such an approach can create a solid design point necessary to achieve leadership buy-in and alignment of resources to drive success in client-facing, revenue-generating roles.
To help, it’s a very good time to take another look at the role of Sales Manager and align manager enablement programs to where they are evolving.
Activating Sales Strategy
Sales managers drive sales performance by establishing long-term sales pursuit and business partnering approaches with team and colleagues; balancing short-term requirements with long-term results; recognizing and advancing innovative sales practices and sales team conﬁguration strategies; promoting integrated sales automation tools and processes.
- Ensure the team applies time management techniques to focus and prioritize efforts. Helps teamwork to achieve customer priorities while working across the eco-system.Aligns tactical activities in support of approved sales plans.
- Adjust plans to local requirements to ensure consistent progress to plan
- Establish, monitor, and control costs that affect sales margins. Manage discounting and drives cost control efforts
Gathering and Generating Insight
Move away from reviewing past numbers and generating opinions about what has already happened. More towards identifying trends, patterns, and meaning to navigate towards the future. Anticipate and evolve to where the market and customers will be by identifying the right sources of information and data and monitoring over time.
- Ensure team relationships are at the right account altitude levels and departments within accounts. Inspects deal/opportunities for gaps in execution
- Synthesize relevant data for reporting purposes (for example, sales forecasts, team progress, satisfaction, and project results) to inform decision-making instead of “gut feel”
- Conduct sales team check-ins and meetings to assess opportunity-level progress according to pre-determined plans; tracks sales team performance against established metrics (for example: velocity, value, volume).
Expanding Cross-Selling Abilities
Drive sales performance by equipping the team to differentiate the company’s value; identifies areas in accounts to expand, elevate, or extend relationships and contract value while balancing short-term requirements with long-term results; establishes working relationships with key customer and stakeholders to align mind-share across functions (for example, marketing, engineering, and services peers as well as customer’s IT, operations, and finance functions) leads and evaluates change management programs to continuously improve performance.
- Ensure teams widens the breadth and depth of account penetration through cross-selling. Lends executive presence to help team frame messages in terms of client’s business
- Advance collaboration and positive relationships across organizational boundaries to ensure team gets resources, tools, and enablement support required.
- Ensure team has product and solution knowledge to sell Mimecast platform and product offerings
Elevating their People Management Skills
Drive sales performance by equipping the team to differentiate value; identify areas in accounts to expand, elevate, or extend relationships and contract value while balancing short-term requirements with long-term results; establish working relationships with key customer and stakeholders to align mind-share across functions (for example, marketing, engineering, and services peers as well as customer’s IT, operations, and finance functions) leads and evaluates change management programs to continuously improve performance.
- Evolving to higher standards of excellence through continuous learning, creative work contributions, and teamwork over time.
- Encourage team to embrace change as an opportunity for personal, sales team, and business success.
Creating a high performing team culture
Establish common sales language and common processes to drive consistency and fairness while focusing on elevating the performance and results of the team. Create communication and feedback loops to accelerate approaches to identifying customers’ needs, recommending solutions, and gaining commitments. Communicate and motivate at achieving sales goals and develop motivation and loyalty programs to keep and retain top talent. Become the team everyone wants to work on.
- Communicate up and across the organization to enroll support and align resources. Set clear team expectations and manages ongoing cadence with team members to ensure two-way communications and continuous learning.
- Align reward and recognition strategies with performance goals to drive the right team behaviors. Drive continuous team improvement.
Improving Sales Conversations
Conduct funnel, territory, opportunity, and performance reviews; facilitates individual development planning; manages expectations and particular team member responsibilities; leverages technology to improve results consistently; conducts sales pipeline analysis to align business goals with team performance; Supports product or service launches. Closes the two-way learning loop to stakeholders.
- Observe salesperson behavior to identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement during the cadence of day-to-day work with customers with the goal of improving sales conversations.
- Actively align sales team effort to customer information needs by improving sales team knowledge, skills, and attitudes.
Having Coaching Conversations
- Provide feedback in a way that protects the dignity of recipients while identifying key components to improve performance and individual skills.
- Clearly set expectations for new hire performance. Clearly communicate criteria for success for al team members
- Create a climate of continuous performance improvement and facilitates peer-to-peer best practices sharing, as well as tangible examples of wins.
Providing Adequate Coverage
Assess the potential of each territory by combining internal metrics and expertise with external data. Prevent revenue leaks and ensure plans are error-free with diagnostics and interactive maps to quickly see a sales territory assessment, including coverage gaps and overlaps.
- Partner with HR to develop candidate pipeline and update hiring profiles based on industry trends and ideal customer profiles. Strives to up-level existing team skills
- Manage territory alignment & plans to ensure territory coverage to meet plan targets. Ensure territories are managed to ensure consistency of results.
Manager enablement is a strategic approach to elevating sales manager skillset, mindset, and toolset.