Sales Manager’s New Year Resolution: Stop leading from behind CRM screens & apps!
It has been a while (long while) since I started my professional sales career. When I started on my first sales job the internet was very young and innocent, Salesforce.com was relatively an unknown company and ACT or Goldmine were considered leading edge sales tools.
Needless to say a lot has changed in the world and the selling profession in the past twenty years, both with technology and the way we all buy. But one thing that remains true about selling today is that selling is about meeting, engaging, influencing and helping people. The most successful sales executives are the ones who can connect and have empathy for their prospects, can build rapport, offer support, guide and influence the buying decision. It is crucial for sales managers to realize that the human angle in selling is not limited to the relationship between the buyer and the sales executive.
I am often brought in by the business owners and leaders to help with an underperforming sales team or help already effective sales teams to do even better. In recent years it has become more common to hear a sales managers pretty much confess to me that they have no idea how their sales reps perform in front of the customer, or if they even perform their expected sales activities! THIS IS CRAZY!
This very counterproductive and anti-sales practice in sales organizations (especially among larger enterprises) is based on the misplaced notion that you can effectively manage, lead and coach your sales people through the computer screen and CRM apps. Many of these sales managers and other ‘sales experts’ are quick to defend their ignorance about their troops’ ability and activities by saying they manage their teams ‘by numbers’, and that results don’t lie.
First, I want to say that I agree 100% with the premise that selling is all about results. However, we all know that there isn’t a single KPI that the management can come up with, which I cannot fake, fudge, overstate or underestimate long enough for me to waste company resources and time for at least a few quarters. unfortunately I come across sales teams all the time with sales reps who have missed their numbers for YEARS! Seriously? FOR YEARS!? and they are still there!? how could this happen if you are managing your teams by ‘the numbers’? of course the answer is you are not (this is another crazy trend and a burning topic for me that I save for another post and my future book).
So, help yourself and your sales executives to become real sales professionals by getting out of your chair and go on the sales floor, get in the car, train, or taxi with your sales reps, or get on the call and listen to what your sales people are doing. You have trusted them with one of your company’s most valuable assets, your clients/prospects. Burying your head in the sand does not do much for your company, your career, or theirs. If they need training or support, find a way to help them, if they need to be in another position inside or outside of your company, help them find it.
At least make sure they don’t destroy relationships and opportunities your company has spent thousands or millions of dollars on, in matter of seconds or minutes because they don’t know, or don’t care to know how to better perform their jobs.
Mark Ghaderi is an author, sales coach, mentor, entrepreneur and social selling evangelist with twenty five years of driving business results across the globe.
Vital Strategies Pte Ltd. Provides Revenue Growth Services to companies across the APAC region, helping organizations to grow their top line through digital transformation and improving sales execution.