As a taster to a lunchtime workshop being hosted at the Information Industry Network’s ‘Business Media Insights 2014′ conference, Raoul Monks of Flume Training explains his thoughts about leading a sales team in today’s market place.
The skill-set for a successful sales manager has changed
The skills, attributes and approaches necessary to lead a modern day sales team are very different from a few years ago. Clients have changed and sales people need to behave very differently to succeed, so it makes sense that sales managers also require different skills.
What has caused this change?
Over recent years the media landscape has changed dramatically. New technology and platforms have enabled media companies to provide different ways of connecting clients with their audience. This gives clients more options to choose from but also makes their choice more difficult. There is also far more information available to clients, largely care of the internet, meaning much of their purchasing decision can be made without being in contact with media sales people. On top of this, clients are more risk averse than ever before. Every decision needs to be justified, and it is often far safer to go with what they know, compared to the unknown quantity of making a new decision.
How do sales managers need there team to act?
What client’s need from sales people is totally different from even five years ago, and with all the research pointing to the fact that the best sales people play a huge part in the choices that clients make, a sales manager’s role in helping their sales teams to be at the top of their game is vital.
Sales people need to act as trusted advisors and be prepared to challenge conventional client-thinking in a collaborative and authentic way that achieves client results. However many sales teams are simply not doing this and the problem often lies with the fact that they are not empowered to do so.
Sales managers should be encouraging the following behaviours from their team:
- To focus on client results
- To educate their clients to make the best choice
- To tailor each client conversation
- To intelligently connect needs to solutions
- To use judgement to convince the client
- To listen to the client without preconceptions
- To plan for different client situations
- To collaborate with the client to achieve results
Why are traditional approaches to sales management failing?
Quite often the behaviours listed above are not being encouraged, and in fact, are being actively discouraged by traditional management approaches. Typical sales management approaches tend to focus on measuring output such as the number of calls, conversions, proposals, and meetings. But how many of these measures help the sales team behave in a way needed to be successful? The honest answer, is that all of these measures focus the sales team on one thing – themselves, and this is the last thing that your clients care about.
What should today’s sales managers be doing to help their teams succeed?
Today’s sales manager needs to enable their sales team to act and perform in the way that will make them stand out in the right way. This means taking a different approach to sales management – one that is more focused on helping the sales team behave in the right way and have the right drivers, rather than just looking at short-term results.
- Focus the team on achieving results for their clients
Create a client buying cycle and stage-goal the process to highlight what the sales person needs to do to help the client move to the next stage.
- Don’t try and have all the answers
Sales managers need to accept that the world is changing and they don’t need to instantly have all the answers. They should be learning through new experiences and situations and work with their team and their clients to learn, adapt and make progress.
- Be involved with clients
The sales manager needs to lead by example and experience the moving landscape for themselves. Just because a sales manager’s approach to selling worked ten years ago, absolutely doesn’t mean it will work now.
- Coach-in new team behaviours
Through coaching sales teams, you can lead them to prioritise the behaviours that are required to succeed today.
- Recruit for the right drivers
Ensure that new hires have the type of qualities, skills and drivers to succeed in today’s market.
On 22nd October, Raoul Monks will be running a short workshop at the Information Industry Network’s ‘Business Media Insights 2014′ conference, on the topic of how to lead a sales force attuned to today’s buyer. To find out more about this event, click here.
Find out more about Flume’s training and development for today’s sales leaders and get a 10% discount as an IIN / SIIA member.