By Shelley Cernel
The effectiveness of sales leaders and sales managers can have a big impact on the bottom line of an organization. No matter how many talented sales reps you hire, the leadership and coaching that you offer them has a huge influence on their ultimate ability to drive revenue.
But what roles do leadership and management play in the success of the sales team? While the terms “sales leader” and “sales manager” are often used synonymously, they are traditionally two different, distinct functions:
- Sales managers guide resources and reps toward hitting revenue goals. They set quota, designate sales team structure, maintain performance standards, and analyze data to continuously be improving. They direct and supervise their team and oversee sales execution.
- Sales leaders help to coach, empower, and develop reps; innovate the sales process; and work to build a culture of feedback, trust, and collaboration. They look at the bigger picture and consider KPIs beyond revenue. They work to inspire and motivate their team and have reps willingly bought into and aligned with their vision and strategy.
Whereas sales managers direct reps, sales leaders develop reps and maintain open dialogue with two-way conversations. A sales leader innovates new sales strategies, and the sales manager oversees implementation. While sales managers are often managing the minutiae of day-to-day business and decision-making, sales leaders can take a step back to innovate, experiment, and strategize.
Sales leaders are not always sales managers, and vice versa, and today these roles often overlap and blur together. Regardless of who performs these responsibilities or how many people it takes, both positions are important roles within an organization.
Read ahead to learn how sales leaders and sales managers can work together to ensure success for the sales teams.
1) Identify Proper Metrics
While results (such as revenue and number of deals) are important, also consider metrics that mark and track progress like funnel conversion rates and average number of engagements. With this type of measurement strategy, you won’t be blind-sided by lackluster performance at the end of the month or quarter and can proactively make the necessary changes that would drive higher effectiveness. For example, data from across the sales team can help to identify which factors impact sales, why and how those factors affects the progress of the deal, and opportunities for improvement.
2) Ensure a Consistent Sales Process
Sales organizations that monitor and enforce a sales process are more likely to exceed quota, but the problem is that almost half of underperforming sales teams have an informal or unenforced sales process.
Start by outlining a consistent workflow. Use the data mentioned earlier to gather important insights that can guide the sales process. For example, how many calls does it take to set a meeting? What talking points are most effective at advancing prospects to each consecutive stage? What content progresses deals and generates the highest ROI?
Also consider how your new workflow may vary from what reps are currently using. Are there potential problems that may arise when the new plan is implemented? Are there any roadblocks to success? Do you anticipate objections from the team? This is where it will be important to continually enforce the new workflow, as reps can sometimes be hesitant to shift away from what they have always done in the past.
3) Enable Reps to Add Value in Prospect Engagements
It’s not just about what reps are selling but how they are selling. Every engagement with a customer or prospect is an opportunity to add value to the conversation. This value can be in the form of content, insights, or ideas for solving problems (i.e. more than just a pitch describing what you sell).
Sales enablement technology can proactively recommend the most effective content and messaging – based on the sales situation – for reps to offer prospects in order to address any buyer apprehensions, to show how a product or solution can solve a problem, and to demonstrate ROI. The predictive and automated nature of these technologies means that reps always have the right content and messaging at the right time, every time.
4) Give Reps Feedback
While it’s important to hire winning talent, it’s equally vital to coach and develop your reps. Failure to invest the time and resources into coaching means missing out on a valuable opportunity and effective way to develop the sales force. Reps who receive just three hours of coaching each month can expect to see their close rate increase by 70% and revenue increase by 25%.
It’s also important to understand that each individual sales rep is different, each sales situation is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for either.
5) Promote a Culture of Collaboration
Collaboration encourages reps to work with each other instead of against each other, leveraging best practices and, in turn, increasing efficiency. With a culture of collaboration, reps can learn from each other’s successes and failures so that the team as a whole can grow, more effectively supporting long-term goals for the company.
This type of culture will also help to break down the barriers that may exist between sales and marketing, for example. By working together, sales can get the content they need, and marketing can focus their resources on creating content that will get used. And that’s a win for the entire organization.
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