Sales management is all about getting prospects to buy what your company is selling, right? You’ve got the product, maybe with a few limitations. You’ve got the marketing, at least somebody’s idea of what’s needed to excite customers, even if it isn’t yours. You’ve got the troops, although most won’t be the best in your industry. All you have to do is drive the activity. Get the guys making more calls, presenting more positively, closing more confidently.
If only life in the sales funnel was that simple! Of course it isn’t.
There was time when managing sales was exactly like that. It was a time when products were in short supply, prices were high, customers were desperate to get their hands on new stuff, and not too demanding of quality and service, and sales people knew a lot more than prospects about their markets.
Life in the sales funnel is very different in the 21st Century. Instead of customers looking for things to do with their money, buyers are now looking for money to do things. The Internet gives your prospects more information about your markets than your sales people. Probably knowledge and insight you’d prefer them not to have. The white hot competition, enabled by globalisation and driven by innovation, drives customer demands up, and prices and margins down.
This isn’t the ideal backdrop for business as usual. In fact, sales managers need to drive their teams harder, and harder, just to stand still.
So what hope is there? Are sales professionals headed the way of the dinosaurs? Most likely not. But their survival will depend on recognition of the new paradigm, and reengineering ways they do business.
Getting people to buy what the business is selling no longer works. Getting the bosses to sell what people are buying is the new business as normal. And that’s where sales managers need to look for opportunities to lift their game.
When sales managers act more like managers than sales guys, they look for ways to improve the performance of their teams – not do more of the same things, but do different things.
The sales model needs to be turned on its head.
- Sales people need to stop telling customers, and start asking instead.
- Managers need to monitor what’s happening on the ground so they translate market dynamics into new strategies.
- They need to measure what works, and what doesn’t, and translate failures into opportunities for process improvements.
- They need to choose clear blue water, and establish a unique value proposition in it, to stand out from the crowd.
They need to reengineer the way they think, from driving activity to Plan Act Review.
Visionaries, evangelists, strategists, process engineers, quality controllers, leaders, coaches – all descriptions not normally associated with managing sales, but new dimensions in which today’s sales managers can help their organisations reengineer what they do for customers.
Why doesn’t the traditional approach to selling and sales management work so well any more? What can the modern sales professional do to stay relevant in today’s customer driven markets? Check out our eBook Reengineering Sales Management for ideas on how to embrace the new order of customer driven buyer/seller relationships.