This Week’s Big Deal: Strengthen Your Sales Management Techniques for 2019

November 23, 2018

Strengthen Your Sales Management Techniques for 2019

As a sales manager, two of the best words you can hear are “thank you.” While it’s of course great to hear them from a customer who feels you went above-and-beyond, it’s even better to hear them from a sales rep for whom you’ve made a real difference.

When your advice and input resonate, making a positive impact on another person’s career and livelihood, it’s a big deal. We often talk about the importance of helping prospects and customers succeed, but helping your reps succeed can be an equally vital aspect of sales team management.

Sure, it’ll reflect well on your numbers if your sellers are prospecting, engaging, and closing deals more effectively. But beyond that, guiding our staff to meaningful self-improvement can provide a sense of deeper purpose. The genuine expression of gratitude from someone who overcame a challenge or professional struggle because of your direct assistance sparks a warm feeling, sweeter than those leftover candied yams from Thanksgiving dinner.

At this time of the calendar, it’s fitting to reflect on the teammates we’re thankful for, and to consider all the ways we can help them reach even higher in the coming year. Read on for some tips we corralled from top thinkers in the sales world who have written on the subject recently.

Sales Team Management: Setting Reps Up to Succeed in 2019

Earlier this week on the Business 2 Community blog, Lilach Bullock shared some eye-opening stats:

  • Companies that provide quality coaching can reach 7% greater annual revenue growth.
  • When your salespeople feel like their manager is a poor coach, they’re as much as 60% more likely to leave their job.
  • Sales reps who receive 30 minutes or less coaching per week have a win rate of 43%, while those who receive two hours or more of weekly coaching have a win rate of 56%.

Contributing two-plus hours of dedicated coaching to each individual rep, on a weekly basis, is a pipe dream for most of us. So it’s all about focusing our efforts and ensuring we maximize the time we are able to commit, delivering the type of quality training that increases revenue and limits churn.

These recommendations will put your team on the right track:

Use Data to Identify Gaps and Weaknesses

Sales team management used to involve a lot of ambiguity and guesswork. Identifying weaknesses in the sales approach of a particular rep was often a matter of subjective analysis or observational diagnosis. Today, we are able to get a much clearer picture of where our team members might be missing the mark.

Bullock advises that we inspect our sales data thoroughly, via CRM and/or analytics tools, to determine where sales reps might be hitting walls. Using Sales Navigator Deals (which syncs up with your CRM insights), you can gain complete visibility over the sales pipeline to uncover hidden snags or persistent hiccups. Then, you can tailor your guidance accordingly.

Incorporate New Sales Coaching Methods and Approaches

A sales enablement optimization study by CSO Insights found that dynamic coaching methods (such as video coaching technology) can improve win rates by up to 28%. Tools like video can help us overcome time constraints and still deliver engaging and effective training programs.

The demonstrative nature of video coaching enables us to show and not just tell, an important key to driving actionable results as pointed out by Matthew Sunshine at Sales & Marketing Management. He mentions the use of role-playing scenarios as another proven model for active learning.

Focus on Modern Selling Fundamentals

We still need to ingrain good habits when it comes to staple skills such as prospecting and closing. But we also should be embedding the principles of differentiation, negotiation, and business acumen as they apply to our current B2B selling environment.

“The competencies that were once necessary to succeed in sales have not been eliminated or replaced,” wrote Anthony Iannarino this week in his post on the Evolution of B2B Sales. “That isn’t how evolution tends to work; it tends to transcend and include what came before, making modifications and adaptations, not wholesale changes.”

Another increasingly crucial competency in this age of expanding committees: building consensus. “Leading a group of people through the process of change, starting with the decision to do so, is another higher level skill that builds on what came before,” says Iannarino.

Equip Your Team with the Right Tools

At LinkedIn, we recently launched several new features for Sales Navigator intended to help managers and their teams sell better through superior collaboration and sales intelligence. These include new alert notifications, custom lists for saved leads and accounts, and more capabilities in the mobile app.

If your team uses Sales Navigator, creating awareness around these enhancements and showing your reps how to take advantage, can be instrumental to their success. Our new guide, Get Closer to Your Sales Team, includes a wealth of information around the product’s functionality for teamwork and training.

Make Sales Training Continuous

In a guest post on our blog this week, GrowthPlay’s managing director Tracey Wik offered up several great tactics for improving sales team management. One of the most important comes at the end of her list: continuous learning.

While there’s nothing wrong with isolated time-bound training initiatives and programs, we need to think about how coaching and personal growth fit into our ongoing operational strategy. Wik suggests that sales managers attend training sessions regularly to lead by example (while keeping our own skills sharp). Find ways to carve out time for your reps to pursue their own professional education goals. It’s another of those small steps that can result in a heartfelt “thank you.”

Stepping Up Sales Team Management

I’ve seen a theoretical discussion between executives that often makes the rounds in social media; perhaps you’ve come across it before too. It goes like this:

A CFO asks their CEO, “What happens if we invest in developing our people and they leave us?”

The CEO responds, “What happens if we don’t and they stay?”

That pretty much sums up the importance of such initiatives. The downside of not taking your team’s ongoing training and coaching seriously is much higher than the downside of truly investing in them. When you get it right, your reps will be thankful – as will the prospects and customers who interact with them.

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