Four traits in sales managers who scale for fast growth
In many ways, sales managers hold the key to the success of their sales reps. They know each rep well. They understand the customer and prospect mix that each rep has. They know the market the reps operate in. They know the challenges of making the quota. They share knowledge during their one-on-one discussions with reps.
But, such tribal knowledge is often not institutionalized throughout the sales organization. The result is lack of repeatability and scalability of results. This means sales managers start over with each new rep and team.
Definitely other factors like compensation, incentives, coaching and product training play a role in sales rep success too. But we see distinct traits in the sales leaders who are attracted to work with us, and who see fast growth.
They use numbers, statistics and data to get the best performance from their sales teams. Then we work with them to add advanced, predictive analytics to their sales processes.
We believe in this approach because data and analytics can lead to repeatable, scalable processes. Growth depends on scale. For a decade, we’ve helped our clients scale their sales and marketing processes, and now today “scale” is a hot buzzword. Maybe too hot, we fear, because it’s a concept that shouldn’t be the latest fad. Scale is a foundation of solid growth. It was in past years, it is today and it will be into the future.
Here are traits that we’ve seen in sales management when they came to us seeking help to create repeatable sales processes …
They desire to “do something different this time.”
Ideas like call blocks, teaming and Hawaii trips were suggested. But they realize these are maybe one-off, not trackable, or simply not proven to bring enough of the performance they need.
Instead, they are looking for a scalable solution they can give to every rep and say “do this, it works, did you do this?”
Predictive analytics provides that stable and tangible call to action that every rep can do. By using lead generation solutions like scored leads, managers can ensure increased sales productivity for every rep. Now, we’re not saying every rep must operate the exact same way, using the same words in a script. That’s too much scale and it’s counterproductive. We’re saying, processes like scored leads make better use of each rep’s time once they make the call with the approach that works for them.
They play with large spreadsheets – a lot.
These managers often have downloaded the entire customer data from Salesforce, pivoted it, and summarized it. They’ve looked for patterns to share with the reps.
Patterns are clues to repeatable processes and scale.
The challenge is, they know they are on to something, but this is on top of everything they have to do. And although they have great Excel skills, they are running out of time … or memory on their laptops!
Predictive analytics gives them all the information they need at their fingertips. Instead of trying to do the mathematics and analysis themselves, the patterns are given to them, and they can use their time to do what they do best: manage and coach the reps.
They constantly seek new data.
Sales managers with a quantitative leaning know that data they have may not be enough to make the sales cycle quicker and certain.
They are buying leads from various sources, appending demographic data, mixing in product usage data and contact summaries to create a broader picture. They tend to look at social media data too. With so many sources to keep track of, analysis of their sources and quality control can become problematic.
Predictive analytics can give them the broader, larger picture. It efficiently compiles and analyzes the data, trends and statistics from all sources.
They focus on “the middle 60%.”
They leave their top 20% of sales reps alone, and they know who their bottom 20% are, but they want to improve results for everyone else. They look to analytical methods for improvement.
They know these middle 60% are the difference between making the numbers this month vs. making numbers consistently. They believe in incremental change. The sales managers we work with want to improve x% of the reps, get x% more customers this month, increase average order by x% and penetrate x% more categories. They want consistent gains across many dimensions that are both scalable and sustainable.
Using predictive analytics tools to score leads, to gauge customer timing, and to stay on top of buyer cycles can reduce variability and give the middle tier reps a big productivity boost. This creates consistency across all reps, almost like making “the rest like the best.”
Many of these sales managers are also in growing companies, and they’re hungry for even faster growth. They act as a buffer between understanding the math and delivering a simple message to the reps.
Most of all, they are very inquisitive and inherently believe that an analytical approach does work. They have to believe this, in order to give us even 10 minutes of their precious selling time. That makes all the difference.