The role of sales manager is a uniquely complex position. You still need that insatiable deal-making spirit – that shark-like ability to sniff out and pursue revenue wherever it may be. But, you also have to think about everything else: how to get your lowest performers to the level of your highest; how to interact with your marketing team; how to, in effect, be a manager while still being a salesperson.
To do so, you need to create better sales opportunities, ensure better access to key data, and pursue a number of other helpful – but not immediately obvious – means of improving processes. By reducing your administrative workload, you can focus on your team’s core function and sell as many products or services to as many customers as you can.
In short, any way you can make your job easier is a good one. Here are five.
Use your data
Sales is a fast-paced discipline, and this is both a benefit and a challenge. Being able to spot an opportunity, move quickly, and close the deal is an essential and valuable skill, and one that’s baked into the profession. But the speed at which your average sales operation moves also means that, if you stay still for even a second, you’re liable to miss important things.
Accordingly, it’s important to know exactly what’s going on in your department at all times: how a line item is performing, which product groups are up (or down), and which customers are costing you money. To know these things, however, you often have to consult spreadsheets – searching for relevant correlations and discarding irrelevant ones.
Using a combination of data-driven ERP, CRM and BI systems, you can track and monitor your customer base’s activity, preferences and behaviours. If their spend is declining, if they’re buying new products, or if they’re not capitalising on complementary upselling discounts, you’ll know about it – and be able to act based on this comprehensive, 360-degree view of the account.
Create smarter sales reports
Few sales managers enjoy creating sales reports and preparing for meetings, but they are inevitable parts of the job. That said, they don’t necessarily have to be time-consuming: getting all the right information in the right order can be a challenge, but it needn’t eat up too much of your day.
With automation-powered software readily available, there’s no reason to undertake manual data analysis if you need to spot trends, gaps in spending, and new sales opportunities. If you do, the data will likely become quickly outdated anyway. Use smarter tools, and you’ll create smarter sales reports.
Create tailored campaigns to unearth new and better sales opportunities
Most of the buying process is already done before you ever engage with a customer – so getting in there early (or at least earlier than your competition) is paramount. You need to sell as many relevant products as possible to each customer account. Knowing which customers ought to buy which products doesn’t have to be difficult.
With the right technology, you can create customised campaigns to monitor how well promotions or offers are working for the business. You need to know which ones are bringing in leads, which are failing to convert, and which are being ignored outright. More importantly, you can alert your sales team to those slam-dunk opportunities which are often missed (whether because of quirks in timing, being busy, or something else entirely).
Use mobile sales analytics to improve field performance
Salespeople aren’t deskbound by nature: most feel at home when they’re out in the field. The problem, of course, is that being out in the field means being separated from the customer data that informs the best sales strategies.
Instead of having your team constantly ringing the office to ask for a customer’s recent sales history, use a mobile app to have it available in their pockets in an instant. This will allow them to make faster, more informed sales decisions and be better prepared for face-to-face meetings.
Track team performance
Sales teams can be unfortunately opaque, and one of the larger challenges any sales manager faces is knowing what their salespeople are actually up to. Which customers are being visited – and which aren’t? Are your salespeople capitalising on easy opportunities and neglecting more complex (but potentially more lucrative) ones? It’s vital to know how your team is spending its time, which activities are contributing to more sales, and who’s falling short of expectations.
Here, as elsewhere, data-driven technologies can be illuminating. Any gaps in your knowledge can invariably be filled with concrete information and analytics. This boosts accountability and transparency, and it gives you a solid foundation for future improvements. The modern sales manager can’t afford to neglect technology – and they’re likely to be rewarded for embracing it.