About once every six months I have the privilege of hosting some of our customers at our Customer Advisory Board meeting. At these meetings we always learn a lot about how Dealmaker is being used to drive sales performance. I am just back from San Francisco where we had gathered together a group of sales leaders to discuss our future plans and to get their input on how we can serve them better.
One of the topics we frequently discuss is the critical role of the front-line sales manager. It is well understood that this important link in an organization’s sales ecosystem is a high-pressure role, but one that can be highly impactful when leveraged. To help frame the discussion we had crafted a framework for the rhythm of a sales manager’s business. The people in the room thought that this was helpful, so I thought I would share it with you.
One of the key observations is that effective sales managers can balance short-term current revenue activities (represented by your current forecast), with the future business pursuits (represented by your pipeline). We endeavor to support both of these tasks with our Dealmaker Sales Performance Insight product, so we do have a vested interest in fully understanding the dynamics and efficacy of these competing motions.
When most sales managers wake up every day they are concerned about the deals on the table right now. Good sales managers triage the opportunities focusing where they can win and applying resources accordingly. But at the same time they struggle with how to coach their teams, strategize future initiatives, ensure their teams are effectively enabled, worry about success at their existing accounts, hire and on-board new reps, performance-manage those existing reps who need help, liaise with marketing to help fill the funnel, and feed the corporate machine.………..
The chart here is a sample approach that you might consider. The first column generally represents hygiene-factor activities but need to stay on the list. Column 2 includes the most high-yield activities and as you move left to right you want to stay focused in the middle of the chart. The last column is a necessary evil and can be almost completely off-loaded to technology. Spending time here adds no value to your business.
Our experience would suggest that if you can develop a rhythm in the business, balancing the important with the urgent, you will be more successful, particularly if you can off-load the management of the machine to someone else and leverage technology to automate as much of the reporting as is practical.
I am concerned about the current trends towards unguided use of analytics to ‘help’ the sales manager, and I have written about that before. The experience of successful practitioners would suggest that sales domain expertise embedded in a structured business rhythm removes much of the friction.