The gap for sales managers
There was a time, not long ago, when a sales manager had one simple target to drive (usually revenue or quantity). Today, however, their challenges have multiplied – the products they sell are commoditized, they have margin and product-mix pressures, and have to deal with agile competition, as well as customers who are more aware (and therefore more demanding).
To deal with these challenges, your sales managers need a transformation – to equip them to cope, and excel as the company’s primary growth engine.
We explored the transformation required, and found 3 primary areas for development:
- Spotting and chasing the right opportunities
- Distilling and utilizing customer insight
- Accelerating revenue (bigger, faster, and more predictable sales)
Spotting and chasing the right opportunities
Sales managers tend to focus on the most obvious opportunities in the market. These opportunities often involve tough competition, and put significant pressure on margins. They need to be acutely aware of the bottom line impact of their decisions. They need to be able to distill market information and to identify those opportunities which drive company’s top line and bottom line together.Specifically, they need to
- Understand the bottom-line impact of decisions
- Focus on the right opportunities
- Gain and utilize market intelligence as a tangible competitive advantage
Distilling and utilizing customer insight
A key concern for business leaders across the country, is that their sales managers end up providing the right solutions to the wrong problems. Identifying profit-making opportunities needs a refined understanding of your customers’ pain points – and the tools to utilize that understanding.
When product launches do not perform to expectations, or you get drawn into price wars, or find yourself unable to differentiate yourself from a competitor – the reason is usually a gap in customer insight.
For your managers to gather, distill (and then exploit), customer insight, they need to be able to:
- Sell value and not price
- Drive client success in commoditized markets
- Ensure product-market fit
Now more than ever, sales teams need to find bigger deals, close them faster and also make their revenue forecasts predictable month after month. However, this is far easier said than done.When a sales team lags its targets, one quick-fix solution is to ask sales personnel work ‘harder’. However, most sales managers we have met, work hard and are passionate about their jobs. What they lack is the business acumen to land larger deals, the commercial savvy to shorten sales cycles, and the tools to align their channel/pipeline to the company’s targets.
More than just working ‘harder’, they need to drive
- Bigger deal sizes
- Faster sales cycles
- Channel alignment and pipeline management