It all starts with the sales process. When the sales process is weighed down by outmoded methodologies, leadership, and people, your sales reps are more vulnerable to failure.
If you haven't already started, now is a perfect time to shake off the dust and get in gear for 2012. Here are my four New Year's resolutions for sales managers -- each one is based on changes I've seen in sales management in the past year. Use them to get your team on the path to sales success today.
I will create content that attracts customers.
Many sales teams are struggling because they work for companies that are failing to respond to the new ways that customers are buying. I routinely talk to sales leaders who do not see the need to optimize their B2B websites to capture and follow up on inbound leads. They don’t take advantage of marketing automation software. They have no online sales channel. They think social media is a waste of time and have little or no presence on Twitter. They’d rather have their reps out selling than blogging or connecting with new prospects on LinkedIn. Yet these are all steps that leading companies are taking to engage with an audience and turn prospects into loyal customers.
Keep this in mind: Good content stimulates curiosity, sparks online conversations, and encourages "likes" and online engagement. Seize the opportunity in 2012 to become the conversation leader and content leader in your field. In 2012, good content will pave the road to more closed sales.
I will create messaging that gets our customers to open their minds.
Right before a meeting, your reps should be able to pull up vital information about the prospect’s company and industry in order to set the stage for a relevant dialogue. Access to the right information is the first step. Translating this information into messages that engage and persuade customers is the second step -- that's an area where many salespeople come up short.
Last month at the Sales Strategies in a Social & Mobile World Conference, I invited sales executives from sponsor companies to deliver a one-minute elevator pitch to the entire audience onstage. While we heard a number of creative and compelling messages, some of these pitches didn't have traction.
In 2012 you want to make sure that your salespeople are able to deliver a message that opens their customers' minds. You also want to make sure they will follow up with a clear value proposition. If they don't, their clients won't open their wallets.
I will create top performing sales reps.
A recent report on how successful companies are creating opportunities for new and better sales shows that leading organizations are opting for short and timely training programs that can be disseminated virtually and accessed at any time. If you create a winning sales culture – one that empowers reps to learn new skills through training, share collective knowledge, and tap internal resources that can help them sell more effectively – the top performers will come knocking.
I will hold everyone responsible for the sale companywide.
Another mental shift that many sales managers need to make is that sales is not an island. Because today’s customer has often completed up to 80% of the buying cycle before even coming into contact with a sales rep, it’s important that all departments be empowered to act as sales support.
If finance and legal work in silos it will be impossible to create an effective sales negotiation strategy. If sales and marketing are not aligned, it will be hard to optimize your company's sales potential.
Today, sales management success is about being social and mobile. You can’t always control when and where customers find you, but you can control your social presence and your level of engagement. This is great news for sales managers who want to succeed in 2012. Sales success has always been an art, but it is now equally about science. As a sales manager, your job is not to get there before the competition or win the war on price. Your job is to equip your team to find and follow the right opportunities, engage with prospects early and with intelligence, and create an overall culture of success.
Image via Grant Cochrane/freedigitalphotos.net