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What makes the difference in turning on a sales team to exceptional growth?

by Kevin D. Crone

April 9, 2018
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According to our research and work we do for sales organizations, it’s the competence of the sales manager. If you want to execute a new go-to-market strategy that adds more value to customers in every sales interaction, whether or not it gets executed is due to the leadership and coaching that comes from a reinvented sales manager 62% of the time. The normal sales managers ‘carrot and stick’ practice still has some impact and 26.6% of the difference comes from the manager’s fundamental integrity, commitment to the growth of people, and willingness to give inspiration and recognition.

Today, the structure of buying has changed so much that a newer style of selling and subsequently a new sales manager style is required. What about the other 74%? What is the new style? What is required of the reinvented sales manager?

Believe it or not, we found that the sales manager has to be out there selling, working with customers, and adjusting their own attitude and behaviours so they get it themselves. The new customer/buyer wants value on every call. That value is based on the salesperson teaching customers new insights about how they can improve their business.  Now you may feel “we always do that.” Maybe you intend to do that, but when you are talking about your product and service all the time, you may not be dong what is required.

It takes up front work to know and develop those kinds of insights before you can get into a solution conversation. Customers/purchasers are informed, can do a lot of thinking before salespeople get there and are not willing to listen to the same old product-peddling or service conversations. Heck, they aren’t even that interested in salespeople doing their on-the-spot solution analysis unless they’re startled about something they didn’t realize is affecting their business. Purchasers want help with their ability to compete, to win new revenue and/or to reduce costs. Bring them insights in these areas and it opens up valuable conversations.

Salespeople need to connect to the buyers, their competitive issues, and connect the dots of an improved offering that provides the new value needed. Well-read and informed managers usually get the theory of all of this but product, service and even in some cases, solution selling habits are invisible to even the sharpest sales managers.  They need to develop new behaviours that lead to different habits.

The New Sales Manager:

  • Is a serious coach on those new habits for his/her people. It is not enough to hire the best and then leave them alone.  They will produce for now, but won’t as the different purchasers demand and control the sales process even more.
  • Spends time rethinking the impact of their offering, the changing and demanding style, and is competent at engaging people in the same conversation of what is required, and what changes are needed and expected.
  • Uses marketing-type thinking in developing and teaching the insights required for customers of similar needs and to continually customize them for particular clients in advance of sales calls.
  • Realizes that the more conscious incompetent salespeople won’t change without coaching and training efforts, regardless of past successes of the team.

The marketplace has changed. Salespeople must adapt and change and, if they don’t, slow growth and tighter margins will be the result. The sales manager needs to be a prepared and disciplined coach and 28% of the difference will be because of it. 16.2 % of the difference comes from the sales manager developing and driving a revised sales process with at least 65% of salespeople complying. Subsequently, their people know how and become competent at how to connect, convince and collaborate with their clients/customers. When they don’t, they make corrective action through their coaching, leadership and management actions.  The most important attribute (29.2%) is because of the sales manager’s new way of solving deal-level problems with salespeople and the customer. They practice innovation techniques.

Coaching increases performance. Every year we conduct a Summer Stretch Camp for our customers (Sales People & Sales Managers ) to reinforce habits and develop new ones. Without this follow-up and experiential learning, progress and momentum become stalled.  Everyone needs inspiration, coaching and a stretching experience.  We are never as good as we think we are.

MMM Action

As a sales executive or salesperson, what actions are you going to take to be consciously competent of what it takes to compete?

Have a great week!

Kevin D. Crone
Dale Carnegie Business Group
(905) 826-7300

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