THE INCREASING ROLE OF THE SALES MANAGER
More than ever, studies indicate the role of the first line sales manager as one of the most important assets to achieve results. Companies have realized how much administrative burden has been imposed on this group, and have worked to lighten the load. The value of the sales manager is to work with people:
- Working across the organization to transfer knowledge from the field, bring various team members together.
- Coach the sales team, giving personal attention to train and guide each rep to their personal goals. Sit down with reps and help become their success planner. Show them how to make the money. Show them the value of happy customers.
- Provide personal service to key customer accounts and help close programs (in combination with the primary rep)
- Provide inspiration for customer values, product solutions and high energy selling organizations.
- Recruit the right talent, assess their potential and coach their sales staffs more — particularly around “how to work with others”.
- Lead the organization to provide meaningful and relevant solutions. Improve the sales experience for the customer. Lead sales reps to be able to adapt, modify, improvise and achieve.
Sales managers will need to become comfortable with different paths to success in Sales than they have experienced before. Internal improvements will likely minimize administrative burdens, and filter relevant information through aggregated data dashboards and performance scorecards. Tools and technology can be added to efficiently connect customers, sales team members, support resources and provisioning specialists. As these relieve some pressure and free up some time, the sales manager will be able to enhance their judgment. A key valuable skill for good sales managers is her/his ability to outline "tiebreakers” between competing objectives and priories.
A well-conceived approach to all this combines elements of organizational structure, coordinating mechanisms, governance policies, and aggregating technology. From a Management point of view – there needs to be a mix of sales management, training and technology to be deployed to enable sales teams. While CRM has been around awhile, it is believed that technology has been seen as too much of a substitute for good sales management. There is a need to invest more in front line sales managers. They are an integral part of leading the sales process.