Are sales managers still needed? 3 conscience questions for retention or exit.
What does a sales manager really bring to the table? In this digital age, when data about prospects is so much easier to find for sales people. A time in which each member of your team is expected to be self-managing. Why, then, does your sales team need a manager? Your team has the relationships in the market, or develops them in a way that best suits them. What about setting a target? Doesn’t a self-managing team know what is feasible? Moreover, if you work in a listed company, the targets come from shareholders and financial colleagues, and the sales manager is just a ‘messenger’.
So why do we still need a sales manager? In addition, such positions are costly. A large investment with an unclear yield.
Here are some A/B conscience questions for sales team who report to sales managers and executives who employ sales managers:
- A) Does he only announce and distribute the target with a few motivational talks? Or….B) does he regularly analyse your target markets and translate the analysis into a plan of action? If the answer is just A, then he leaves the team with stress and an unclear roadmap to success. Motivation in sales and actions to be taken are questionable at best. If the answer is B, then he knows how to substantiate targets with a plan of action. In which he involves everyone, so both sales colleagues and technical colleagues (who see opportunities with customers on a daily basis), from the start. This makes the plan executable and feasible for everyone. This way, he commits, motivates, and directs the colleagues in a substantiated way. More focus, direction, and chances of success.
- A) Does he set out the plan separate from the marketing colleagues? Or….B) does he seek cooperation with marketing on a daily basis? If the answer is just A, then he is missing opportunities to check his plan of action in the market via targeted events and online actions. Note: this is not the good old ‘let’s try Google Adwords for a month’. Targeted means: using the right marketing medium on a specific target group. Now that more and more customer data is becoming available, targeted (online) marketing represents a huge opportunity. To map prospects, trigger them, and allowing sales colleagues to bring more relevance to the table. A sales manager uses marketing every day, and takes the ‘cold and the outdated pushing’ out of sales.
- A) Is he in the office with a spreadsheet to ‘facilitate’ the sales colleagues? Or….B) Does he participate in sales talks and show others how to ‘close deals’? If the answer is just A, then get rid of this internal tiger immediately. Because now, he is no more than an additional layer within your team, which increases the chance of miscommunication between the board and sales or what happens in the field. The adage of ‘a good salesperson is a bad manager’ is no longer true, because each of your customers wants a continuously active relationship. A good sales manager does not float above a sales process, but is a part of it, so that he has a true sense of how customers react and how colleagues act. How else can he coach his people toward greater effectiveness? If he himself is not vulnerable in the field? Or does not win or lose a deal?
Frits Willem Bakker