Tag Archives: sales management

B2B Sales Executives: Are you a coach or a manager?

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Becoming a B2B sales manager is the pinnacle of achievement in a sales department. You can be managing a small team or overseeing the entire sales department for your company. The job carries a lot of responsibility including that of motivating and helping your team grow as sales representatives.

It is easy to get swept up into the details of managing a sales department such as daily statistics, attrition rates, and tracking new clients. Often, upper management looks to you for the bottom line. However, while these tasks are important, your primary focus should be on developing your team.

It is not enough to just manage them. You need to coach them to success.

What is the difference between a B2B sales manager and a sales coach?

Managers focus on the numbers instead of the people. They are taskmasters instead of leaders, and while some of their sales reps can do well on their own, others need encouragement and help learning the best practices for interacting with clients.

On the other hand, a sales coach spends time with team members working with them on planning their approach to customers, offering feedback on what they are doing right and going with them on sales appointments to help them improve. They plan time to develop their people with a goal of success in order to drive sales.

A sales coach encourages their people to grow without taking credit for their sales. This is a positive effort that cements a team together. Sales people like being coached because they learn what they are doing right and what the next step is in their growth.

12 Bad Habits Whitepaper

Coaches are teachers

A good analogy is a baseball coach who works with their players on their skills, and then watches them during the actual game to see where they still need work and to cheer them on when they do well.

When you narrow it down there are three keys for being an effective sales coach:

  • A coach spends time asking questions and listening
  • A coach gets to the root of a problem, rather than trying to make quick fixes to symptoms
  • A coach  teaches responsibility, teamwork, and rewards personal growth

Sales techniques are generally not taught in school; they are learned on the job. Therefore coaching someone to improve their skills is how they learn.

Sales Dialing Automation Software Provides Options for Real-Time Telephone Coaching

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Spending time with sales representatives during sales calls is one of the best training and evaluation tools for a sales executive. For traditional field sales teams, this is common and routine. However, inside sales executives have a more difficult time evaluating sales reps during the sales call.Listening to recorded conversations and role playing are common tools for coaching telephone selling skills, however, both options lack that “real-time” interaction. Some sales dialing software tools provide sales coaches the ability to listen to the call in real time. Sales executives can also speak to their sales reps using a “whisper” mode.
ConnectLeader Director of Sales and Business Development, Mark Lynch authored an article for the ECSell Institute on the benefits of real-time sales coaching.[/fusion_text][/fullwidth]

Keeping your B2B sales team motivated during the dog days of summer

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The summer has a reputation among those in the B2B sales world as being a time of massive slowdown. Inside sales and business development representatives get discouraged at the low sales numbers and frustrated when trying to reach leads that seem to be perpetually on vacation. Morale begins to suffer and people end up wasting time in the office.

Encouraging your B2B sales team to keep pressing forward through the summer months can help keep the company in the black and help ensure that everyone hits the ground running when fall arrives. Here are some fantastic and fun ways to keep your sales team successful throughout the summer.

Lively department contests

Since you know that the sales slump is likely to occur during the summer months, use the time leading up to the slow months to build momentum with some fun contests. Learn what matters most to your sales team, such as a new iPad, an extra vacation day, or other type of fun prize. Then invite people to participate in a fun contest that challenges them to keep their numbers high. Some fun ideas for contests might be:

  • prizes for those who complete the most demos
  • prizes for the entire team if customer satisfaction of a particular level (such as 95 percent of polled customers) can be reached
  • prizes for new clients

Some teams might also find success if they assign a particular number of points to different tasks, such as 20 points for a new client, 15 points for a demo and 5 points for a new qualified lead, and having contests to see what team can obtain the most points in a month.

12 Bad Habits That Destroy Inside Sales Productivity Whitepaper

Keeping sales teams engaged when the office is slow

Sometimes, despite the most exciting contests a supervisor can imagine, the office is still slow. Even the most motivated salespeople cannot sell to customers who are on vacation. To keep the office engaged and enthusiastic about their jobs, there a few ideas you can use to help people relax and have fun while also moving towards sales success.

Celebrate small successes

Recognize hard work by celebrating even small successes, such as closing a big deal or the newbie making their first sale. Have a small party so everyone can celebrate and feel reinvigorated.

Screen inspiring movies

There are a variety of fantastic sales movies that can be used for inspiration or just some laughs such as The Boiler Room, The Pursuit of Happyness, The Goods – Live Hard, Sell Hard and Glengarry Glen Ross. Consider screening one occasionally over lunch breaks.

Role-playing and breaking down sales

Pass the time when business is slow by doing some fun role-plays or breaking down past sales. Look for what went wrong, what went right and what sales teams can learn. It is a great way to practice skills even when not speaking with customers

The summer slump is commonly acknowledged in sales circles as people struggle to find clients through the slow, hot months. To keep your sales team motivated and engaged, you have to be creative, but with proper preparation, it is entirely possible. If you find yourself staring down the approaching summer with dread, consider implementing some of the above ideas and keep your team moving forward towards the more productive autumn.

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Inside Sales Management Debate: Sales Lead Assignment

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Image: Bigstockphoto.com

You’re a new inside sales manager and one of your first jobs is to to set-up a sales process. How do you structure your inside sales organization? Do you use a traditional sales territory process or do you use a round robin process. There are pros and cons to both methods. So we did some research and received input from industry experts. You can decide which system works best for your organization. Of course, we would love to hear your thoughts. You can share your comments on this blog and we’ll share them via Twitter at #salesterritorydebate.

Personal Insights from Patrick Purvis, Director of Sales, DiscoverOrg

As far as our no territory/round robin system, I’m a fan and have us holding on to it for as long as possible. I see the pros as:

  • Even playing field for the reps performance (for us anyone who got the Bay area would automatically become our top rep by default)
  • This creates better morale and healthy competition
  • Even distribution of leads so no one has too many or too few leads in their pipeline
  • Quick reaction to inbound leads, if our SDRs get a hot inbound lead they have 18 Account Execs they can put on the phone right then

There are some cons of course:

  • The biggest challenge is handling lead distribution in systems like Salesforce & Marketo, which aren’t set up for a round robin system, especially when you start putting exceptions in (i.e. we have a major account list that actually IS assigned to our most senior reps).  It gets pretty messy and we’ve had to create a fair amount of custom workflows
  • You could also argue that we lose out on becoming specialists in a territory/vertical.  i.e. if we had one guy always handle Information Security companies, he would become really knowledgeable about that space
  • Our SDRs aren’t paired with AEs, and you might get better communication if they were paired up by territories.  At the same time, you lose out again on the even playing field – a bad SDR or bad AE could screw the other member of that team

We’ve debated the strengths/weaknesses of no territories for a long time and will undoubtedly continue to do so, it may become unmanageable at some point, but until then I’m a fan.

What are the pros and cons of round robin lead assignment?

Posted by Steve Richard on Thu, Nov 15, 2012

After reading our article in the Washington Post, Lanham, MD based PR and communications software juggernaut Vocus invited us in to see how we could help them with lead generation sales training.  During the conversation, they told us about an interesting process that they use to ensure that each of their inside sales reps are equally fed intro sales meetings by the separate lead generation team.  I asked them if I could share it with our community and they said OK. Here are the details:

  • Each member of the lead generation team calls into their territory of accounts to generate qualified sales meetings.
  • Whereas most companies pair a lead generation rep with one or more sales reps, Vocus has no such pairings.  Each lead generation rep is independent.
  • When a lead generation rep schedules a phone meeting, it simply goes to the inside sales rep ‘closer’ who is next in line.
  • The inside sales rep ‘closers’ are simply in a rotating queue ensuring that each rep is well fed with qualified opportunities from a rotation of lead generation reps.
  • They use a snazzy implementation of salesforce.com to ensure that this rotation continues without a glitch.

So I sat back and thought about the pros and cons of this process:

  • Closers no longer feel short changed if they get a weaker lead gen rep.
  • Everyone gets meetings from all of the lead gen reps.
  • Everyone gets the same number of meetings, so from closer to closer, every calendar is balanced with the same number of meetings showing the true sales skills of the rep.
  • Because of the rotation, the inside sales reps have no territory. This eliminates every issue and complaint commonly associated with sales reps and territories — It’s not possible to complain!
  • Lead generation reps and inside sales closers never get the chance to develop that chemistry that, at its best, can make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
  • – I could see the closers getting frustrated over the lack of continuity.  For example I’d be willing to bet that the notes on how the meeting was scheduled vary wildly from rep A to rep B.

 From B2B Lead Blog

2. Match leads based on product or industry vertical expertise

People sell from different backgrounds, giving them unique talents based on their past experience, current and past customers, personality and motivation. Leverage this. The more you know about your salespeople, the more you can use that information to match them with leads they’ll have the most success with. This is why round robin lead distribution can be deadly to conversion. It assumes every salesperson is the same.

 

How to Create a Round Robin Lead or Case Assignment Rule

Posted on  by shellblack

First off, what is a “round robin”? Simply put, it’s a rotation through a group. In the context of Salesforce.com, the term round robin frequently comes into play when assigning Lead or Case records to users. For example, you might have five sales reps working new Leads and, as an administrator, you want to divvy out all new Leads equally among the five reps. So if you had a 100 new leads, you would want each rep to get exactly 20 Lead records.

NOTE: This example will be for Leads, but the same concept applies to Case Assignment Rules

A round robin assignment rule allows you to equally distribute new Lead records without having to manually assign them using a rotation.

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What I look for when hiring a junior inside sales rep

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Before you make decisions based on your gut instincts,take a look of some of the questions I like to ask and what answers I should be hearing.

 

 

Questions for Entry Level Inside Sales Reps with 1-2 years of selling experience

Initiative – Have they started a company, club, or organization?

  • Is there a pattern of stepping in to offer solutions where need is going unmet?
  • Is there a history of competing at a highly competitive level? (organized sports)
  • Do they have basic inside sales experience (aka worked at Enterprise Rent a Car)?

Drive – Can they sell themselves?

Ask them to present themselves.

  • Is there a concise beginning middle and end?
  • Confidence/Quick thinking – Can they sell me our company?
  • From what they understand, can they think on their feet well enough to make a pitch?
  • If interrupted how do they react?

Coach-ability / Humility – Are they able to take direction

  • Have them sell you something during the interview.
  • Ask them what they thought they did well and what they could improve.
  • Then ask them to do it again.
  • Defensiveness tells you they can’t be coached.
  • How much “unlearning” will have to take place ?

Expectations – Can they sustain sales activities when there is no perceived positive outcome?

  • Are they wired for activity rather than analysis?
  • Is the default state to take action?

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ConnectLeader Makes 50 Best Sales Management Tools/Software List

[fusion_text]docurated_best50salesproductivityIf you are looking to  improve sales productivity with your inside sales team, then you should take a look at the latest blog from Docurated, a leading provider of content managment solutions. They’ve compiled a helpful collection of sales productivity tools titled 50 Best Sales Management Tools/Software. ConnectLeader was among the list for the first time (# 45). The list featured a number of prominent CRM solutions including Salesforce.com and NetSuite. It also featured a number of less well-known applications that could really help your sales productivity.

Interesting Sales Productivity Solutions


I scanned through the list of solutions and found some pretty cool and new (at least to me) solutions. Let me know what you think of my choices or if there are other apps that you have used and would like to gloat about. Below are a few of my favorites.


WiseStamp Email SignatureWiseStamp-Screen-Shot

Raise your hand if you’re tired of the old basic email signature. WiseStamp is a simple app that allows a company to create a unique brand across the organization. This app also has a lot of horsepower behind it including central signature management, professional templates, and you can even customize legal statements.


 

 DemoChimp Automated Demos

demochimpscreenIf you sales team is like our sales team, they are making lots of live demos every day. However, being able to automate and customize demos is really interesting. DemoChimp allows you to ask your prospects a list of questions which you can use to customize the demo. Then the demo can be shared by the client team. You can check out their own customizable demo on their website.


 

Bunchball Nitro Gamification

NitroScreenShothoopla and other gamification platforms are helping motivate sales teams and increase their sales productivity. What I like about Nitro is their ability to also engage customers, loyalty programs, and channel partners in order to drive revenues. They offer lots of analytics and technology to improve the customer experience.


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Tips for Building a High Growth B2B Sales Team

[fusion_text]Editor’s Note: We’re pleased to welcome Chris Salisbury to the ConnectLeader sales team.  Chris was formerly with Dyn, the Manchester, NH DNS Provider. Chris will be sharing his sales  tips for ConnectLeader in future B2B Sales blogs. 

When I started out at Dyn, I was the single sales rep. among a team of engineers. It didn’t take much time before they wanted to kick me out of the office because I was being “loud” and talking on the phone all day. It seemed my colleagues preferred a more “Zen-like” environment.

The early days, the b2b sales process was pretty chaotic as we struggled without the proper sales and marketing tools. Everything started to improve when our company adopted Salesforce.com as our CRM platform. In those days, we made lots of cold calls and followed up with emails. We learned that Engineers liked to hide behind email and once they were comfortable, they would accept a phone call.

Managing the Growth of a B2B Sales Team

As the company grew, my team expanded to 8 to 12 sales reps. and at the height of our growth managed  450+ accounts and a full book of business. What really pushed the team over the top was when I started assigning my book of business to my sales team. I would assign the the accounts based upon the traits and personalities of each individual sales rep. This strategy really worked well and we quickly became the fastest growing team in the company.

Finding Reps with that “Sales Mojo”

The traits I looked for in new sales reps was an individual who was hungry for success, driven, passionate and have lots of energy. Some folks call this “Sales Mojo”. Most importantly, I looked for focus. During the interview process, I would ask “if I handed you the world as your sales territory, how would you start?” While there were always lots of variations on the answer, I was looking for focus and direction. Do they have a definitive plan. Some of my most successful reps had direction, planning, and focus down to a science. If they started going off course, they would review their plan and simply re-adjust or pivot. Of course, sometimes being focused and persistent can have a downside. I spent nearly three years chasing one account, even sending  a piece of granite to Europe (New Hampshire is known as the “Granite State”). Unfortunately, they never became a customer. I still wish I could get that one back.

My only regret from my experience at Dyn was that I didn’t have a dialing productivity tool like Personal Dialer from ConnectLeader. I used to make 50 to 60 manual dials as part of my daily prospecting regimen. It would take me all day and it was a real pain. Now I’m making an average of 150 dials a day. But thanks to ConnectLeader’s technology, it takes me about 1 1/2 hours to make those dials. Now I actually have some extra time time to write a blog post or two.

Feel free to contact Chris Salisbury directly at:

Direct Telephone: (603) 952-2512

email: csalisbury@connectleader.com

twitter: @ChrisSalisbury

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Tips for Being a Great Inside Sales Manager

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hardtofind_smallGreat inside sales talent is hard to find… and even harder to keep.
Being a good sales manager can go a long way towards keeping your top sales performers around.The Worst Kind of Managers, a recent article on Time.com, discussed a survey of HR managers which identifed the five attributes of the worst kind of manager.

The 5 Worst Kind of Managers

  • The “crooked politician”
  • The bully
  • The micromanager
  • The workaholic
  • The BFF

According to research from the CEB sales research, other reasons for leaving a job include rigid, inflexible processes and lack of future career opportunities.

Attributes of Successful Inside Sales Managers

Research shows that manager coaching is the critical component in driving rep performance.  To coach a rep to their highest performance level. You must challenge them outside of their comfort zone.“

Sarah Wirth, VP Member Services, ECSellInstitute

 

The ECSell Institute specializes in helping sales managers become better leaders and coaches. They recently published a whitepaper titled The Role of the Manager in Sales Team Motivation which featured research of top performing sales reps. Their research found that the supervisor skills that had the greatest correlation on their success included:

  1. Coaching
  2. Leadership
  3. Helping obtain career objectives
  4. Recognizing and rewarding achievements
  5. Helping them devise a territory sales plan

 

Learn more about sales coaching and sales productivity solutions at our upcoming webinar Getting More Out of Your Top Sales Performers.

Join DiscoverOrg CEO Henry Schuck and ConnectLeader Director of Sales, Mark Lynch for an informative 45 minute webinar as part of the BrightTalk Sales Productivity Summit on May 14th at 2:00 PM ET.

Register for Webinar

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