My loyalty stems from watching a mentor from earlier in my career construct and implement a process that became a motivating force for achieving results. When I transitioned from sales into management, I followed his lead and began incorporating this critical element into my work. I now credit it for my success.
How to Control your Team with a Simple Sales Management Process
Simply put, a sales management process is a disciplined approach to driving multiple facets of performance, with regularly scheduled touch points along the way. By defining such a process, specific to the goals and culture of your own organization, you can drive both execution and accountability over the long term.
I recommend this type of a process for any sales leader, whether you are responsible for a team of direct-reporting individuals or a larger global team. Even senior sales leaders should institute their own consistent, repeatable management process so that everyone can under them — every individual, every line of business, and every division — becomes aligned and committed to the same strategic path.
Sales Management Process Implementation Priorities
When you introduce a defined process into your organization, know that it’s not a short-term exercise running over a 30- or 90-day cycle. It takes discipline and a long-range view to gain the necessary buy-in and see results over time. Among your priorities should be the following:
- Creating a structured and disciplined team cadence, which adds reliability and predictability by providing regularly scheduled opportunities to connect, update, regroup, and reenergize members of the team
- Building in accountability for execution of each component of the process
- Fostering an environment of collaboration and sharing of ideas and experiences
- Honing necessary skills and expertise through annual individual development plans
Crafting the Sales Management Process
Account planning sessions for strategic prospects form the foundation of the sales management process. What you are accomplishing in these regularly scheduled sessions is working as a team to better understand all that’s happening within specific potential accounts.
- What industry are they in?
- What kind of pressures exists within that industry?
- Is there any transformation occurring within the industry?
- What are the performance trends within each prospect’s company?
- What are their recent financial results?
- What new products or services are prospects offering?
- Have they acquired any new companies and, if so, how is integration going?
- How are they viewed by their clients?
- What is their value proposition to their clients?
- What are their key business objectives and growth initiatives?
Information about prospects can be researched and accessed in many ways: news releases, company websites, industry trade publications, financial reports, sites, such as Hoovers and LinkedIn, and company alerts through LinkedIn Navigator, Google, etc. The goal is to gain a well-informed understanding of the prospect organization, where it’s headed, recent company updates, and any obstacles or pressures it faces. Additionally, it’s important to identify the key people within the organization who are aligned with how your company can help support their key initiatives.
The point of all of this information gathering is to determine:
- How your organization can best help them achieve their business goals and
- Effectively taking this understanding and creating impactful messaging that will resonate and align with key business objectives of the contacts that you are focusing on. This message should vary depending on the role and responsibilities of the individual that you are contacting.
As a result of the account planning sessions, you should be well prepared to develop a defined strategy for engagement that identifies who on your team will be responsible for which elements. This typically would involve several individuals, including sales professionals, subject-matter experts, and support staff. Progress, milestone, and strategy updating should be addressed at regular intervals, typically monthly.
There’s a lot of homework to be done before Call One is made to the prospect, which is why this element of the sales management process is targeted to larger opportunities, often national or strategic accounts. If there is no account-planning component to the sales management process, you risk putting forth a much less effective message to your most important potential accounts. The value that you and your group create by spending productive time in thinking about the best path forward allows you to deliver a much more impactful proposition that will surely resonate with the prospect. Your chances of success improve when you can focus your messaging and value on driving improved business outcomes for the prospect. The upfront time that you invest allows you to convey greater value and gain credibility, gaining entrée to these most important accounts.
In my next post, I’ll cover the essential element of team cadence in the sales management process, addressing how it builds accountability and results.