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Sales Manager Best Practices

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Blackdot have employed data-driven, evidence-based benchmarking methodologies that have isolated 4 specific sales management disciplines that impact frontline sales results:

  1. Coaching and performance improvement
  2. Process adherence and pipeline integrity
  3. Sales management rhythm
  4. Teaming and quality standards


[edit] Benchmark managers outperform

As the graphs below demonstrate, Benchmark managers - those that sit in the top quartile after being assessed across these four disciplines - consistently generate superior On-Target-Performance in the sales reps they manage:

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[edit] The four sales disciplines that bring success

Blackdot's research has revealed that these four disciplines have a high correlation to performance impact:

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So how do you action these 4 sales management disciplines?

[edit] Increase Individual Performance

Effectively uplift capability, consistency and sales performance across each individual.

  • Create Performance Profiles - Consider both current performance (using metrics such as On-Target-Performance) as well as performance trajectory (using metrics such as CAGR) to develop a more complete view of each salesperson’s current performance profile.
  • Individualise Coaching - Shift from “one-size-fits-all” coaching and performance improvements to an individually-relevant, needs-based approach by determining each salesperson’s performance profile - are they developing, emerging, plateauing or excelling?
  • Adopt Tight-Loose Principles - Recognise that salespeople should always have clearly defined goals and objectives, and loosen the approach to coaching as performance trajectory improves. Once current performance is above target, the approach to evaluation also becomes looser.

Key Outcome: Optimise the focus, frequency and depth of support provided to accelerate each individual’s progression through the performance life-cycle.

[edit] Create believers in sales processes

Develop more True Believers™ who follow our sales process because they believe it enables them to sell more.

  • Leverage the Leader - Create True Belief™ throughout the salesforce. Leverage the results, success stories and assistance of high performers to evangelise the sales process.
  • Drive Process Advocacy - Opportunistically and persistently explain, advocate for and reinforce the organisation’s processes, systems, tools, methodology and language across sales meetings, coaching, and performance improvement forums.
  • Create a Peloton Effect - Make process adherence a minimum expectation (irrespective of people’s tenure or performance level) so as to create a peloton effect in the way the team executes, measure everyone to a common standard and reduce management complexity.

Key Outcome: Increase deal flow, pipeline coverage and the likelihood of hitting targets.

[edit] Create forums that mobilise sales team

Create a set of forums that effectively mobilise the team to sell more.

  • Define and Integrate Key Forums - Consciously devise a set of enabling forums that integrate key sales and marketing efforts across strategy, sales process, results communication, performance management, coaching, and development.
  • Drive for Consistency, Efficiency, and Effectiveness - Ensure that all forums run consistently, are value creating and are a good use of salespeople’s time (which is particularly important for commonly occurring forums such as sales meetings and 1:1 coaching)
  • Avoid Common Mistakes - Be wary of stale or ineffective patterns such as ad hoc scheduling, being retrospective in focus, lack of individual relevance, poor discipline around accountabilities, running to a timeline instead of purpose and duplication across forums.

Key Outcome: Translate disintegrated meetings into a program of enabling forums that mobilise your sales people onto execution imperatives.

[edit] Communicate the culture and expectations

Espouse the desired culture, values, behavioural standards and productivity expectations.

  • Set Non-Negotiables and Manage To-The-Rule - Establish and hold sales people to account on a small number of non-negotiable quality standards that apply universally across the team (such as activity expectations, pipeline disciplines, tracking insight in CRM systems, etc.)
  • Walk The Talk - Set the pace for role modelling in both personal productivity and what’s expected from a quality and quantity perspective.
  • Drive Collaboration And Clear Obstacles - Systematically eliminate unnecessary barriers to selling effectively whilst fostering engagement of other functions to drive people enablement and performance.

Key Outcome: Increased discretionary effort, collaboration and high performer retention.

[edit] Related Best Practices

[edit] Resources

[edit] Author

The author of this page is Marty Nicholas.

Marty Nicholas is the Managing Director and founder of Blackdot in 2001.

At Blackdot’s purpose is to demystify the levers that truly drive sales performance and help their clients mobilise around the ‘vital few’ uplift opportunities that will materially move the needle. Marty is responsible for the development of Blackdot's specialist sales force effectiveness expertise, client base, global growth, benchmarking capability and '12-4-7' sales performance improvement framework.

He has led more than 70 sales effectiveness and transformation projects aimed at driving material top and bottom line performance improvements. These have spanned a range of challenges, regions and sectors including Banking & Financial services, IT & Telecommunications, Pharmaceutical & Healthcare, FMCG and Transport & Logistics.

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