sales leadership

Mastering Sales Leadership

Mastering sales leadership requires focus and excellence in five fundamental areas. Achieving mastery in these areas enables sales leaders to develop highly focused, efficient, and effective sales forces.

The Five Fundamentals of Effective Sales Management…

Align sales with the Go-to-Market strategy

Focus on the early stages of the sales pipeline

Achieve coaching excellence

Require customer growth planning

Establish a cadence or operating rhythm

Recently, we put together a brief, two-minute video on the Five Fundamentals of Effective Sales Management, and I explain why they matter so much and the impact they can have on the performance of a sales organization. The video appears below.

 

 

Please visit our “Five Fundamentals” web page, where you can download a copy of the white paper, “Five Fundamentals of Effective Sales Management,” and learn about our Five Fundamentals workshops.

Seven Questions: Are They Leadership Material?

How do you know if a candidate for a sales management role is leadership material?

Sales managers have the pivotal role in a business.  They stand at the junction where a company’s strategy and sales execution meet, and their ability to lead and coach their teams has a profound impact on business results. [Read more…]

United Sales Resources to Launch Sales Leadership Advisory Services

Sales Leadership Coaching Firm Will Offer Advisory Services And Content Library Starting In Early 2015

12/1/14 — ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND — United Sales Resources, LLC (USR) announces today that it will launch new sales leadership advisory services and a world-class knowledge base for its customers in the first quarter of 2015.

“We are very pleased to announce our new advisory services offering, as it will create a new path for our customers to take advantage of our research, expertise and insights on effective sales leadership,” said USR’s founder and President, Matt McDarby.

When released in early 2015, the new offering will empower sales leaders of all levels of experience and capability to lead more effective sales organizations and to accelerate their company’s growth. The new Sales Leadership Advisory services and knowledge base will distill the USR team’s sales leadership expertise into actionable intelligence, insight, and practical advice for business leaders seeking to grow their sales.

“We listen closely to our customers, and we have learned from them that there is a great need for practical, real-time advice focused on the issues facing sales leaders today. If they have questions, for example, about structure, sales process, pipeline management and forecasting, improving performance, or perhaps simply winning their company’s next big deal, we want to be their go-to resource for guidance. Think of it as a way to have support from a world-class sales leadership advisor any time you need it, regardless of the issue or opportunity you need to address,” said McDarby.

USR’s Sales Leadership Advisory Services will include access to an online knowledge base that will be available to customers starting in January 2015. The knowledge base will include exclusive content, research, and tools geared toward sales leaders seeking better sales performance and results. Advisory services and the knowledge base will be available on an unlimited basis to customers in exchange for a monthly or annual subscription fee.

About United Sales Resources, LLC

United Sales Resources (USR) helps small and medium-sized companies to win new business and grow.   Headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, USR provides world-class research, coaching, and advisory services to companies seeking better sales performance and results.  For more information, please contact United Sales Resources at (888) 877-1956, extension 102, or visit our website at www.usr-llc.com.

Media Contact: Matthew McDarby United Sales Resources, LLC, 301-325-4851, matt@usr-llc.com

Sales Depend On Two Things


Successful sales depend on two things, conclusions and invitations.

 

I think we all know that buying behavior has changed over the last several years, mainly driven by advances in technology and the relative ease with which a buyer can investigate potential solutions and suppliers.  The result is that buyers interact with sellers less frequently and later in their decision making process than they once did.  Depending on whose research you read, it appears that buyers are getting through anywhere from half to three-quarters of their buying process without speaking with a salesperson.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

There are two things that have not changed about the buying process, though, and they are vitally important to understand if you want to succeed at selling in the current era of buying behavior.  First, buyers still find value in the process of gathering information that helps them draw conclusions about their businesses.  Those conclusions might be about problems they haven’t fully recognized, opportunities they haven’t identified before, or new or different ways to address issues of importance to their business.

Second, when they are ready, buyers will still offer invitations to those who appear to fully understand the issues and opportunities that exist within their business.  They will invite those others to share information, to talk, to meet, to present, to discuss capabilities, depending on what is most useful to the buyer in that moment.

The challenge for sellers (and all those responsible for a company’s revenue generation, for that matter) is to find new and appropriate ways to help buyers draw meaningful conclusions about their businesses and to elicit invitations from them.

One way that many sales organizations have chosen to address this challenge is to commit to a certain sales approach or set of sales methods that are meant to ensure that they engage with their customers in an appropriate and value-creating sort of way.  I encourage small to medium-sized companies to make that sort of commitment, but I won’t recommend any specific methodology here.

If your chosen sales methodology encourages your sales team to plan to help buyers draw conclusions about problems or opportunities that exist in their business and to elicit invitations from buyers before demonstrating your firm’s capabilities, then it is probably a sound methodology.  Call it what you want.  But you must be honest about your team’s ability to execute those methods if you want to run a successful selling organization.

There are a few questions that I would encourage every leader who is responsible for sales growth to consider right now.

  1. Does my team help buyers draw new or different conclusions about their businesses?  What evidence do I have of that?
  2. Do we recognize invitations from buyers when they are offered, or do we somehow misinterpret them?
  3. Do we approach every buyer interaction with a plan to help the buyer draw a conclusion and/or to earn an invitation to discuss our capabilities?

There is a fourth question to consider, particularly if your answer to any of the three questions above is “no” or “not sure.”

What can I do as a leader if my team struggles with these fundamental elements of successful selling?

If you have some sales leadership wisdom to offer in response to the challenge I’ve highlighted, please share it with others by offering a comment in response to this post.  We would all value your input.

If you have concerns about your team’s ability to drive conclusions and elicit buyer invitations and you’d like to invite me to have a conversation with you, I would love to take that step with you.  My email address is matt@usr-llc.com, and my direct phone number is 1-301-325-4851.  If you are not ready to take that step, then I would like to encourage you to please get to know our team a little bit better and check out our blog on the USR website.

Thank you very much, once again, for your time and attention.  I appreciate it, and I hope this last few minutes has been useful to you.

 

Simple Rules for Leading Sales Teams in the Social Selling Era


Is managing a sales team today any different from managing one before the social selling era?  In some ways, no, and in some ways, yes.

Despite the fact that great “social selling” is really just great selling empowered by the reach and direct engagement that social media platforms promise, there are some important ways in which salespeople need to modify their behavior to differentiate and

Image courtesy of HubSpot.
Image courtesy of HubSpot.

win in the new, social media empowered world.

Considering how they need to behave in order to compete more effectively, it becomes clear that those who lead and coach salespeople need to modify their behavior, as well.  Here are seven simple rules for leading sales teams in the social selling era.

1. Encourage salespeople to contribute thoughtful content in relevant groups and forums.

Buyers will engage with salespeople who offer thoughtful commentary, share content, and pose questions that relate to the buyer’s business issues and opportunities.  Consider where your company’s prospective buyers might go to seek out information about problems they have or opportunities they seek to capture.

That is where your salespeople need to engage.

2. Help salespeople see the value of establishing a personal brand.

We know you’ve heard it before, but a personal brand is meant to help others understand who you are — and what you want to be known for. Sellers who want to be seen as opportunity creators, problem solvers, and brokers of valuable resources need to put some effort into their online profiles and messaging to ensure that their “brand” message is clear.

Once salespeople see the value of establishing or improving their personal brand online, their managers can help them to consider ways to strengthen and clarify their message.

3. Guide their social engagement toward the desired outcome.

‘Likes’ and ‘Shares’ don’t pay the bills. Sales do. A sales manager can be instrumental in helping a salesperson convert social engagement into buyer action and commitment. Consider creating a “social engagement pipeline” where a sales manager and salesperson focus some time and effort on the earliest, nascent stages of engagement with prospective buyers. Simple questions like …

“Tell me about Jane Doe. It looks like you have a nice exchange going with her in a LinkedIn group.  Have you asked her if she’d see any value in possibly having a phone conversation with you about that topic / reading our article about that topic / recommending anyone else in her organization who might also find value in discussing that topic?”

… can be really helpful. The point is salespeople should be encouraged to think about questions they can ask and actions they can propose to those with whom they are engaged over social media.

4. Measure the impact of their effort.

How will salespeople know if their social selling efforts are bearing fruit if they don’t track their efforts?  A sales manager can encourage some discipline by helping salespeople to track their online efforts.

For example, how many times a salesperson is able to convert social media contacts into real, live prospects or viable opportunities in a given time period might be good to know. Give them a target for social contact conversion, and revisit their progress periodically.

5. Take a long-term view on social selling.

Social selling may not give salespeople the kind of immediate gratification that they’d like … but they must stick with it.  Sales managers can play a role in ensuring that they do.

6. Ensure buyer focus in all that they post.

Salespeople must not violate the basic rules of communication with buyers just because they are posting on LinkedIn or Twitter.  Buyers are no more forgiving of sellers that push their own agenda online than they are of sellers who do so offline.  In fact, buyers have the power to literally block and ignore salespeople who appear to be too focused on themselves, their products, and selling.

7. Help them draw the conclusion that the world of buying and selling has changed, and old methods are becoming less effective.

If salespeople don’t pay attention to the way potential buyers want to interact online, then eventually, they’ll have no one with whom to interact!  The manager’s task is to help salespeople see the risk of not changing and the potential payoff of engaging with buyers in a more effective way.

Do you have examples, good or bad, of how sales managers or salespeople have adapted to the social selling era? Do you have questions about effective sales leadership in the new era of selling?  We’d love to hear them in your comments.

This article by contributor Matt McDarby was first published on the HubSpot blog.