Sales Management is Dead – Long Live Sales Leadership and Coaching

The sales landscape has changed and is changing at a rapid rate. The sales tools, techniques and skills that worked in the past, are no longer valid, in the new technologically dependant world we live in today.

There are a few major changes in our world, which has shifted the sales landscape forever.

  • The internet has created a far more informed customer
  • Spray and Pray sales strategies don’t work – Selective Selling – Magnificent 50
  • Millennials in the work place
  • Decisions made by more than one individual in the B2B space

The sales environment has dramatically changed over the past three years and there has been a seismic shift over the past ten years. The old-fashioned method of managing a sales team is completely outdated. As you know, words are extremely powerful and create different pictures in our minds eye.

For me a manager is someone, who is really effective at managing systems. A Sales leader on the other hand is someone, who guides and coaches people, to deliver their best. As the new sales environment has shifted so dramatically, it has become really ineffective to only manage the systems around sales. The new era and the new sales landscape requires real leadership, where sales leaders are not merely Managers, but they act as their sales teams guides and sales coaches.

Sales Leaders show their sales Teams “How” to achieve their Sales Targets

In the past it was an acceptable practice for Sales Managers to merely divide the organisational sales target amongst their sales team. In other words, sales managers guided their sales team daily efforts with the outcome they wanted. This sales management process is no longer effective.

To be effective sales leaders today, need to guide their sales teams as both leaders and coaches. This means that they can no longer manage things at a distance, they need to take an active role in guided, supporting and coaching their sales team towards achieving a common goal.

Sales Managers vs. Sales Leaders

Sales Managers Sales `Leaders
Sales Targets viewed as a whole Sales targets broken back into Sales projects
Focus efforts on one major outcome Coach and support sales team to achieve milestones
Sales plan mapped out up front Individual projects supported according to their unique needs
Sales are seen as linear and one dimensional Sales are seen as dynamic and approached from an Integrative perspective
Sales teams efforts are managed from a distance Sales team is supported and coached every step of the way
Problems and feedback are addressed when they arise Support offered throughout the sales process

Sales Mangers vs. Sales Leaders – How they use sales tools

Sales Tools Sales Managers Sales Leaders
Sales Evaluation Weekly feedback on overall performance Real time sales data on individual sales projects
Sales Approach One size fits all Agile, flexible approach to each project
Support Overall performance review Consistent feedback and coaching support

From the above tables is obvious that sales leadership is no longer a process whereby the systems around achieving sales targets are managed. It has become an agile, flexible process of consistent and regular coaching support and guidance. The holistic view, where one large sales target is pursued, by following a spray and pray strategy, with one generic message is over.

To thrive in this new era of selling, sales professionals need to be agile, flexible and focused on creating a unique message and solution for each future customer. This new account-based approach, where a few perfect future customers are identified (magnificent 50), and a focused sales approach is applied to each one, is the only way to survive and thrive in the new sales environment.

True Sales Leaders are Coaches

Sales leaders need to change their arm’s length, managerial approach to sales management, to a more direct one of guidance and coaching support for their sales teams. As sales leaders become more supportive of their sales teams, guiding them to develop unique sales approaches, by account, they will see huge improvements in both their sales and levels of motivation within their sales teams.

Making Agile Sales Leadership a reality

The success of agile sales leadership, is based on the integration of the right information (data) supplied to the sales team. This information must be acquired by future customer. Each sales professional selects their magnificent 50 customers, which they need to gather as much info on as possible.

To completely understand how sales management differs from sales leadership.

Sales Managers Sales Leaders
Focus on sales objectives and sales goals Focus on supporting the right daily sales activity
Weekly sales objective review Daily huddle to support and highlight daily sales activity
Manage sales objectives Offer consistent sales coaching support to ensure a tailored approach for Magnificent 50
Outcomes driven Daily Sales activity driven
Quota obsession Team and leadership support to encourage the performance of the right daily sales activities

Sales Leaders take a holistic view of their sales team and they focus on both the micro and macro perspectives, ensuring that everything fits together in the most effective way. The sales team is viewed as a team and sales team members compliment and support each other’s efforts. The philosophy of a true sales leader is to utilise all the resources at his or her disposal to create the foundation for long term sales success.

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