Where is Sales Management?

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We’re approaching two decades into the New Millennium. Still a long way to go to the next millennium, but no excuse for living in the last one.

Lots of tech exists for many things related to B2B sales (and marketing).  CRM got going in the mid 90’s.  Salesforce.com is on a rocket ship ride.  Marketing Automation is in full bloom.  Social selling, content marketing, data enrichment, account-based marketing and selling… All helpful for sales teams.

But where, o where does Sales Management live?

(It’s Friday… so a shout out to Dr. Seuss and the Reverend Jesse Jackson on SNL)

Does Sales Management live in a box?  Or with a fox?

Or is it really in the sales manager’s socks? (Outside the system)

It mostly lives in training rooms, or in the hallways, or by water coolers.  And there may be sales plays defined in a pitch deck, or maybe those plays are loaded in an online folder, or next to your CRM in a notebook.

For most sales teams, sales management lives in the hearts and minds of sales managers and a few A-player reps on track to become managers.

The key asset for your business, your money-making process, can walk out the door at any moment. It’s just wrong – especially in this day and age.

Make Darn Sure: Process Drives Tech

What good is all of the technology around sales, if there is no good way to do the following:

  • Define the Sales Process
  • Implement the Sales Process
  • Inspect the Sales Process
  • Coach the Sales Process
  • Improve the Sales Process

These are uncomfortable topics… because they point out weaknesses in the most important B2B business process on the planet: Sales Management.

No matter how many leads marketing creates, or how fast a rep can dial the phone, send emails, text, look up names online and download them… if there is no effective way to implement a sales process using technology – the sales process is going to be a mess. That means time wasted, sales goals not met… Competitors winning.

Now more than ever, with marketing automation whizzing away, feeding the top of the sales funnel, sales is a high-speed, flowing process.  If an inside sales rep (who BTW spends about 5 months on average in their role) places 50 – 100 calls a day, that means 12,500 – 25,000 calls per year.  And then there is email. Lots of time allocation decisions. Way more than when I was an outside rep, going on 150 meetings a year. Back then, selling was more artsy.

Periodic training sessions and after-the-fact sales reports don’t cut it. They do not influence how sales reps decide — all day, every day — to allocate their time.

How about that “8-touch sales methodology”?

The reality is… and if you look at the data in CRM you’ll see… that there is no such thing.  It’s a mix of 0.0 and 1.75, on average, because the translation of the X’s and O’s version of the sales process to actual sales rep behaviors… doesn’t exist.

What happens in the middle, from 0 to 8 touhes, is where the juicy bits are, including: Qualify, Disqualify, Postpone, Archive, and Revisit.

More hard questions:

Which prospects and customers merit sales time?
  • How is your sales team making this decision? (Plan vs. actual?)
Once reps have made the decision – what do they do about it?  When?  How often?
  • When, according to the sales process, should the rep engage?
  • How should the rep engage? (Dialers, email sequencing and sales enablement are key here… but they’re execution methods, not process management.)
  • How do these decisions vary between reps, teams, product lines, divisions…? Variation exists in customer acquisition, retention and up-sell.
  • How does your sales tech stack enable sales reps to execute on your sales process?

Oh crap.

Sales Management Should be Online, in the System

Honest answers to the questions above reveal that sales management is still living in the 1980’s.

It’s time we put smart technology around the Sales Management process. The data platform is there, thanks to CRM systems, the process management technology is there.  Statistical modeling has always been there, now called Data Science.

I posit that the discipline of Sales Management is process management of the industrial type, now more important than ever as the Sales 2.0 macro trend accelerates.

All other industrial processes have process management technology:

  • Air Traffic Control
  • Discrete and Process Manufacturing
  • Energy Distribution
  • Stock Exchanges
  • Supply Chains
  • Homer Simpson

Even Homer has tech to manage a process.  He sits at the nuclear power plant at a control panel, ready to flip switches and turn dials.  When he uses the control panel, things happen. He’s in control!

When will such controls exist for Sales Management?

They need to be in the system.

Starting now.

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