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4 Things That Will Make You a Better Sales Manager in 2017

Bartosz Majewski in

Blog/4 Things That Will Make You a Better Sales Manager in 2017

Choose the right people for your team, let them have your attention, make sure to expand your skillset. Also, think strategically, be goal-oriented, and show up as leader – have you heard these words of wisdom before? I bet you read plenty of posts listing good sales manager skills and competencies, or Forbes articles on this topic (“the best sales managers always have THESE skills”).

 

I’m not saying that various handbooks on how to become a successful sales manager aren’t helpful. They are indeed, and you should make effort to ream them. That said, in the era of advanced technologies, soft skills are not enough. In 2017 you should finally realize how much has changed in the sales industry, and how your role will change too. That’s why I decided to list four things you have to master if you’re working in sales.

1. Learn to tap into where your clients’ attention is

– Always! Be! Closing! – Alec Baldwin was screaming from the silver screen. The year was 1992, the Glengarry Glen Ross movie was just out. Four of the protagonists, as well as the part of the audience interested in real estate got to know the AIDA model (Attention, Interest, Decision, Action).

Alec Baldwin speak about AIDA

Frame from Glengarry Glen Ross movie, 1992

A quarter of a century later, this sales model is as valid as ever and used widely. It’s been a given for marketing and sales teams to capture customer’s attention (A), make him interested in the product (I), prompt a decision (D), as well as make him take action and buy (A).

People have gone absolutely crazy about new technologies in the last decade. Since the infamous 8-minute Baldwin scene the world has changed incredibly, especially in terms of where our attention is these days. We’re gazing into smartphones instead of newspapers and billboards, we’re fighting popups online using AdBlock. A complete rewiring of the attention of most of customers living in developed countries has taken place, including where and how they’re spending time. Sadly, there are still salespeople trying to do business like it’s 1992.

Nowadays, it’s no longer enough to be using the AIDA model to do good as a salesman. You also have to be aware of WHERE to use it and HOW to adjust it to your modern day audience. A successful sales manager knows how to reach customers and attract their attention in the new tech age.

2. Learn to deliver your pitch via a medium fitting your audience

Do you remember the times of landlines and phone booths? Can you imagine having to say, call all Spanish citizens? In the old days, reaching 50 million people would take around 75 years. Now, all you need to get through to such number of people in a mere month is a single mobile game.

reaching more users with good sales skills

From the salesman’s standpoint, being where his customers are is crucial. Before you tell a prospect how wonderful the thing you’re selling is, make sure he listens. It may sound trivial, but in the world, where businesses are still paying for billboards, even though public transport passengers are glued to their phones, it may be worth restating. As a successful sales manager, you have to learn to be available exactly where, and when a prospect wants to see you.

How is this possible? Facebook, Quora, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, blogs, chat rooms, and a bunch of other places. In other words – asynchronous communication. It’s 2017 after all! The best sales managers know you always have to be online and try to establish contact with potential clients across multiple platforms. No one’s waiting for your landline call anymore, to be convinced to make a purchase. Hello?

3. Learn to work in specialized teams

A sales team is one of the company’s links, not its centerpoint – you have to realize this in order to improve your management skills. Inside sales best practices include operating in smaller, highly specialized groups. These units are more effective and work considerably faster.

It’s like clockwork – each element takes care of its task. The same goes for sales teams. Gears have to fit together properly. In order to make the entire mechanism work well, the departments have to complement and push each other.

Back in the days, a salesperson was managing the entire sales process start to finish. Now, sales teams have expanded significantly – pre-sales, customer success, customer service, etc. The trend is a testimony to the fact that smaller, specialized teams are more efficient.

4. Learn to add value for clients by challenging assumptions and providing advice

A number of supermarket cashiers have been already replaced by self-service points and it’s only the beginning. Experts dealing in the retail industry say that the problem of large-scale cashier layoffs may peak in 2022, when supermarkets will start implementing these solutions widely. In five years, regular salespeople will be made obsolete by technology, which is now knocking at their door every day. The reason? Their only task is to close a sale – a job which a customer (especially in the ecommerce industry) can actually do himself.

Dear salesperson, if you want to survive and keep your job, learn to add value to the sales process. It’s high time to realize this – don’t be just a cashier to a client. Be his advisor, consultant.

Imagine a client who wants to buy from you for the first time. He read 7 blog posts, spoke to four sales reps, he’s now convinced he knows all there is to know. He comes to you and says something along the lines of “my back hurts, so I want to buy a chair from you”. You can either – sell him the chair (the target and commission are all that matters after all), or advise him to see an orthopaedic, have therapeutic massage, plus a new chair. And then ask for contact details to his company’s HR manager, to start servicing the entire company.

You must understand what it is that your customer needs most. And how do you find that something? Well, after all it was you who wrote the blog posts he read, based on the 17 books you went through on the issue at hand. Besides, this is your 248th first meeting regarding solving the problem, which the customer is having for the first time.

You and the customer are almost having a parent-child type of relation. Harness this to your advantage and start telling customers what they need before they even think about it. And I don’t mean just about the product that you’re trying to sell. Think about what other value you can bring to the table as well.

Final word

Research conducted by analytics experts at McKinsey shows that soon, 45% of the activities people get paid to do could be automated. Nearly half of professions performed in today’s job market will be replaced by machines within the next 25 years. Around 5% of professions will cease to exist worldwide. Since even your burger is being made by a machine… think about how the sales landscape is going to look in a few years.

Business media and sites like LinkedIn offer tons of articles discussing the soft skillset you should strive to develop to become a better sales manager. Of course, we keep ignoring this because these are issues that will become crucial in 4 years, and this month’s, quarterly, or annual target won’t meet itself. This is a straight path to end up the way cashiers are done these days – just a little bit later.

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Bartosz Majewski

Co-founder of RightHello. Ten years of experience in sales. Has executed business expansion into 38 markets on 6 continents. A regular speaker at business conferences. An active snowboarder outside of work. Avid book reader and blogger.