The Sales Manager’s Checklist for 2018

Dec 18, 2017 | Sales Leadership | 0 comments

As a sales manager, what are you doing to lead your team to success? Are you taking advantage of resources and tactics to better train and equip your team to reach their goals?

In 2018, trends in sales enablement and automation will continue to transform the industry and change the way managers lead their teams, day in and day out. Sales teams will need to continue to adapt, in terms of both technology and the day-to-day activities of reps, to achieve maximum growth next fiscal year. To get the most out of your efforts every business day, be aware of trends in selling and sales enablement, the growing importance of customer experience, and utilizing analytics while incorporating social media to drive sales.

To help you do so, here is a checklist for sales managers to implement in 2018 to effectively lead their teams, stay ahead of the competition and surpass quota next year:

1. Implement Sales Tools and Automation

Sales tools and automation have become the norm and are now more advanced and in-demand than ever. Forrester found that customers expect fast, personalized experiences through frequently-updated apps. Having access to real-time, accurate data is a game changer when it comes to managing your sales team. So why not better identify and qualify leads and manage your team with a sales enablement tool.

A sales enablement tool can give sales managers unprecedented insight into the calling activity of reps and allow them to visualize their sales productivity on-demand. Doing so has the potential to not only improve training and coaching but also increase ROI. Over 75% of companies using a sales enablement tool report that their sales volume improved over the past 12 months. Increase your team’s performance, set benchmarks for success, shorten the sales cycle and give yourself and your reps the tools for success.

2. Utilize Call Recording and Analytics

The Bridge Group reported that improving sales team productivity and performance was the #1 challenge for sales managers in 2017, the fifth year in a row. However, recording your reps’ sales calls, meetings and demos will provide your team with better analytics and insights. It will also contribute to improved coaching and SDR training. Keep in mind that every phone-based conversation is an asset. Ensure script adherence and compliance by agents through using a tool with speech analytics, allowing you to capture and interpret both customer insight and agent behaviors. Overall, call recording creates two-way accountability between sales managers and reps. Most importantly, it will provide you with the KPIs you need from previously inaccessible phone data information.

3. Shift Towards Account-Based Marketing

Focusing on account-based selling enables your reps to effectively sell to a targeted list of accounts through highly personalized messaging on a variety of channels. Deliver value and personalization driven by the rep and target multiple decision makers. The focus is on quality, instead of quantity as the traditional funnel is flipped. Instead of casting a wide net, focus on personalization and targeting a few, high-value accounts. This approach provides better quality prospects. Not to mention it can shorten the buying cycle, increase conversion rates and reduce churn. A sales enablement tool can also help you do this cost-effectively by measuring progress and tracking metrics.

“By 2020, 70% of sales teams will be using analytics to understand their customers. Companies who are able to target potential customers with the right messages at the right time will win.” – Tiffani Bova, Global – Customer Growth & Innovation Evangelist, Salesforce

4. Try Out Social Selling

As a sales manager, social selling goes hand-in-hand with building trust and relationships with prospects or clients. According to a 2017 Sales for Life study, reps who use social selling are 40% more likely to hit their revenue goals—and can expect a 57% higher ROI. Improve sales figures by engaging with prospects via LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to both build and manage your pipeline. Determine which platform will best meet your criteria and reach the demographics you are targeting for the best opportunity to network.

Further, social media can provide insights into customer feedback on your product; being aware of these dialogues will better equip reps to reduce churn and improve customer relationships. According to Entrepreneur, leads generated by reps via social media convert seven times more frequently than other leads. It takes five to seven impressions for someone to remember a brand, so encourage your sales team to collaborate with marketing and drive content on these platforms to ensure you stand out from the competition.

5. Focus on Customer Experience

These days prospects are looking for a seamless, personalized experiences. Optimizing for mobile-friendly content is a huge trend—and having a sales intelligence tool that is accessible on any platform is key for sales managers. However, while automation may be all the rage, do not forget to balance the emphasis on technology with personal selling. This will always remain a key part of building trust with the customer and ensuring their experience is easy and seamless. It is not all about growth; coaching reps will also be an important role for managers. Sales managers must ensure that SDRs are equipped with the skills they need to focus efforts on nurturing customer support and retention.

“If a rep has a lot of relevant conversations they will end up with a pipeline full of nothing. If they have meaningful conversations they will have a pipeline that continually has pushed deals from one cycle to the next. If they have compelling conversations they will have qualified opportunities with confirmed next steps and end game in sight.” – Richard Harris, Owner, The Harris Consulting Group and Dir. of Sales Training & Consulting, Sales Hacker.

6. Use Review Sites

Review sites can be a great tool for sales managers. Built on data and relevant reviews, they play a significant part in the purchase process of consumers and companies. According to a 2016 Harvard Business Review article, over 90% of purchase decisions are influenced by peer recommendations. Further, 84% of B2B buyers begin the buying process with a referral. Many sites offer the ability to sort through reviews to find the most relevant opinions based on your industry or the tool capabilities you are looking for. Sites such as G2 Crowd, which ranks Gryphon Sales Intelligence as the #1 Sales Performance Management Tool for Enterprise, offer thousands of consumer reviews and can show how your product stacks up against the competition.

“Social proof is no longer an option – Ratings and online review posts now dominate the world, and the decision-maker’s choices.” – Jeffrey Gitomer, Best-Selling Author, The Little Red Book of Selling

Want to Become a Productive Sales Manager?

Sales trends in 2017 were all about technology, relationships, and the areas in which they intersect, and clearly from the list above these will continue into the new year. Use these tips and resources to better equip and train your team and create two-way accountability between reps and yourself as a sales manager. Doing so will help yourself and your team reach maximum productivity, set a path to success, and hopefully surpass quota and increase ROI next fiscal year.

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