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Where is Your Sales Manager?

Where is Your Sales Manager?I sympathize with first-line sales managers, because I have always felt that their job is one of the hardest. They are accountable for a number, have to manage up and down within their own organization, and have to know their customers as well or better than they know themselves. The sales manager helps facilitate the sales process, ultimately making it easier for the sales team to sell and easier for customers to buy. In addition, your sales manager needs to spend time coaching you and your team to ensure you are forecasting accurately and improving your close rates by asking questions to better understand where the buyer is in their buying process. This will allow you to forecast from the customer’s point of view rather than your own. So, if this is all happening, then why are so many sales pipelines “pipe dreams?” Where is your sales manager? Many times, I talk to each member of a sales team to gain an understanding of how sales managers help their sales people qualify deals. In many cases, sales management leaves it up to the sales person. The sales manager may go in towards the end of the sales cycle to shake hands with the customer, ask some questions and handle final objections. But is that the right time for the sales manager to engage with the customer? I always felt it was best that the sales manager get involved early especially in large complex deals. It’s early in the deal that executives on the customer side are engaged since they want to ensure a successful business outcome within a timeframe that is meaningful to them. Executives will share more about their needs and priorities before handing the project over to a project team. Therefore, the job of the sales manager is to begin establishing a relationship early on. Nothing is more important than listening to what the customer is trying to accomplish and by when. They can tell you all kinds of details, if you ask the right questions, when they are engaged. Executives are typically involved in sales cycles early and later in their buying sales process. And sometimes they’re involved throughout, but that is not as typical for complex deals. Sales managers that only get involved late in the sales cycle may not have an opportunity to establish the right types of relationships. As a result, you may not be close enough to the customer to be able to ask the tough questions and truly understand where the buyer is in their buying process. This is critical to helping you forecast accurately since without this knowledge, you’ll be forecasting from your point of view and not the customer’s. Is it not your sales manager’s job to ensure your pipeline is real? Are they taking the information you give at face value, and then validating it later in the sales cycle? One of my sales VPs helped me learn about this first hand. If I was able to get him involved early in a deal to talk to executives, my percentage to close increased exponentially. When things were going sideways or getting too quiet for my taste, he would pick up the phone or visit the executives to get the real picture. From there, we were able to either get back on track and proceed, or know we were nowhere close to being selected. Where is YOUR sales manager? Are they getting involved early in your deals? Or are they coming in at the eleventh hour? Janice Mars, SalesLatitudeJanice Mars, principal and founder of SalesLatitude, is a senior business and sales executive with more than 30 years of experience helping companies build successful sales teams. She has parlayed that experience to help her clients to improve their sales processes, accurately forecast revenues, ensure focus on winnable opportunities, and attain consistent results. View my LinkedIn profile | Twitter   Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Janice Mars, Principal and Founder of SalesLatitude, is a sales performance improvement consultant and change agent focused on growing top performers to impact bottom line growth. With more than 30 years of experience as a senior business and sales executive, she helps companies build successful sales teams by maximizing their time and resources, selling from the buyer’s point of view, and strengthening the effectiveness of leadership. View my LinkedIn profile | Twitter

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