6 Tips for Building Effective Tools for Sales Managers.

Diane Holt_Customer Success Manager_Tools for Sales Managers

Diane knows a thing or two about building effective tools for sales managers. Not only is she one of our top Customer Success Managers here at CloudApps, working with the likes of Vodafone, BT and Roche, but under her belt she also has ample operational experience, analysis and reporting mastery and an interesting past in law enforcement…

We could think of nobody better to tell us how to provide sales managers with the tools they need to be successful.

From an insightful conversation with CloudApps Customer Success Manager Diane Holt .

Sales managers shoulder a heavy load. The success or failure of entire sales organisations falls on them and their ability (or lack thereof) can influence talent retention, productivity and overall revenue attainment.

Which is why, finding the right tools for sales managers is so important. 

However, it’s not necessarily a dearth of tooling that is putting a strain on managers, but instead, the lack of appropriate training, integration and enablement around them.

Tools for sales managers
Gartner pins the blame for rep attrition on bad management, placing Manager Quality and People Management as the second and third most popular reasons sellers quit organisations.

A Disconnect Between Tools for Sales Managers and Rep Performance

Undeniably, sales is about the big number.  The aptness of sales managers will always be measured by how closely they can land to their assigned target. 

Therefore, their focus will always be on pushing reps to reach quota, producing an almost black and white view to performance – a rep who hits quota is good and a rep who misses it is bad. 

Tools for sales managers_linear performance

On the face of it, that’s a very linear view of performance that is easy to measure and for which you need very simple KPIs and technology.

For this reason, in organisations where sales managers are compensated only on the achievement of that target, it’s not uncommon for the adoption of technology to be low. 

However, for top tier sales leaders, performance is not so simplistic. They know top sellers don’t just get lucky and that laggards are not just lazy. 

The singular scale (i.e revenue) in which performance is measured is missing a layer of complexity. A behavioural axis that can start giving us a more detailed picture of sales success. 

Tools for sales managers_team performance graph

Data like this can have a hugely beneficial impact on the effectiveness of a sales team. This insight can tell us, unequivocally, if a middle performer may be doing all the right things, but not managing to hit their number. Or, on the other hand, if a great closer is actually missing crucial steps on the sales cycle – with disastrous consequences in the long-run. 

Insight into sales behaviours is being used by one of our customers to measure the effectiveness of their sales training. Having a clear view into the actions and cadence of individual sellers, allows them to design tailored training programmes to target specific skill gaps. It later allows them to measure the impact these programmes have on the ability of reps to reach their number – thus achieving clear ROI for their training initiatives.

Which is why I feel that if the tools being provided to sales managers are not able to measure performance in such a detailed way, we’re doing the entire team a disservice. 

It is so important that we arm managers with easy-to-use tools capable of retrieving and crunching big data, so they can glean actionable insights to drive their team forwards. 

6 Way to Make Tools for Sales Managers More Effective

The trouble with tools for sales managers has little to do with functionality or availability but instead, with the sheer volume of what’s on offer. And it’s creating a sort of process paralysis. 

It is therefore important to choose what we implement wisely and that we invest enough time on making it relevant to the daily tasks of our sales managers. 

We must remember that the main purpose of team leaders is to make their workforce effective. So the sole function of technology is to facilitate this task. 

With this in mind, I’ve put together some tried and tested tips that will guarantee your tools set the right foundation for better sales performance.

1. KISS (Keep it simple, stupid.)

Not everybody is a fan of technology. Commerce is in its core a human-to-human activity, so most sellers will be reticent to waste their time on anything that prevents them from doing what they’re good at – selling. 

Don’t allow your technology to stand in the way of that. Build tools that perfectly match the selling cycle and provide clear and relevant actionable insight to drive leadership decisions. 

2. Discard what doesn’t work.

Sales management is already a busy role. So reduce the noise wherever possible. 

When it comes to tooling, relevance and ease of use are the top priority. Only keep functionality that is proving valuable for the user. 

Anything else is just a distraction. 

3. Integration is key.

There is one clear hurdle a lot of the sale orgs we work with tend to trip up on. Bad integration between tech stacks.

Never be in a position where the technology is conflicting with each other. Or worse, where managers need to travel to different sources to grab the data they need to get their job done. 

Centralise and integrate as much as possible. 

4. Request and reward good use of technology.

Managers are measured on revenue attainment. Not appropriate use of technology.  However, if you wish your managers to improve their use of your probably very expensive kit, there’s no harm in simply asking them to do so.

And if adoption still remains low, look at implementing some form of comp plan for better use of the tech stack. 

5. Offer ongoing training.

Everybody has a different level of proficiency when it comes to technology. Some people are just naturally more tech savvy than others. 

It’s worth keeping in mind that people learn in different ways and at different rates. 

One thing is widespread, though.  Nobody is ever going to use a piece of technology if they don’t know how it works. So offer ongoing, tailored training to every user. 

6. Remain open to feedback.

If you’re building tools for sales managers, you should make them part of the conversation. Allow for honest feedback and mould the technology to meet their needs.  Remember to review, assess and output.

A good sales leader that is armed with clear data and effective tooling is the pinnacle of sales excellence. 

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