Sales Management In The Digital Age

Motivate, Engage & Coach

The 3 Key Aspects of Modern Sales Management

Sales organisations have always experienced challenges reaching and engaging with the right buyers at the right time. Technology has never been more helpful in connecting us with our prospects than it is today. Technology is also dramatically changing the face of sales management.

A new breed of digital age sales managers is emerging. They are data hungry and technology savvy. This new breed also behaves more like a modern-day sports coach, craving sales performance insight.

The days of sales managers that drive their teams using the stick method are numbered. Indeed, if you are still taking this approach today, you will be increasingly exposed to a hungry, nimble set of competitors that may very well soon be eating your lunch. They will also attract all of the top talent.

Digital age sales managers live by a new mantra:

  1. Motivate
  2. Engage
  3. Coach

Think of this changing breed of sales management as being more like sports coaches.


How To Build The Perfect Sales Team

Sales Management in the Digital Age

1. Motivate

Sales folks love winning. Give them a target and they will relentlessly strive towards it. So why do we only give our reps one target measured across an impossibly long period of time. Achieving the annual revenue target is of course vital. It is the approach to getting there that this new breed of sales management has overhauled.

Motivate the achievement of ‘Leading Sales KPIs’

The problem with the sales revenue metric is that it is rear-view facing. It’s often referred to as a ‘Lagging Metric’. By the time you’ve realise you won’t achieve it, it’s way too late to do anything about it.

Digital sales managers focus on ‘Leading Metrics’. These are the forward-facing targets that span the journey towards the lagging metric of revenue. Our new breed of data savvy sales manager has recognised that this is the fastest way to drive greater performance from their teams.

Imagine having the ability to drive all of the leading sales metrics that you know make up the path to success. The modern sales manager uses these metrics as a baseline of individual sales performance against which they measure progress.

These metrics will of course be slightly different for every business. But achieving these smaller steps will in turn lead to more closed deals. For example, by having your teams:

  • Qualify leads within 24 hours of creation (the first responder is very often the ultimate winner)
  • Create a certain number of pre-pipe opportunities each week (so the pipeline never dries up)
  • Meet a target of ‘meaningful’ sales call’s each week (the profile of calls that actually connect to a real person. Someone who is a decision maker on a real deal due to close this quarter)
  • Book more meetings or demos with the right level of contact each week (so that deals advance along through the pipe)
  • Build a regular monthly or quarterly cadence of deal closure (so they build towards the overall target)

These are just a small sample of the ‘leading’ sales metrics that take care of the ‘lagging’ sales revenue metric.

Create scorecards that make progress highly visible

Imagine if you could combine achievement of these leading sales metrics into a regular cadence of daily, weekly, monthly or even quarterly targets. This would allow you to drive the sales behaviours right across the sales process that delivers sustained success.

Sales Management - Balanced Scorecard of Leading Sales KPIs

Set an appropriate pace towards the target

It’s unrealistic to expect the attainment of every sales metric to follow a linear path. That is why these metrics need to support the concept of pacing.

There are 4 common pacing approaches:

  1. Constant – for a constant rate of progression towards target across the time period
  2. Front Loaded – for a higher rate of progression at the start of the time period
  3. Back Loaded – for a slower rate of progression at the start of the time period
  4. Late Push – for a fast rate of progression close to the end of the time period

This flexibility allows sales management to assemble a scorecard of metrics relevant for their team.

The use of pacing algorithms keeps individual sales reps on top of their targets at an appropriate rate. Allowing them to rectify any deficiencies before it’s too late.

Create a culture of transparency and success

There is nothing that motivates sales more than transparency of success. The digital age sales manager knows that broadcasting achievement will allow the current leader to gloat in their success. More importantly it will spur the remainder of the team on to catch them up!

There can only be one winner when it comes to an annual revenue competition. However, running multiple competitions focused on the achievement of ‘leading’ sales metrics will create a culture of winning that is shared across the team. By definition, these competitions have shorter lives than an annual revenue competition. This week’s winner of the power-dialler competition may not be next week’s winner. But you can be sure they will all be striving for the prize.

The use of large screen TV displays to broadcast the progress of these competitions for everyone to see is also a sure-fire way to add an extra boost to performance.

Transparent Sales Management

2. Engage

Drive achievement of a ‘sales behaviour’ target

One of the biggest headaches for sales management is driving adherence to the sales process. Plenty of time and trouble (not to mention historical data analysis) has gone into the construction of the process. Yet reps often choose to follow the path of a ‘lone wolf’ instead.

One sure fire way to drive adherence is to measure the achievement of leading sales indicators. Once you start measuring these, you can assign a ‘sales behaviour’ target as well as a ‘revenue’ target to sales folks.

Uncover the true sales performance profiles

The next step is one of transparency of achievement against the behavioural target when mapped to revenue achievement. This is something that delivers rather surprising results, generating 4 profiles of sales performers.

Sales Performance Profiles


As represented in the top right quadrant (shown above). Winners are the group that displayed over 100% achievement of the expected ‘sales behaviour’ target. They also all exceeded their revenue target. These are the top performers that should be closely monitored in order to learn from their best practice sales behaviours.


Shown in the bottom right quadrant, this group over-achieved on their ‘sales behaviour’ target but fell just short of their revenue target. They are exhibiting the right sales behaviours and following the sales process but need a little extra coaching to make it across the line. In the old world, this group would have been lumped in with the “Strugglers” and wrongly treated as such.


The reps shown in the bottom left quadrant did not achieve on their ‘sales behaviour’ target. They also did not achieve their revenue target. This is the traditional group that either need to exit the business or receive remedial sales training fast. They are most likely simply in the wrong job.


The final quadrant (top left) are the reps that achieve their revenue target, yet they do not achieve their sales behaviour target. Dubbed as “Mavericks”, they represent another, slightly different problem. Yes, this wayward set may be hitting their revenue target, but they are not following the sales process. This group are potentially delivering unhealthy deals that may unravel further down the line. Previously this group would have fallen into the “Winners” category and treated as such. However, this group really require the most urgent attention if they exist for you.

You can read more about sales performance profiles here

Deliver intelligent coaching that increases CRM adoption

The first step our digital savvy sales managers take is to focus on user adoption. To increase it, you need to be able to demonstrate the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) for your sales reps. And what’s the number one thing sales reps crave? Simple, they want coaching from their managers. Coaching that will move their deals forwards. However, even the hardest working sales managers can’t possibly be available 24×7 for every sales rep in their team!

What’s the next best alternative? To make that coaching available 24×7 right inside the CRM system. Displaying intelligent prompts alongside every deal will nudge the sales rep to take the appropriate action at the right time. To be effective, the coaching needs to be sensitive to the current state of the deal.

Digital age sales managers transform the CRM system from a passive data repository that is otherwise easily mistaken for a management reporting tool. They turn the CRM system into a real-time sales coach and watch their team flock back in.

Imagine having the power of an intelligent sales coach that nudges the team to achieve the appropriate next action that will move the deal forwards. For example, by clearly documenting the next steps, agreeing the business value with the prospect and including a close plan.

Coach Sales Behaviours

3. Coach

Take coaching to the next level with guided selling

Sales management use guided selling to drive adherence to the sales process. The difference with this new breed of sales managers is that they do not treat it as a passive process.

The new breed of sales manager will have the CRM system automatically check and validate if the required action has been taken or not. They also track both positive and careless sales behaviours to get a real view of progress.

This approach makes it incredibly simple for team working a deal to check if they have left any gaping holes during the sales engagement. Gaps that might make the deal unravel at a later stage.

In this example, the rep is presented with some headline information for the particular stage the deal is in. This includes the stage duration and how many of the required sales behaviours have been completed. From the checklist underneath, it is simple for the rep to see what else is required.

Sales Management - Digital Age

Provide an early warning system for deals that are veering off track

Our digital age sales manager will further seek to automate the final stage of sales coaching. Imagine if you could bottle the amazing ability sales managers have to sniff out a weak deal versus a strong one. Reps don’t want their deals to go west. They would love to close every deal in their pipeline, but many factors contribute to ensure they do not.

Our data savvy sales manager knows they can utilise the achievement of leading sales behaviours mapped against a deal to determine its true health. Utilising machine-learning they drive the CRM system to provide a real-time deal health prediction for every single deal. During the lifecycle of the deal this can be used to see if the deal remains on track to close.

Predict Deal Outcomes

Combined with the guided selling, this level of insight into the eventual deal outcome helps the sales teams determine deals that are veering off track. But more importantly they can understand precisely why it has come off the rails and take remedial action to bring it back on track.

Conclusion: Sales Management in the Digital Age

Technology is dramatically changing the face of sales management. Digital age sales managers clearly map out their sales process. They use leading indicators to measure progress along the path.

These modern day managers make these steps transparent to the whole team and motivate them to achieve against them. They make success transparent and build a culture of winning.

This modern breed of sales managers uses the data insight and technology to provide intelligent coaching in real-time. They use the same data insight to help their team know which deals are healthy and which need immediate attention.

The digital age sales manager thinks and behaves like a modern sports coach. They bring science into the art of selling.

Keen to learn more?  Why not read our guide to building a clean & healthy pipeline.

About SuMo

SuMo increases sales performance by monitoring & coaching the high-value sales behaviours that deliver sales success.

What will SuMo deliver for me?

  • A clean & healthy pipeline
  • A smarter, fitter sales team that follows your clearly defined and repeatable path to success
  • Peace of mind that you will always hit your forecast

SuMo is in use by blue-chip organisations globally such as UBM, Vodafone, Roche, SIGG4S,  and Qlik.