Leading from the War Room: Building a Battle-Ready Sales Force
It can often seem that running a sales force is like fighting a war—and in fact it more or less is a war between your company and your competitors. The prize is new prospects, new customers, sales, customer retention, and market share.
As a sales manager, your troops are your salespeople. You want those troops to be as battle-worthy as possible. You want them to return as winners—for their own satisfaction as well as the bottom line.
What are the best methods to make your team battle-ready and lead them successfully?
1. A Competent Fighting Force
Before you can fight a war, you have to have troops. Similarly, to have a sales force you need to have sales reps. If that sales force is going to win, those sales reps need to be skilled and effective at what they do.
2. Withstanding the Heat of Battle
In military maneuvers, there is an enormous amount of difference between battle tactics of even 50 years ago and those of today. It’s a similar scenario in the sales battleground: That traditional sales rep is going to be left far behind in the trenches by a the modern sales force enabled by the Internet, social media and leading-edge sales automation.
3. The Sales Process: Your Tactical Procedure
For sales reps, the sales process brings an orderly progression to sales cycles, and for the sales manager it provides a positive direction through which he or she can supervise the sales force.
4. Sales and Marketing: Run Up the White Flag
As sales manager, you may have limited interest in what Marketing is up to. You may have various beefs with them, but you have been content to let Marketing do its job and let the sales force get on with selling. But Sales and Marketing are like two units of the same overall fighting force.
5. To Win Battles, You Need Great Intel
The stories of battles decisively won or tragically lost due to intelligence are legion. What would be the “intelligence” for you as a sales manager and for your sales force? With the goal of making sales and winning customers, it would be the “intel” of what your product or service could fulfill based on what potential customers need, want and desire. It would be clues to their pain points.
6. The Skill of Leadership
You’ll hear many stories from combat veterans about that sergeant they could always count on—the leader that would bring them through hell so they would survive to tell the tale. Such leaders learned to lead—and so must sales leaders.
7. The Safe Base Camp
A combat military leader knows that there must be a safe base camp—a place troops are as safe and secure as possible, and from which they venture out to battle and back again. As a sales manager your “base camp” is your sales department—the environment you create in which your salespeople can thrive and sell to their fullest. This safe place is the crux of efficient sales management.
8. Empowering the Salespreneur
Fighting forces are given little freedom of decision. They are given strict orders on how to proceed, and are expected to follow their orders to the letter.This is one way that a fighting force and a sales force dramatically differ. For as we are now discovering, sales reps require as much freedom to decide and act as they can be given.
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