Sales Managers are Agents of Change

I have been in sales for over 4 decades and I have seen more change in the last 10 years than the previous 30. In fact, I expect we have probably seen more change in the role of sales and how it is conducted in the last decade than in the last century.

Change is inevitable and it is happening at an accelerating rate. Staying abreast of the changes taking place, not just in the sales world, but across business generally is a daunting task and one that, I believe, is beyond most mortal salespeople and managers.

It is not the strongest who survive, but those most adaptable to change…Charles Darwin

We’re operating in the fastest changing technology and communications environment ever known and it has on-going significant impacts on how we are going about the business of selling – from finding prospects and new staff to sharing information and nurturing relationships. Sales managers cannot expect to be experts in each of the emerging technologies that are becoming part of everyday sales, but they do need to understand their application. They need to be at the forefront of what applications are being developed and how these can improve the way their team interacts with the market.

Sales managers need to help staff understand the benefits of these changes, help select those most appropriate for the team and work with relevant staff and contractors to ensure smooth integration into the business.

The technological advances being seen in sales are changing the way salespeople contact, interact and manager their interaction with the market. These are the areas receiving most attention under the guise of ‘social selling, but change is much wider and includes:

  • The way sales staff can access information – With the advent of cloud-based services and ever-smarter mobile devices, the ability to access technology to support the sales process has never been greater. Salespeople can access CRM systems, research prospects and markets and develop opportunities from anywhere.
  • Tools for managing sales effectiveness and the sales process (CRM) – lead generation, qualification, account management, pipeline management, performance management
  • Market monitoring, trend analysis and reporting

One of the greatest changes that has occurred in selling in recent time is ‘social selling’. Driven by technology, social selling is changing the way we interact with the market. It’s where the buyers are researching your products and services, your company and you. Research by Aberdeen Group showed that salespeople who use social media are 79% more likely to achieve their targets than those who don’t. Good sales managers will understand this and guide their team in its adoption and not resist change. And social selling is changing the way sales and marketing are aligned within an organisation. No longer is it just marketing who are responsible for promoting the company and its products to the wider market; getting the prospect to the door. Now this responsibility lies with the individual salesperson as they need to be developing a personal brand that helps position them as knowledgeable in their field. Social selling also provides the opportunity for salespeople to network in a totally different manner to the past, engaging in broader markets and with many more opportunities.

We need to understand the way we sold in the past has changed forever, and will continue to change at an increasing rate. Good sales managers know, accept it and guide their team in its adoption and not resist change.

This article was previously posted on Linked In.