When you sell B2B products and services for some years you quickly start to understand why some companies have trouble generating meaningful revenue through sales. Besides untrained sales staff (something you can easily fix) the main problem is managers that have absolutely no idea of the real markets they work into and try to manage through an excel file.
The basic problem comes from selecting sales managers that have no field experience or they where on some other market until recently. So when faced with pressure from above those managers take haven in the only thing they can rely, the numbers.
But, being in the field for the last 15 years has taught me that, establishing trust and creating meaningful relationship with the clients so as to earn or increase the business with them is something that needs to be done face to face (and in some special circumstances over the phone). By trying to manage a salesforce with the data only and without taking into account the relationships of the clients is a sure way to create a lot of problems for yourself and to hinder the development of the company you work for.
- Get out behind the office and hit the streets. You must stay connected with you clients.
- Talk to the salesforce and find out the relationships they have with their clients. Sometimes you are losing sales just because of communication problems.
- Explain the importance of looking at relationships to the C-Level management that most likely live inside an Excel spreadsheet.
- Adjust the targets for each client once you do all of the above to have a more accurate sales prediction. This will also help with unrealistic expectations and pressure on a sales department that is already stressed out.
- Train your people! Nothing will matter if you don’t have properly trained sales people to handle the clients and build relationships.
Here in Greece, our Mediterranean character is a lot more difficult to be managed if you do not take into account our need for personal contact and eye to eye, as we say, relationships. Managing your sales staff from an Excel spreadsheet and not knowing if the are succeeding in that is a really common mistake.
Good luck to everyone!