Five Tips for Being a Better B2B Sales Manager

Kevin McGirl

Sales managers have a tough job. Leading a team of salespeople in a world of ever-changing purchasing trends, a proliferation of new engagement channels, and highly educated customers, is stressful. It requires patience, agility, and a lot of motivational guidance. A good sales manager needs to stay on top of their game at all times, and ensure that their team is focused, efficient and most importantly, profitable.

Fortunately, given the digital era we work in, there are new technologies that can make the job much easier. From identifying better sales opportunities, to accessing information anytime from anywhere, sales managers – and their teams – can now engage with customers far more effectively.  

Here are five ways sales managers can harness technology to alleviate stress, build a more cohesive team, boost results – and ultimately, be better at their jobs.

1. Improve visibility

Success in sales demands quick reflexes. If you don’t pay close attention to your customers’ movements, chances are you’ll miss out on some lucrative opportunities. There’s no point in kicking yourself afterwards. There are many moving parts in the sales process, and it’s not easy staying on top of them all.

That said, it’s crucial that you improve your oversight. After all, as the sales manager, it’s your job to know what’s going on in your department. If a line item is still pending approval, a popular product group is down on sales, or a customer has gone quiet – you need to know why. Typically, getting to grips with this sort of granular detail requires analyzing spreadsheets for hours.

Using your existing back office invoice data, you and your team can track your customers’ buying behavior and maintain a full 360-degree view of all account activity – without poring over documents into the night. This will save you valuable time, enabling you to make faster, better – and more informed decisions.

2. Prepare smarter reports

Unfortunately, administration is part of any job and sales managers have to contend with their fair share. One of the most time-intensive tasks is the need to prepare for meetings and put together comprehensive sales reports. The challenge here is pulling all the necessary information from various sources and presenting it in a sensible fashion.

The number of spreadsheets, graphs and tables can overwhelm even the most experienced of sales managers. It’s all too easy to miss important trends, spending gaps or sales opportunities. What’s more, customer data is often out of date as soon as it’s pulled, compiled and sent off in a report.

What you need, is real-time access to information that is presented in an intuitive manner. The right software can do the analysis for you, enabling you to see at a glance where the opportunities are – or where the issues are looming.

3. Follow up on better sales opportunities

Competition keeps you on your toes, which is a good thing. However, playing catch-up in your rival’s wake is no fun so it’s important to always stay one step ahead of the pack. Crucial to this is being first in line when customers come calling.

Thanks to all the information available with a quick online search, customers do a lot of research before even engaging with a potential supplier. In fact, 57% of their decision-making process is already done by the time they get in touch.

Sales software can track your customers’ buying behavior, keep you abreast of their business cycle and alert you to any changes. If, for example, a customer typically buys more supplies in advance of the winter season, you can get in there before the competition to offer well-timed bundled offers or discounts. By the same token, if a regular customer fails to make their usual purchase, you can contact them immediately to resolve the issue.

4. Go mobile

The B2B world is increasingly on-the-go, and – as I’ve mentioned above, increasingly competitive. From a sales perspective, this means there’s no point sitting at your desk when you could be out and about making and closing deals. Of course, to do this effectively, your sales team needs access to the tools that allow them to do their jobs from anywhere at any time.

Mobile technology such as apps and smartphones are key. Salespeople must be able to access their customers’ data and historical sales information, as well as company paperwork, as and when they need it. The last thing they should be saying at the end of a client meeting is: “I just need to head back to the office to check numbers and confirm the quantity, price and delivery date”.  

5. Track team performance

To meet targets successfully, sales managers need to stay on top of what their salespeople are busy with. If you don’t know who your team is visiting – or not visiting – and what deals are in the making, then you’ll very likely get caught on the back foot.

It’s important that you know exactly how your sales team is allocating its time. If certain activities don’t correlate to profitable results, then you need to reassess where your team is focusing its time. Once again. data-driven technologies can provide the insights you need to spot any inefficiencies before they become a costly issue and identify which activities are generating the most return.

New technologies, put to effective use, offer sales managers a real competitive advantage. In the busy, fast-paced world of sales, profit matters more than ever before. However, to achieve better results requires being a better manager – and technology is one of the best allies you can have.

Kevin McGirl is president of sales-i, providers of smart sales performance software that will make managing your customers and products a breeze.