Online Support for Sales / Account Managers - Where it Counts
Sales Management with ManagerCloud
The following key issues persist in all sales organizations in the B2B business, sometimes more and sometimes less strongly:
- Objectives: Objectives come above all else, they are the starting point for the strategy definition process. A missing or unspecific goal scenario has a negative impact on all other relevant success criteria, primarily on motivation and strategy.
- Strategies: Wrong sales and account strategies due to wrong objective, incomplete market and customer knowledge.
- Behavior: Demotivating management principles in sales management, poor customer orientation (low interaction rates of key decision maker level of customers) and reactive / opportunistic working methods combined with inconsistant strategy implementation in account management, poor preparation of customer interactions
Standard measureswie like incentive / motivation events, sales seminars, the introduction of sales methodologies lead only to a small improvement. Even expensive implementations of CRM systems have a limited effect in the B2B key account businesses because it is about a small number of customer relationships and a small number of very large opportunities. CRM systems satisfy the information needs of the sales management and they make business problems (small pipeines etc.) transparent. However, they have a limited or even zero effect on all relevant success criteria like sales and account strategies, motivation, behavior of account managers.
Exclusively the sales management is relevant. All key issues mentioned above are key responsibility areas of the sales mangement. Poor sales management leads to a weak sales performance regardless of the available product portfolio. Many sales managers are not supported by sales management tools and many of them do not have the necessary methodology expertise as there is a lack of good sales manager seminars. At least many orientate themselves towards supposed role models and use a demotivating management principle.
Improving Sales Performance
Managing sales units in B2B business environments with large accounts is a highly complex sales management task. In order to be successful there are five areas that have to be observed and improved permanently
„Being successful requires two things: Clear objectives and a burning desire to achieve them“ J W. von Goethe, Germany's most renowned writer
Accordingly, in sales clear objectives and motivation are more important than any other success factors. Of course this is not enough, in particular not in a B2B business environment. Account managers must be able to develop an idea of how and by what means their objectives can be achieved. Strategy and strategy implementation are therefore similarly relevant.
However, during the objective and strategy definition process it is clearly not possible to define appropriate goals and strategies without a perfect knowledge of the business objectives of the customer's managers, who must decide on the underlying investments. It is not possible to achieve our own goals and implement our strategies if our proposals and offers - that we have derive from our goals and strategies - cannot make a significant contribution to the achieving the customer's targets.
Consequently, a high customer interaction rate on a decision maker level (key decision maker and key influencer), combined with a perfect relationship management is a fundamental prerequisite for all other success factors.
A high customer interaction rate on a decision maker level is the
precondition to exert influence
on RFP* specifications and investment decisions and leads to a
perfect customer knowledge
that represents the base for realistic, achievable goals and implementable strategies.
In an ideal situation, it should even be possible to get
information about the competition's strategies
and then accordingly adjust your own strategy.
* RFP = Request for Proposal
Based on our long-term experience in senior sales management, we have developed a sales management methodology leading to improvements in motivation, objectives and strategies as well as behavior. The methodology has been implemented in ManagerCloud.
ManagerCloud supports sales managers in following areas:
Account Managers are supported in following areas:
As the customer interaction rate on the decision maker level has such a massive impact on all other success factors, it should be the most important measure in order to improve sales performance. Using it as a KPI (Key Performance Indicator), it should be the focus of sales management. At a minimum, it should play a significant role in the incentive system.
How to improve objectives and motivation in your account manager teams
Intellectually and in respect to their business expertise, top performers in account management see themselves at eye level with their managers. They expect to participate in strategy decisions and want to decide autonomously within a defined scope. As a manager, you should rather play a facilitating and supporting role while exerting only a relatively small amount of control.
How to improve sales and account strategies
What applies to account goals also applies to account strategies: account strategies must be aligned to the customer's goals and strategies. In concrete terms, our own proposals and offers must become a part of the customer's strategy. If this is not the case, there is no chance to implement own strategy. For example portfolio-centric strategies, often do not address the customer's demand and have no chance to be implemented.
How to achieve a consistent strategy implementation
"A strategy is defined as a detailed plan for achieving a specific goal, factoring in, from the outset, those elements that might potentially impact any action taken. " Strategy as defined in Duden, Germany's most popular dictionary
Accordingly, a strategy definition without a prerequisite goal definition makes little sense. Also, it makes no sense, to define strategies without consistent implementation. A strategy will be implemented by actions (e.g. customer interactions) derived directly from the strategy. Hence, goals, strategies and actions cannot be seen in isolation.
How to improve relationship management on decision maker level
A high interaction rate and a perfect interaction quality on the decision maker level are fundamental prerequisites
- for a perfect and complete customer knowledge, in particular the customer's decision making structures as well as the objectives and strategies of key decision makers
- for a timely discovery of business opportunities
- to exert influence on RFP specifications and investment decisions