Selling has always evolved with technology, but the current rate of change is redefining all aspects of the sales job, especially sales management. Add in a younger sales force with new ideas about compensation, motivation and communication, and what is a sales manager to do?
Here are eight suggestions for today’s sales managers, taken from the research of Bill Moncrief, the Charles F. and Alann P. Bedford Professor of International Business.
- Forget the seven basic steps of selling. Embrace social media and encourage it by creating innovative, effective standards and policies for social media selling.
- Take advantage of the internet to find and hire the best candidate. There is a world of information available about potential hires – information that goes beyond the résumé and interview –at your fingertips. You can also utilize virtual interviews to save time and money.
- Technology acumen is just as important for success as personality and selling ability. Look for a broader skillset when hiring for today’s sales force, and provide technology training for older sales personnel.
- Train new hires online instead of on the job or in formal groups. This saves time while providing customized, self-paced training.
- Think beyond the traditional mix of salary, commission and bonus. Millennials have grown up as gamers who enjoy achieving badges by competing against others, improving their own performance, and reaching certain levels, all of which can be adapted to a sales environment, where badges can be accumulated and transferred to monetary rewards.
- Money may not be the only motivator. The old standard of making money at all costs is changing. If social interaction is important, look for creative approaches such as gamification. If being recognized as a top salesperson is the driving force, reward them for prospects generated on LinkedIn or customer feedback on Twitter.
- Replace geographic territories with virtual territories that encompass global accounts. Since a global workforce translates to inconvenient conversations from different time zones, adopt the 80/20 rule: key salespeople handle the 80 percent of sales that come from 20 percent of customers, while virtual salespeople handle the other 80 percent of the customers who still contribute to profit.
- Accept that you are always on the job. Text messaging, Skype and GPS, plus whatever innovative technology the future holds, means sales supervision is 24/7.
“Social Media and Related Technology: Drivers of Change in Managing the Contemporary Sales Force,” W. C. Moncrief, G.W. Marshall and J.M. Rudd, Business Horizons, 2015