Saturday, May 15, 2010

Inside Sales Leader vs Manager

The difference between a Leader of Inside Sales and a Manager of Inside Sales is dramatic. I would guess that most companies don't even bother making the distinction because to them it's just semantics. There are numerous companies looking for inside sales managers and a small handful looking for inside sales leaders.

When is the last time you saw an open job posting on the internet that said, "We are looking for an experienced Leader of Inside Sales." This simple change of one word comes with a dramatic shift in expectations and requirements. With the help from a really cool article from FutureVisions we are all one step closer to knowing whether we are managers or leaders. Which are you? Which type of person does your organization need?

Managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right thing. The difference may be summarized as activities of vision and judgment — effectiveness —versus activities of mastering routines — efficiency. The points below indicates key words that further make the distinction between the two functions:

· The manager administers; the leader innovates.

· The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.

· The manager maintains; the leader develops.

· The manager accepts reality; the leader investigates it.

· The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.

· The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.

· The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.

· The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.

· The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader has his or her eye on the horizon.

· The manager imitates; the leader originates.

· The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.

· The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.

· The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

Personally I would say that I am a very good manager (60%) that demonstrates a lot of leadership (40%) qualities. I have a lot of work to do and have lots of room for improvement. The more experience that I gain, coupled with great success and great failure, will allow me to get to where I want to be.....100% leader.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Inside Sales Barometer of Success

A good barometer of success for an inside sales leader is the level of sharing of best practices across your team. I have to admit, my current team could be doing a much better job at this. It is my job as their leader to make certain they are constantly sharing what works and what doesn't work. It's imperative that they not only share with prospects/clients, but also with each other.

When I think of best practices I think of two things: First is the act of doing a best practice and second is the act of sharing a best practice. Good inside sales people share best practices with their prospects/clients all the time. They ask prospects/clients how they are getting value from their solution, so that they can share the successful ideas of others with others. Make certain one of the "others"..... is the team they are working on.

Sharing ideas with co-workers and seeing them benefit from your ideas gives people a sense of purpose. Sense of purpose is one of the main intrinsic motivators I wrote about in an earlier post. It's time that I start heavily promoting the art of sharing.

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Importance of Aligning Inside Sales with Account Management

Inside sales teams and marketing teams are joined at the hip these days and rightfully so. But what about inside sales and account management teams? If we think about client life cycle management, as it relates to sales, it's essentially a trifecta of marketing, sales and account management teams. The term "Smarketing" has gained a lot of traction these days, but it is unfortunately ignoring the account management side of the business. It's time we include the third variable in our equation of client success....account management.

In a lot of companies the relationship between sales and account management is very Hatfield vs. McCoy. It's a very he said she said type of affair. Account Managers think the sales folks are only concerned with making the sale and are not focused on the long-term success of the client. Sales folks believe they are selling to their strengths and at the same time not trying to expose their warts. It's their job to sell the relationship and account management's job to maintain the relationship. This type of mindset is counter-intuitive to running a successful business.

Without superior account management, sales would not get any of their great client referral leads. Without sales, account management wouldn't exist. We need each other, so let's take a giant step at getting on the same team. Here are 6 ideas I have for getting the two teams working as one.

1. Build a client life cycle management doc that lives in your CRM of choice. The document begins with sales and fully describes all of the needs, goals and aspirations of the client. It should include all of the people involved in the decision making process. Once the sale is made it should transition to the account management team. Ideally it is version controlled, so that you can see the changes made by each side.

2. Agree on a cancellation policy up front. For example, if a new client wants to cancel within the first 30 days, which team is going to take the hit? Should the account manager be held to the renewal target of an account that they realistically never had a chance to renew?

3. Agree on a upgrade policy. For example if a client wants to add more products or services within the first 30 days, which team is going to get the credit? If sales is going to be held to cancels within the first 30 days, shouldn't they also be rewarded for upgrades within the first 30 days?

4. Have bi-weekly meetings between the two teams to talk about what is working and what needs to be improved upon.

5. Agree on a escalation policy. For example, if a client is very upset and saying they were mis-sold during the sales cycle, who does the account manager turn to? Do they go straight to the sales rep who sold the deal, their direct boss, or to the boss of the individual sales rep?

6. Have joint team outings.

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Friday, January 1, 2010

The Biggest Myth of Inside Sales

If I pay my inside sales team more money they will be more motivated. Wrong! The only thing that motivates sales people is making more money. Wrong again! This old school train of thought has left the station. Enter the new school train of intrinsic motivation. Chooooooooo...choooooo.....all aboard.

I have written a lot about how much the workforce has changed and how important it is for us leaders to change with it. We must run our organizations differently if we want to compete for the best and the brightest employees. One major area of change is motivation. I have met and spoke with lots of frustrated leaders, who are having a hard time motivating their inside sales teams. I would often tell them that you need to find out what motivates them as individuals, not as a team. The reason for their frustration was because they were focusing on extrinsic motivators and not intrinsic motivators.

There is a difference between what people say motivates them and what actually motivates them to produce better results. In fact, if you asked your sales team what motivates them, they will most likely say money. The more money I can make, the more motivated I will be. This math does not add up. If it did, then all of your sales team would be at 120% of their sales quota because all comp plans have huge multipliers over 100% quota attainment.

So if it's not a juicier carrot, then what could it possibly be? A bigger stick? What motivates my team to produce better results? If your a fan of science and like to make decisions based off of facts then listen to Dan Pink. Dan Pink does a great job talking about the science of motivation.

The intrinsic value of an employee is the combination of their tangible and intangible factors. Just because one of your reps is at 120% of plan doesn't mean they are happy and just because one of your reps is at 50% of plan doesn't mean they should be fired. Both employees need help. Find out what intrinsic motivators make each of them tic and you will have earned your salary as a leader. Yes this means you may have to use a little more of your right brain (the creative side), but that's the trend.

So congratulations to all those "right brain" thinkers out there. You are the soup de jour. Or maybe it's more appropriate to say the soup de le vingt et unieme siecle. That's broken Google search French for soup of the 21st century.

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