A sales manager’s job, like many today, is a job with many hats. Managing a sales department means you’ll be creating and reviewing your sales people’s goals and objectives; you’ll be thinking about new and different ways to improves sales; you’ll be creating reports so the executive team can see what your department is doing; and of course you’ll be talking and listening to your people and your customers.
In my experience as a sales manager, my best days were always the days I got to speak with customers. But those days came few and far between. Usually, my day was like a pin-ball machine game, where I was the pin-ball. I’d bounce from crisis to crisis while trying to implement the latest management team initiative designed to grow sales while putting out some customer related fire. Too often the critical sales element of communicating clearly with your sales team was put off until tomorrow.
Communicating with your sales team may seem like a redundant or obvious item on the sales manager’s daily to-do list, but to me it is one critical element of success. Sales, when you get right down to basics, is all about communication. Every day your sales people are knocking on doors, picking up the phone, or sending emails that communicate things. Those communications had better be the things the company wants to communicate, or your business plan is sunk.
Taken a step further, communication about your product and services is going to happen among your customers – for better or worse. Word-of-mouth marketing is the most powerful marketing there is. Believe me. Social media marketing is just word-of-mouth through a million megaphones. Sales managers need to make sure they communicate effectively. Business mapping can help.
Communicating Through Maps
A sales manager should always look for tools that enhance communication with her sales group. These tools can include daily meetings, efficient emails, setting clear goals and objectives, and regular updates on how the team is performing compared to goal. Business mapping software is one such effective communication tool.
And remember, Communication Avenue is a two-way street. Sales managers must listen more than they talk. The listening part of communication should be where you spend most of your time. Sales managers who do not listen are destined to be ex-sales managers. I know a lot of ex-sales managers.
One reason to use business mapping tools as a communication tool is because maps can communicate quickly and efficiently. Tools that enable quick and efficient communication of basic sales facts open up the sales manager’s time for more listening. I mean, do you really want to spend 20% of your data reminding your people what their market area of responsibility is?
A Shared Business Map
Picture a sales meeting, either in a conference room or online with all users sharing a screen. The sales manager opens the meeting by sharing a sales territory map showing sales results for the month. All sales territories are displayed in shaded colors against a map of your company’s coverage areas. Monthly sales vs. sales goals are noted and each sales person is asked to speak to their results for three minutes. The sales manager listens, as does the rest of the team.
While the meeting continues, and the sales team absorbs their peer’s experiences, the map communicates critical elements for the sales group:
- Clearly defined areas of account responsibility – usually by zip code, county or Census tract. Remember – clearly defined sales territories drive accountability
- Areas of sales overlap. Smart companies acknowledge where their overlap exists. Unchallenged sales overlap can be an efficiency and motivation killer
- Customer visualization or sales activity by year or quarter with respect to sales goals, or compared to last year. Sales goals lead to sales results
- Demographic map data related to market size which could unveil areas for potential growth
- Top three products sold by account – map labels can highlight a variety of key criteria
- Competitor store or branch locations to remind sales people of business realities
- Imported layers of prospective customers, color coded by sales potential
- Sales planning and optimized routing to maximize sales calls while controlling expenses
A good sales manager will transform the account and product discussions into educational communication opportunities for their sales team. These meetings should become the core communication source for sales direction, progress reporting, and customer feedback loops. Because maps communicate basic facts instantly, these meetings communicate more information in less time. With an advanced business mapping software sales maps can be shared for everyday reference by sales people in the field, home office or call center.
Just remember, maps are for communicating. As Julius Caesar once said, “I wish I had advanced business mapping right now, damn it!” Well, we’re pretty sure he said that. He was a forward thinking communicator.
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Contact: Geoffrey Ives firstname.lastname@example.org (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866