offthechartGuest blogger Donal Daly explains how sales managers can become sales leaders.

Want to hire and retain people who are “off the charts” brilliant? Then your sales force needs the right tools for success. You need a system that management can use to coach behaviors, not criticize outcomes. Just as importantly, you need sales leaders, not just sales managers.

When I considered who would be most qualified to discuss the link between technology and sales-management best practices, the answer was clear: Donal Daly, CEO of The TAS Group.  A critical thinker who challenges conventional beliefs, Donal is as pragmatic as he is creative. He understands sales and has helped to create systems that sales managers and their reps actually use.

Donal was the first person I interviewed for my new book, Pick Up the Damn Phone!: How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal. His insights on how the right technology can help sales managers become sales leaders is both insightful and practical.

Here’s what he has to say:

 “There is a Jackson Browne song called ‘These Days,’ which he wrote at the tender age of 16. One of the lines in the song: ‘Don’t confront me with my failures, I have not forgotten them.’ For a teenager, Browne was wise beyond his years. 

I heard this song recently, and it reminded me of a conversation I heard between a sales manager and one of his reps:

Manager: You lost the deal!

Salesperson: Yes, I know.

Manager: You’re behind quota!

Salesperson: Yes, I know.

Manager: I can’t believe you lost the deal!

Salesperson: Suspending belief doesn’t help.

Manager: You’re a failure!

Salesperson: I quit.

Not a lot of progress there. Unfortunately, some variation of this conversation happens too frequently in sales organizations, and for one main reason: There is no common understanding between the salesperson and the sales manager.

Get on the Same Page

According to research from The TAS Group, 40 percent of sales teams don’t have a sales playbook. And that seems insane. Companies that do have a well-defined, executable sales playbook are 33 percent more likely to be high performers and, in two-thirds of cases, can exceed a 50-percent win rate across the team.

We have seen this play out with customers who deploy Smart Sales Playbooks. No longer is the sales manager trying to predict the future based solely on lagging indicators, gut-feelings, and subjective sales forecasts. In this evolved world, the sales manager can look inside each rep’s pipeline and understand the true pipeline velocity, not just the number or size of deals, while getting smart insights into the health of each deal.

Give Them the Right Tools

But wait! Wouldn’t it be better if sales reps could do that for themselves? Imagine if tools existed that enabled salespeople to self-manage within a system that provided true benefit for them and transcended the ‘I’ve got to enter this data for management’ paradigm. Then you would see uncommon productivity.

This would be the end of weekly sales calls as we know them. No more asking, ‘Can you tell me what you did this week on the ACME opportunity?’ No more confronting salespeople with their failures. Instead, sales managers and their reps could have productive conversations that go more like this: ‘I can see we’re running into a possible problem with that deal. Here’s how I think I might be able to help, based on what I’ve seen work in other deals.’

That’s when a sales manager becomes a sales leader.

Change the Conversation

While there is no technological prosthetic for broken relationships between sales managers and their teams, the latter scenario is absolutely possible today, and is being deployed in many of the world’s leading sales organizations. Tools exist to intelligently analyze deals, evaluate pipeline velocity, examine sales-process progress, and automatically predict deal-close probability and sales cycle—all without onerous data entry or unreasonable additional work.

Admittedly, I’m totally biased on this topic. The TAS Group provides smart sales-performance solutions. In fact, we have recently been called ‘the inventors of smart selling.’ But having led many different sales teams, I can tell you from experience that few things are more de-motivating for sales professionals than being confronted with their failures, particularly when no assistance or advice has been offered.

Sales velocity is fueled by confidence, and anything that undermines that confidence is destructive. The tools, methodologies, and systems are available today to increase that velocity, and unless you consider how to apply them in your business, you will lag behind.”

Donal_Daly_standingAbout the Author

Donal is CEO and founder of The TAS Group, which is his fifth global business enterprise.  Combining his expertise in enterprise software applications, artificial intelligence, and sales methodology, he continues to revolutionize the sales effectiveness industry. Donal was also CEO and founder of Software Development Tools, NewWorld Commerce, The Customer Respect Group, and Select Strategies—all of which were acquired by various parties. Donal is the author of four books, including his recent No. 1 Amazon Bestseller, Account Planning in Salesforce, and the best-selling Select Selling Sales Fieldbook.

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Which tools have you provided to your sales team that enable you to better manage your relationships with them, and enable them to sell more effectively?