Frontline managers have some of the most difficult jobs in sales.
You manage anywhere from four to eight sales reps on a day-to-day basis, helping them win deals and grow their careers. Meanwhile, you’re handling exceptions, monitoring the pipeline, reporting sales forecasts up to executives, and bringing new initiatives back to the team.
Exceptional frontline managers do all of that and more, all while hitting their numbers. But we know from experience that it’s not easy.
To help sales management get ahead, we talked with customers and our own frontline leaders about their challenges. Then, we brainstormed some tactics you can use to:
- coach your sales reps;
- get better, more accurate information in front of executives; and
- stop deals from slipping.
We compiled these takeaways to help you grow your dream sales team and hit your numbers — all in a day's work!
Know When Sales Reps Need Your Guidance the Most
Do you know when your sales reps aren’t doing what they should? Managers say they know when they coach their reps, but the numbers paint a different picture.
In fact, the average manager reviews only 13% of late-stage calls within 13 days to gauge their reps’ performance and provide feedback, according to Chorus.ai’s 2020 State of Conversation Intelligence report. That’s just not enough.
Often, the recordings and information you need to gauge your reps’ performance are buried in Salesforce. It can be more difficult and time-consuming for sales management to sort through all of that information to know what to coach to than to do the actual coaching.
Instead of wading through Salesforce, use automated Slack notifications to alert you during the moments in your reps’ workflows that need the most attention.
Say you’re noticing less-than-ideal conversion rates early on in the sales pipeline. You can create an alert that notifies you when a discovery call is scheduled so that you can help your rep prepare. Likewise, you can receive a postcall notification to debrief and review the rep’s performance.
You can also create sales channels in Slack dedicated to coaching your team’s problem areas or critical points in the pipeline. If your team runs on MEDDPICC, consider creating channels dedicated to crucial steps in that sales process, like a Slack channel for Metrics.
For example, you could reinforce your sales process by monitoring exit criteria in stage-specific Slack channels. Rather than digging into Salesforce every time a sales rep moves a deal to a new stage, that information would be automatically surfaced in the appropriate Slack channel. This would make it quick and easy to make sure your reps are logging quality information and progressing deals properly.
Coach new processes with custom workflows
Another way you can help reinforce sales rep behavior is by creating custom workflows with Troops. These are particularly useful for coaching sales reps through a new sales initiative.
Let’s say you’re trying to determine how well your reps are selling a product they’ve never sold before. You can set up contextual alerts to remind and prep reps about the new product before sales calls. These alerts can also tell you when the call is over so you can gauge how well your reps handled their conversations and what prospects had to say about the new product.
What if your supervisors decide to roll out a new sales methodology? You can create alerts that directly ask sales reps to fill in new Salesforce fields from Slack and that notify you so you can inspect the quality of their inputs. This helps reinforce the methodology and give you a better shot at making it stick — and work.
Forecast More Accurately from Better Info in the CRM
Accurate sales forecasting depends on the quality of the information your sales reps get in Salesforce. But what if you can’t trust what your sales reps are logging in Salesforce (or what if they aren’t logging the right kind of information at all)?
Sales reps (and managers) tend to only look at basic information instead of going deeper to understand the story of their deals. This deeper-level intel comes from documenting sales process fields like [MEDDICC](link to MEDDIC vs MEDDPIC vs MEDDPICC: Does It Really Matter?).
Sales process information needs to go beyond close dates and amounts to unearth the prospect’s pain, the deal’s champion, the decision-making process, and the challenges that stand in the way of closing. Instead of relying on the close date your rep threw in at the end of the month, you can get a more accurate reading of where a deal really stands.
The key is to prompt your reps to get the right sales process insights during conversations and to make it as easy as possible for them to log that quality information in the CRM. To get there, get your reps thinking about what they need to learn before going into sales calls. Then, give them the ability to update deal information easily, without having to log into Salesforce every time.
To accomplish that, create contextual reminders that go out to sales reps in Slack at key moments during the day. For example, you can send an alert before a meeting begins that reminds sales reps about crucial information they need to learn at that meeting. That helps ensure the meeting’s objectives are clear and fresh in your reps’ minds as they enter the conversation.
Troops takes this tactic a step further with contextual sales process alerts. These Slack notifications prompt sales reps to quickly fill out sales process fields (for example, objections, economic buyer, pain, champion, competitors, etc.).
This information prompts sales reps to think deeply about the health of their opportunities and what challenges stand in the way of closing. It also gives sales management much-needed context behind forecast categories, close dates, amounts, and other information you need for sales forecasting.
Want to learn more? We talk in depth about improving your sales forecasting in Sales Forecasting in the Clouds? How to Ground It in Reality with Sales Process.
Stop Deal Slippage by Focusing on Leading Indicators
Do you know when a deal is in danger of slipping through the cracks? By staying proactive with leading indicators, you can keep opportunities moving through your sales pipeline.
Leading indicators give you intel on how things are looking at the very top of your sales pipeline. How many first meetings are you setting and holding? How many of those meetings are converting? These metrics focus on your ability to open new opportunities.
Sales management can go deeper with leading indicators to know in real time when deals are losing momentum. For example, we use contextual alerts to notify the team when a deal is stuck in one stage for too long or doesn’t have clear next steps. Then, we can course correct or make changes in time to make an impact.
Leading indicators go beyond obvious roadblocks in the sales pipeline. They help you understand new challenges and opportunities that may impact your sales performance. For example:
- Are your prospects suddenly talking about a new competitor?
- Is an old rival launching a new product or improving an existing offering?
- Why do some opportunities move through the pipeline faster than others?
- Are we seeing interest in our product from a new vertical?
To figure out what leading indicators your team should keep track of, think about what information you need your sales reps to collect in their conversations. With Troops, you can remind reps to home in on leading indicators during sales calls right before the meetings begin.
Don’t Be a Nag: Contextual Sales Management Makes All the Difference
When the information you need isn’t in the CRM, you have to nag your sales reps. Not only is it a waste of time and energy for you and your reps, but it’s also not the best for morale and motivation.
That’s another reason we recommend using automated alerts to prompt sales reps when they overlook critical fields in Salesforce or neglect to stay on top of their pipelines. They take the burden off your shoulders and help your reps stay on their game. No one has to be the bad guy or gal.
To make automated alerts work, however, they need to be contextual. Instead of sending your reps a bunch of “You didn’t do this!” alerts at the end of every day, remind them to fill in missing information when it makes the most sense. This helps reps stay on top of their pipelines and keeps alerts feeling useful instead of punitive.