By Larry Kettler, executive vice president, Sales and Marketing, MIR3, Inc.
A great salesperson is someone you’d love to spend time with at a cocktail party, someone who is engaging, enthusiastic, persistent, fearless, focused,and motivated. But managing a team of these energetic, independent individuals can be an entirely different story.
As a sales manager, you have a tough job. Often promoted from within, you may not have received the proper mentoring to smoothly transition from being one of the team to becoming the manager of all. Sales managers need to know when to lead, when to coach, when to cheer,and when to exert pressure—and these days, you have to do all the above with fewer resources than in the past. While you are reining in this feisty bunch, you must also try to appease the executive staff, keep abreast of the latest tools and technologies, and most importantly, find ways to help the team spend more time selling and less time on administrative tasks.
What would happen if you applied technologythat’s typically used to notify external audiences of important updates as an internal efficiency tool? That’s exactly what some managers are doing, using notification technology—intended to deliver important messages to large groups of dispersed individuals—to keep their teams informed and motivated.
Typically,sales managers communicate with their teams by e-mail, sending out weekly or daily communication and crossing their fingers that everyone will read their messages and respond accordingly. The trouble is, if your sales representatives are on the road, as is often the case, you’re not sure when they will get your message. And let’s face it—many who do get your message will just file it, figuring that if there’s anything they really need to know,they’ll eventually find out through the grapevine. Most never reply, even if a reply is requested, leaving you to wonder whether they ever got your message. In any case, it’s up you to track and log responses, following up with those who don’t respond to findout if they got your important message and if they understood it.
Here’s how notification can make that whole process more streamlined. Let’s say there’s a pricing change,and you need to alert the entire team. The new pricing starts soon, and you have a few people on your team who are notorious for not reacting to changes like this until after several reminders. With a notification system in place, you simply launch your message,and the system does the rest. Everyone gets the notification at the same time, and a response is requested of each recipient. All responses are logged, and with no more effort on your part, you have instant accountability. If some people lag, the system will remind them,so you won’t have to. If a person claims he or shenever got the message,you have your logs to draw on, adding yet another layer of accountability.
Suppose you’re called into an executive meeting later today and you have to quickly rustle up your team’s latest commit numbers. In seconds you can launch a notification to everyone on the teamrequesting the numbers. The system will automatically log responses as they come in, making it easy for you to summarize all in time for your meeting. Imagine that the company announces an acquisition that will have an immediate impact on sales. You can instantly deliver a notification that there will be a conference call in 30 minutes,and your entire team can join the call by simply pressing a number on their phone keypad. In the case of large projects with many stakeholders,you can find out who will attend which training session, or how your team is progressing with the complicated list of deliverables. When contests are held or numbers are announced, individuals can be notified wherever they are, with everyone getting the information at the same time.
Your sales team can use notification to communicate with customers or resellers, as well. Rather than picking up the phone to announce special promotions or price changes, impactful news or impending deadlines, notifications can be sent and a follow-up call can be made after the recipient has had time to process the information.
You get the picture. Notification systems can be a successful sales manager’s secret weapon to doing more with less, keeping a team in order and in tight communication. It can free up your time and that of your team to focus on what really matters—closing the deal.
Throughout his 25-year career, Larry Kettler has held executive management and sales roles in software, consumer electronics, Internet technology, and telephony companies. As executive vice president, Sales and Marketing, at MIR3, Kettler oversees worldwide sales including direct and channel, as well as worldwide marketing. For more information, visit www.mir3.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.