What unique challenges do sales managers face in the business-to-business space?

Doing “more with less” has become a mantra in many organizations still reeling from the recession. But for today’s sales managers, the more may be too much (rapidly changing technology, unlimited access to leads, new ROI methodologies); the less too little (reduced staff, budgets and time to get back into the game). That means the candidates for these highly competitive positions need to show that they’ve mastered a hybrid approach by balancing all the new, successful and complex tools with solid sales principles.

Successful b-to-b sales managers need to drive key metrics, like sales ROI, through each step of the sales process. Prospecting, qualifying, the pitch and retention are important, but so are opportunity management, pipelines and forecasting. Sales managers should be able to use their analytical skills in these areas to bolster productivity and sales. A comprehensive understanding of the issues faced by customers and the ability to craft a solution that sells them are also key factors.

Candidates should also be able to demonstrate they can effectively manage a variety of sources of data available to their sales teams. Today’s multi-modal system of lead generation requires a professional who can wade through mountains of records and analyze the effectiveness of each source. Employers are looking for individuals who can actually translate the analysis into a successful strategy that meets company benchmarks.

Today’s sales manager also needs to understand how technology and sales intelligence can be applied to improve sales ROI by reducing sales cycles and increasing average deal size. While there’s plenty of information available, there’s not a lot of actionable intelligence, so managers need to know the best sources and how to use them.

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