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Tim Prunyi is a founding partner at Outspective. He currently heads the sales team and provides support for Social Media and Email Marketing. His clients include Vegas PBS and many small, local businesses. He served in the U.S. Navy, where he was trained as a journalist and photographer. He is an avid rock climber and yoga practitioner.
Thanks Steve! You've hit a really interesting point when you said:
"Sales managers need to evolve from lion tamers into engineers, with resources, strategies and processes which can be continuously improved."
I wear a sales manager hat at the marketing and brand management firm Outspective and I'm putting a lot of what I've learned in Engineering School to use. Our clients require custom solutions. This requires us to go through the same design process when creating a website or logo that was once only thought to be relevant for roads and bridges. In fact, the individual salespeople can become engineers in their own right.
The sales team is an integral part of this design process. Our salespeople actually help clients to shape their vision so we can bring a more concrete plan to the creative team. One advantage of this approach is that when our clients come to us for "a website" or "a logo" we allow them to become part of the design process. This makes them feel like part of our team.
The idea of rushing for a close before a competitor comes to them with a better price has been replaced with the notion of building something unique together that there is no competition for. The preliminary design is created by a team consisting of the salesperson and the client. Of course, this requires that our salespeople know a lot about our services and our capabilities. It is a sales manager’s responsibility to make sure that salespeople are educated enough to educate our clients.
Empowering salespeople to be creative in the design process empowers clients and brings them on board without the need for high pressure tactics. This is like when you go to a sub shop and the person behind the counter starts asking what kind of bread and toppings you want as they build the sandwich. There is little doubt that when you reach the register, you will be paying for that sandwich you ‘ve just created for yourself.
A sales manager's role has always been to encourage and support the sales team. This has traditionally been done with tactics like inspirational speeches, tweaking numbers to allow discounts and coming in personally to close large accounts.
While supporting and encouraging the sales team will always be the role of a sales manager, there are new forms of support for a company engaged in digital marketing.
I see lack of engagement as a major problem with some of the bigger institutional clients that I work with. I've been told by executives that they want to create a conversation without engaging in it. I wonder if you think that is useful or even possible.
I see this all the time. Especially from small businesses. They create a page and then don't follow up. Since Social Media is all about relationships, this is like that friend who never calls you back, eventually you stop calling them. Almost as bad is when the Social Media content is not consistent with overall brand strategy. My friend Brittany Botti wrote a piece called Why an intern running your social media is a bad idea that speaks to this second problem as well, that I'd love to hear your point of view on this issue as well.
Steve, I like the idea of combining new media with old, especially for following up with clients and leads. One way I've combined old and new media was to provide a live twitter feed for my client, a local television station, during a televised town hall. Typically a television broadcast is a one-way, one-to-many form of communication, but when combined with a live twitter feed, it became a conversation.