By Jim Dunham, SVP Product Management at ServiceSource 

Behind every high-performing renewal sales organisation, you’ll find a great manager. This shadowy, behind-the-scenes figure just might be the secret ingredient in recurring revenue performance.

Jim Dunham, SVP Product Management At Servicesource
Jim Dunham, SVP Product Management At Servicesource

The renewal manager is the person who hires, trains, supports and manages the renewal sales reps – and is indirectly responsible for a huge percentage of overall revenues. In some organisations, they may also directly manage “house accounts” for which they both manage and close renewal business

Renewal managers are the most difficult people to analyse when looking at people involved in recurring revenues, in technology sales. They are not easily found in the wild – they’re too busy to hang around the cafeteria chatting about their jobs. And often, you can only detect their performance indirectly in the data linked to those who work for them.

If you look at what major companies expect in this role, what emerges is a picture of someone with near super-human capabilities. If the renewal rep is the unsung hero of recurring revenue, then the renewal manager is a stealthy super-hero.

The ideal renewal manager has the following attributes:

Big shoulders (metaphorically, of course)

The renewal manager bears a heavy burden of responsibility. If a single renewal rep is responsible for an average 500 deals per quarter, and a particular manager supervises 10 renewal reps, that’s 5,000 deals per quarter. As businesses continue to transition to a subscription-based model, the role becomes ever more central to overall financial performance.

A keen strategic mind

This person is in the hot seat to bring in recurring revenue. They need to understand how the team is performing and come up with strategies for improving or maintaining renewal rates and revenues. They create and implement cross-sell and up-sell strategies to drive revenues. The sales and marketing teams look to this person for guidance on pricing and promotions. And they maintain a rolling 90-to-120-day projection of revenue, which requires an eye for the big picture.

Coaching skills

No one knows the business better than renewal managers. They jump in during a hard negotiation and either pull the deal across the finish line or coach the rep on how to do it effectively. Because renewal reps are often less experienced and likely to turn over, coaching is an important responsibility for managers.

A great eye for details

The only way to meet those big-picture projections, of course, is to have firm control over day-to-date details. The manager must oversee the workflows, renewals schedules and calendars of the renewal reps, and track the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Given the time-sensitive nature of renewals, they need to keep watch tirelessly.

Expert time management skills

The renewal manager is typically responsible for supervising anywhere between 5 and 15 renewal reps. Their responsibilities include hiring, training, coaching, and managing the day-to-day activities of the team. They also maintain and report on expected revenue projections, and work with sales and customer success teams. They spend a lot of time in meetings, and often have management responsibilities beyond renewal sales.

Personal charisma and leadership

While individual renewal reps might be tempted to cherry-pick the best deals, the manager’s overall performance depends on aggregate renewal performance, including the many smaller deals that may seem unimportant on an individual basis. The renewal manager needs to motivate the team to work all of the deals, even the small ones.

Sound like a tall order?

How do you find someone with all of these attributes? More to the point, how do you empower your existing managers to be renewal superheroes without burning them out?

You cannot give people core attributes like leadership or attention to detail. But you can remove many of the obstacles that prevent people from expressing their inner strengths. In the case of the renewal manager, you can give them visibility into renewal details and the big picture. Make it easy to launch and manage campaigns. Let them see, moment to moment and day-to-day, what the team is doing and how it’s affecting their numbers. And make it really easy to monitor the KPIs that keep everyone on track.

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