All businesses need salespeople working for them who understand how to sell. But successful companies aren’t solely built on the back of talented sales reps — they also rely on competent sales managers too.
Sales management is the act of organizing a team of sales reps in a way that helps them create better bonds with customers and close more deals. Therefore, the job of the sales manager is to implement specific strategies that help the team attain or exceed the sales goals of the company.
Sales management strategies and tips
In theory, this all makes a lot of sense, but what does it mean in practice? What are these strategies that sales managers can implement to help their teams make more sales? If you find yourself asking these questions, take a minute to read through these sales manager tips.
Sales management strategy #1: set goals
Managing a sales team can be challenging. On occasion, individual self-interest can trump the thing that would benefit the group as a whole. It’s your job as a sales manager to put strategies in place that prevent this from happening.
One way to do it is to set a variety of goals — both at the individual and team level. You don’t necessarily have to set sales targets at an individual level if you don’t think that would be appropriate.
That said, you do have to create an incentive structure. Not only does this help your goals to generate revenue for the entire company, but it also motivates employees and boosts morale. Be sure that you communicate any goals with sales team members as individuals and as a whole. If appropriate, also discuss your incentive structure with senior management.
Sales management strategy #2: create commission structures that benefit the business
Incentives dominate the activities of your sales reps. Give them the right incentives, and they’ll work hard in the best interest of the company. Give them the wrong motives, and you can wind up with a problem on your hands.
For instance, many managers give commission to agents who attract new customers but don’t provide anything for those who make sales on existing accounts. Under these incentives, sales reps do everything they can to attract new customers but neglect those you already have.
Sales management strategy #3: give new hires a great onboarding experience
New people will join your sales team all the time. It’s vital that you onboard them in a way that is fair and communicates the company values. Onboarding should include information on how to use your systems and close deals with customers — this includes comprehensive training regarding legal processes, sales tools, and role parameters to ensure their maximum success.
Training new hires thoroughly and equipping them with all the necessary tools in order to close quickly empowers you to take things a step further. It is a good way of showing them that you care about their best interest and you want them to be prepared for their role in your company.
Sales management strategy #4: motivate reps
Making a sale isn’t always easy. Sales reps face considerable challenges, whether it’s days where they don’t make any sales at all or they endure frustrating conversations with demanding customers. The trick is to find out what motivates a particular sales rep and then use that as leverage to inspire and rally them behind the overarching sales goal.
Sales management strategy #5: modify the sales process
No sales process is perfect. Part of effective sales rep management is to root out problems in the sales process and then find solutions. One of the best ways of doing this is to go to members of your team and ask them where they feel there are friction points. You can also use reporting to test what works and what doesn’t, refining your sales funnels over time.
Sales management best practices
Now, let’s dive into the meat of it. Here’s how to be a good sales manager.
Recruit talented people
Rep turnover is high in the sales industry. Part of any sales management job is to find and hire new talented members of the team to replace those who move on.
But recruiting well can be tough! Sales managers can often find themselves short of staff with nobody ready and waiting to step in and fill the role.
Successful managers try to spend around an hour every day nurturing contacts with potential staff and creating leads, whether on LinkedIn, Indeed, or another platform. They try where possible to have a pipeline of people ready to join the team, should another member leave.
Catch issues — fast
Not all members of your sales team have the skills to perform the job correctly from day one. What makes a great sales manager is somebody who can shadow members of the team to catch issues before they become a problem. For instance, this process could include components like listening to salespeople’s calls or joining them for meetings with customers — and then talking with them post-meeting about what they felt went well or they could use help with.
Align with other departments
Your sales team doesn’t exist independent of other departments in the business. It’s vital that you “check-in” with other teams to ensure that they are on the right track and also promoting the company in a way that aligns with your goals. Priorities include things like ensuring that the sales team is acting in a way that is consistent with the brand, the company mission, and the financial priorities of the firm.
Conduct thorough reporting
Sales management is also about reporting — digging into the performance numbers to find areas that require improvement. Often you’ll find that you have a few star performers alongside a cluster of employees who are bringing the team average down. Your job is to find ways to incentivize those at the top to carry on doing what they’re doing, while finding out what’s going wrong with those at the bottom.
Sales managers also need to keep track of the progress that their team makes over time to ensure that they’re not backsliding. It’s critical to identify trends early on to ensure that standards don’t slip, and team members don’t miss sales opportunities.
Manage your time effectively
It’s all too easy for a sales manager to spend an entire day in the office putting out fires here, there, and everywhere — instead of performing their role. Where possible managers should avoid this.
The reason is that sales management is more than just reacting to problems on your team: it’s about putting strategies that will empower the team to succeed long-term.
While cloud-based messaging platforms are helpful for putting out immediate fires, they can also capsize your productivity. Be sure to utilize “away” functionalities whenever you can as to prevent folks from pinging you whenever there’s a fire. Not only does this empower your team to solve problems on their own, but it puts time back in your pocket. Additionally, block out time on your calendar as “busy” to help you get stuff done. Some managers set aside certain parts of the day where team members can talk to them. This system ensures that they only bring problems that they really can’t solve.
Sales management tools and resources
Fortunately, there are a lot of sales tools and resources out there for budding sales managers who want to master the art. Here are some examples:
Sales management software. This software helps to manage all of your reps’ activities all in one place, speak with clients via live chat, and sync with CRM. Top sales management solutions include Pipedrive (which integrates with software like Google Maps and MailChimp), Salesforce, and Zoho CRM, which lets you track analytics and smoothen out your sales process.
Personalized sales enablement content. A little bit of effort goes a long way, especially when it comes to sales enablement content. With brand templating platforms like Lucidpress, your sales team is able to quickly and easily make sales collateral — without compromising brand integrity.
Sales Management Simplified by Mike Weinberg. This book teaches you how to avoid some of the common mistakes and pitfalls many sales managers make along the road to excellence.
Cracking the Sales Management Code by Jason Jordan. Jordan’s book is a practical guide on sales management, from the metrics you should track to how to enlarge and manage a bigger sales team. A must-read for anyone who leads a team of reps.
A good sales management strategy isn’t just crucial for the sales department, but also for the entire company. Strong sales build revenue, which, in turn, helps the company achieve its long term objectives.