Managing a sales team is difficult. Regardless of how many degrees, diplomas, or PhDs you may have, every salesperson is different, which makes every sales team different. And yet somehow, that is what makes managing a sales team so rewarding.
No matter how much research you do into this topic, the most common advice you will come across when researching “managing sales”, is to ensure a solid sales management process and honestly, this guide is no different (in that aspect). A robust sales management process is what it’s all about.
According to Pipedrive, sales management is the process of “Developing a sales force, coordinating sales operations and implementing sales techniques”.
A sales managers’ goal should be to use these strategies to meet (hopefully exceed) the businesses sales objectives. A successful sales manager wholly owns the creation and sustainability of an excellent sales team, which naturally includes the development of lasting customer relationships, reducing costs and reaching sales targets.
Ensuring your company has a rock-solid sales management structure will inevitably lead to the future scaling of your business. With proper planning, coordination and control, a sales team guarantees the quality of their sale, building lasting relationships and increasing recurring sales.
Not only will the creation and implementation of a proper sales management structure ensure your business is flourishing externally, by way of increased sales, returning customers, heightened referrals due to great sales service, and proper planning. But, these structures enable business owners to improve communication among team members.
As a sales manager, apart from all the other tasks you’re juggling, your function when it comes to your sales management structure will include:
• Setting targets for your salespeople
• Helping the team Identify quality leads
• Continually improving the efficiency of your sales process
• Monitoring sales team performance;
• And finally, the function that gets people’s eyes rolling, analysing and reporting.
You’ve got to be consistent, your sales team’s success depends on it. If you’re consistent, they’ll be consistent in closing deals faster and building better relationships with their clients, effectively improving sales altogether.
In any department, running your own team means complete dedication to the organisation. As a manager, you don’t only need to ensure your staff are doing their jobs, but that they are also representing the organisation in the best, most positive way possible. The difference between managing a sales team and managing any other internal team is that sales reps are constantly in contact with customers or potential customers, therefore they must be in tip-top shape, at all times.
Although managing any department is tough, managing a sales department has to be one of the most difficult jobs. Typically, a successful sales rep is great at selling, but the key is that they are great at selling your product, and that they are a great representative of your organisation.
As a Sales Manager, you’ve got a lot on your plate. Here, we’ll unpack your responsibilities in more detail. There are a few key responsibilities that the Growthonics sales managers take on, and we’re sure you’ll benefit from them too;
A sales team can only be as great as their fearless leader. For you to be a successful sales manager, you need to hire the right people, at the right time, and place them in the most suitable positions.
A sales manager has to almost be a Jack of all trades, and a master of all too. Your sales team is going to look to you for guidance, so you need to ensure that you equip them with the right weapons, tools, and armour to succeed.
You must arm your sales team with a vision and strategy. By setting a clear vision and strategy for your team (which aligns to the organisations’ overall vision and strategy) your sales team will have a clear understanding of where you, as their leader, want/need them to be.
You must equip them with a hardy sales process. By creating a robust sales process, you will be setting a guide for your sales team to follow, keeping them aligned and working towards a common goal. Although equipped with this comprehensive guide, they are still people and will always require a little nudge here or there to ensure the completion of daily sales activities, and to address issues where necessary. Sales management is as much about the people as it is about the sales.
Above all else, your sales team needs to keep abreast of the most current selling behaviours and strategies. They must be confident that they are using the most effective and relevant methods in the industry. How do they do this? Well, you as their fearless leader must ensure that you have budgeted for their constant training and development. This is a crucial step in ensuring the long-term success and retention of your sales team.
No, really, it is. Organisations often overlook culture when deadlines are looming and the relentless pressure to deliver is continually mounting. Although culture is an intangible asset, it is an organisations’ greatest one.
Culture drives buy-in, professional development and most importantly, team dynamics. As a sales manager, it is not only your duty to shape the definition of a healthy, productive and inclusive team culture, but to also sustain that culture. By recognising successes, measuring outcomes and (this one should go without saying) hiring accordingly.
Sales managers (all managers for that matter) should both recognise and celebrate their sales team’s successes, as individuals and as a team. By celebrating as a team, you’re removing the “every man for himself” taste that typically lingers in the mouths of team members who aren’t celebrated as often as others. A win for one should be a win for all.
Measurement of outcomes should be more than a “gut feeling”. Outcomes should be measured according to more than just turnover or “win rates”. Rather, use resources like surveys, monthly stand-ups, and key sales metrics to truly get a grasp on the tone of your sales team. Over time, you can use this data to measure trends within your sales team and gain a greater understanding of the individuals that make up your team.
As previously mentioned, a successful sales manager must hire the right people, at the right time, and place them in the most suitable positions. When searching for sales individuals to fill sales positions, there are many factors to consider. An individual may have a resume that completely blows you away, and an academic history full of top universities. Candidates may say all the right things and have the right answers to every question you ask, but none of these indicate a great cultural fit.
According to Inc. there are three ways to know if a new hire will fit in with your company, and team culture (and we agree with each one)
And for the purposes of this blog, we’ll also include a significant aspect we look for in potential sales team members
If your candidates have these three (or four) key characteristics, they’ll probably fit in well with your sales team.
One of the most significant reasons to focus on cultivating an ironclad culture is that it makes the typically mundane, meaningful.
We work to earn a living. So, if your sales team’s remuneration guidelines aren’t established from the get-go, you’re setting yourself up for some real trouble.
For instance, if your sales team members find out that they don’t earn commission on already existing accounts, do you think they’ll try really hard to build up those client relationships? Do you think they’ll create sales tactics to sell them more products or services? Probably not. They would rather focus their time and energy on landing new customers, because that’s where they’ll make the most profit. As a sales manager, you know that your existing customers are your best customers, so find a way to incentivise selling to already established accounts.
Your existing customers are more likely to spend more of their money with a supplier they know and have a relationship with, rather than one they aren’t familiar with, and are more likely to refer you to others. Existing customers keep your retention rate up, and their value increases year-on-year.
By empowering your sales team with compensation expectations at the onset, you’ll be setting them up for success. Successful sales reps are far less likely to find work elsewhere. A great way to ensure your sales reps stick around is to create a sales compensation plan.
By adding a sales compensation plan to your sales team strategy, you’ll be creating structure. A good way to do this is to differentiate between junior, mid-level, and senior salespeople. In doing so, you will be communicating to your sales team that there is room for growth within the team, a goal for them to strive for. When individuals have goals and a clear career path, they are less likely to look for employment elsewhere.
The single most important factor to consider when developing a compensation plan is fairness. A respectable compensation plan should reward good performance and should correct poor performance. As strange as it may seem, great performers will become demotivated if they discover that poor performers are compensated at the same level.
Our sales management strategies are based on the tried and tested strategies of well known leaders in the industry. One example is the strategies from HubSpot, which is a great place to start.
We’ve included our spin on these below:
There are some key sales management strategies that we hone in on at Growthonics, particularly when it comes to the team that has a direct impact on the organisations bottom line.
Here’s how our Head of Client Sales, Leigh Street, takes sales management strategies and turns them into reality:
Our sales managers truly get to know their staff, they aren’t seen as just a number but as an integral part of the team. Sales managers spend time getting to know sales reps, which creates a strong rapport within the team and ensures our salespeople feel seen and appreciated.
This is one of the few ways we motivate, encourage, and bring out the best in our sales team members.
These schemes are how we reward our staff for their successes, efforts and work ethic. We have something we like to call the “Wall of Fame”. Each month, individuals are nominated for best performance in differing categories.
As mentioned above, when people are recognised for their efforts, healthy competition is created and people are motivated to do better.
We have numerous incentive schemes which work wonders for our sales reps and bring a bit of fun to the office each day. The healthy competitive spirit is something we look for in all new sales reps.
Growthonics and our managers have worked hard to create a culture of equality and inclusivity, particularly within our sales teams. No individual is better than their peers. Each person supports the other and there is a constant underlying tone of support. Each team knows that it takes the whole team to make the organisation a success.
Here’s where our Head of Client Sales has truly thought outside the box. This strategy works so well that we have newly hired reps booking meetings for our clients within just three weeks of being hired.
Our Team Leaders have been trained to ask the right questions and have the ability to ascertain whether a candidate has the right experience and will be a good fit for the sales team, their dynamics, and the organisational culture.
Our Team Leaders train the new sales reps. During the first week on the job, a new sales rep will spend each day with a different Team Leader. Team Leaders are given weekly slots for “new sales rep training”, this way each new sales rep gets to meet and bond with every Team Lead during their onboarding. Providing the new sales reps with multiple “familiar faces” and individuals to turn to for advice or assistance when needed.
New sales reps spend a second week shadowing their peers and assisting practically in order to gain a full understanding of their new role and the sales process.
Once the two-week onboarding process is complete, the new sales reps are given a workflow training guide complete with video tutorials of the various software tools they will be using.
These are only a few of the sales management strategies we use to create a successful sales team, and they truly work in practice.
You can clearly see that sales management is not a walk in the proverbial park, but it is an absolutely crucial role that has a direct impact on an organisations’ bottom line.
There are clearly a lot of intricacies and nuances to sales management and although it may seem daunting right now, just know that with the right strategies, processes, people and culture, you can successfully manage your sales reps.
The takeaways you should remember and arm yourself with are a sales team that has been onboarded and trained to perfection, a team culture that is unique and true, and remuneration guidelines that have no blurred lines. And don’t forget reports…They may be tedious, but they’re so important and there are always innovative tools out there to help you get through your reporting.
So go out there, and implement the sales management strategies that’ll work for you!
Learn more about our Outbound Sales Development services by booking a call with Growthonics today.