Now that we've defined sales management, let's look at the common sales management strategies you might implement on one of your sales teams to help reps grow, feel motivated, supported, and driven, and most importantly, close more deals.
Sales Management Strategies
- Establish compensation expectations
- Set goals and quotas
- Onboard and train new hires
- Motivate reps
- Act as liaison between reps and higher-ups
- Create sales and revenue reports
- Evaluate and adapt the sales process
1. Establish Compensation Expectations
Creating compensation plans that include details about base salary and commission is important to set accurate expectations for your reps. (You may or may not find yourself working with higher-ups and/or HR on this.) Setting these expectations and plans for all team members are critical parts to maintaining strong relationships with both existing and new customers.
Why would this be?
If reps start work at your company and learn they don't make a commission on house accounts, there's a large chance they're going to focus their time and energy on new customers instead since this is how'd they'd make a greater profit. This could cause you to lose existing, valuable customers.
Consider factors like these, along with your business's resources and plans for company-wide growth, while developing your reps' compensation plans.
2. Set Goals and Quotas
Set goals and quotas for your entire team, as well as for individual reps, so you can ensure everyone is working together and pulling their own weight.
You can set a variety of types of sales goals for a number of different things including activities, job functions, training, and anything else you see fit. Be sure to clearly communicate these goals and quotas across the team (and to both your higher-ups and other teams, like marketing and support, at the company if necessary). This way, everyone knows what's expected of them and they understand what they're working towards. You can do this during team or one-on-one meetings or add the information to the reps' sales enablement kits.
3. Onboard and Train New Hires
Onboarding and training new hires is another sales management responsibilities. Depending on your resources, you may or may not be the sole person responsible for onboarding and training new hires, but being a part of these processes is important no matter how your business goes about them.
By being a part of onboarding and training, you can make sure all reps start on an even playing field in terms of the information they have about your current processes and systems. You can provide reps with the information they need regarding your customers and products to begin closing deals.
This also includes training on the technology your team uses to chat with customers and work on deals — like a Sales Hub with various features that help reps move prospects from an early-stage lead to become a delighted customer. With this knowledge, reps will be prepared for the types of conversations they'll have with customers, learn about your buyer personas, and study the product features they're expected to know inside and out.
4. Motivate Reps
As a sales manager, you're a motivator for your reps. Whether they have a rough call with a customer, are unable to reach their quota the first month they're at the company, or are going through something personal, you need to be there for your reps. Ask your reps what motivates them so you can tailor certain interactions to their preferences. You can also host one-on-one and team meetings, as well as team-building events or outings, to ensure everyone is feeling supported and motivated to succeed.
5. Act as Liaison Between Reps and Higher-Ups
The position of sales manager lies between reps and higher-ups (such as directors, executives, or even, senior managers, if your company has them). Your role requires you to act as the liaison between these two groups of people and advocate for your reps' if and when necessary. This might involve discussing raises or promotions for your reps with higher-ups and HR, or simply sharing details about their successes across the organization.
Here are some more examples of the information you may relay between the reps and higher-ups.
Information From Reps to Higher-Ups
- Details on how to improve the product line based on information from customers
- Any overall marketing, support, or brand feedback from customers
- Positive testimonials from delighted customers that are worth sharing with the organization
Information From Higher-Ups to Reps
- Company-wide long and short term goals regarding growth
- New products and services being developed
- Any information about investors, revenue, etc. directors and executives decide they want to share with employees
Create and analyze various sales and revenue reports. As a sales manager, it's your job to compile and analyze data to review the success of your reps both individually and as a whole. These reports are not only for your eyes, but they should also be reviewed with your reps so they know how they're doing and whether or not they're on track to meet (or, hopefully, exceed) expectations.
These reports are also crucial to provide your higher-ups so the rest of the organization knows how well you're doing and can provide feedback on what they need from you and your team to continue growing the business.
When creating your sales and revenue reports, you'll be able to determine the following (and more):
- How much revenue is coming through as a result of the work of your reps
- How productive your reps are in terms of closing deals and communicating with prospects
- Which products/services are sold most frequently and successfully
- How often leads are transferred to your reps (and how often they're then contacted by those reps)
- Which of your assets are used most frequently as the first conversion point for contacts who end up becoming customers
7. Evaluate and Adapt the Sales Process
A sales process is the method by which your reps help move early-stage leads to become loyal, delighted customers. Strong sales teams almost always have a sales process, or framework, in place for reps to follow and move their prospects towards closing. This ensures consistency for all prospects, no matter which rep they're working with, and professional encounters among reps and prospects that represent your brand accurately.
However, it's important to remember the sales process will likely need to be updated as your company grows and changes. Whether it's because you have new products, a larger team of reps, or different buyer personas, you'll have to make sure your sales process is up to date and relevant. This way, it remains a helpful and powerful tool for reps to refer to throughout their time on your team.
Now that we've reviewed common sales manager strategies to consider implementing, let's review your sales management responsibilities.
Sales Management Responsibilities
- Meeting and aligning
- Managing time
It's important to note that the responsibilities you have as a sales manager — along with the skills required of you — are vastly different than those you experienced as a rep. (Note: Virtually every sales manager worked as a rep at one point in time.) Sales management revolves around people management, leadership, and data analysis (whereas your work as a rep is likely revolved around more prospecting, communication, and time management).
Let's dive in.
This is arguably the most important part of your role. Help your reps maximize their performance by figuring out where they need to improve, ensuring they're prepared for any situation that may come their way, and teaching them new skills to make them more efficient.
You can accomplish all of this through one-on-one feedback sessions, role play, and introducing them to new technology and/ or mentors on the team that could simplify their everyday tasks.
Be on the lookout for potential new members of your team. After all, hitting your sales goals is hard enough when you have the headcount, let alone when you're short sales reps (and rep turnover is very common in the sales industry).
So, how do you combat this?
Consistent recruiting ensures you’ll always have a pipeline of strong candidates who'll be ready to dive in when it comes time to replace a salesperson or grow your team. Spend an hour every day browsing recruiting sites like LinkedIn for potential candidates. Reach out to the people you're very interested in and set up a phone call or meeting over coffee to learn more about their previous experience in the field.
Catch developing issues before they become larger problems, identify best practices and fresh strategies to share with the wider team, and learn valuable information about your reps’ current operations by shadowing them. Depending on your sales process, you might even be able to listen to their calls and/or join their meetings.
4. Meeting and Aligning
A sales department touches almost every other aspect of a business, so make sure your team is consistently in communication and alignment with other teams including marketing, product, customer support (and any other relevant departments).
This way, reps have relevant content to provide prospects, accurate details about product features, information about the support customers receive throughout onboarding and their time as a customer, and more. You should also regularly meet with your sales executives to share how your team is performing and to review the high-level company goals so you can share those with your reps and get them excited about where the company is headed.
As mentioned above, a major component of your job is reporting on and analyzing data. Not only should you look at the numbers across the team, but you should also dig into individual rep performance to ensure one member of the team isn't carrying the load — or bringing down averages drastically.
Examples of this type of data includes:
- How far you are to goal at any given point in time
- What your projected weekly, monthly, and quarterly performance looks like
- Any trends regarding the point in time deals tend to slip
- Variations in average win rate
You can obtain and manage all of this data (and more) with the help of Sales Hub software.
6. Managing Time
Often times, when managing a team of people, it can become all too easy to let your days become consumed with putting out fires. However, to be an effective sales manager, you must master time management.
Rely on email and office hours rather than chat platforms to communicate with reps, provide them with feedback, and answer their questions. As Sales Consultant Jeff Hoffman says, “Instant message tools enforce LIFO: Last In, First Out. In other words, the most recent message tends to get the first reply. It’s unproductive and unfair.”
Asking reps to book time on your calendar for requests or come by your desk during office hours guarantees they’ll only come to you with issues they can’t solve on their own. It teaches them to be more autonomous and saves you time — a win-win.
Additionally, although you might miss the glory days of closing deals, resist the urge to take over any of your reps’ opportunities. In the long run, you’re not doing them (or yourself) any favors. Remember the adage, “Give a man to fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”? That applies here. Jumping in robs your rep of the chance to learn and means you’ll have to do the same next time around.
Finally, prioritize all tasks. With so much going on, it’s easy to run around tackling the most visible or time-sensitive tasks. Yet, those aren't always the most important. At the beginning of each day, organize a to-do list by impact and urgency. The top items should be both impactful and urgent, the next should be impactful but not urgent, followed by urgent but not impactful, and lastly, neither urgent nor impactful.
Now that you have a better understanding of your sales management responsibilities, let's review some resources that will help you (and your reps) excel.
There are sales management resources to consider investing in and taking the time to review. These resources have the power to simplify your work (and the work of your reps), help you complete your tasks and responsibilities more efficiently, create a bigger impact on your team, and become a stronger leader.
Sales Management Software
Sales management software has many benefits. It saves you and your reps time, acts as an all-encompassing database (where reps can input their prospect and deal information for future reference), and has the potential to help you close more deals, faster.
There are many sales management software options out there today with various features, but let's take a look at HubSpot's Sales Hub as an example. The tools and benefits that result from using the Sales Hub include:
- Automate and personalize outreach
- Create and share email templates
- Automate logging for contact information, email opens, and clicks
- Get notified when leads open your emails
- Organize all of your reps' activities in one place
- Connect with prospects via live chat on your website
- Sync with your CRM to track your entire pipeline
Sales Management Books
Ever heard the saying "knowledge is power"? Well, it's no secret reading can provide that knowledge (and power). Here are four sales management books we recommend reading to help you improve your techniques.
1. Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions: A Tactical Playbook for Managers and Executives
This book will help you coach your reps into top performers more quickly than you thought possible. To help you achieve this, the book includes case studies, a one-month “Turnaround Strategy” for struggling reps, coaching scripts and templates, and pre-written questions.
2. The Accidental Sales Manager: How to Take Control and Lead Your Sales Team to Record Profits
When you became a sales manager, were you promoted from the front lines without much support to handle the transition? This common issue is known as the “sales management trap". This book will give you applicable tips to help you through this transition. It also helps you take off your selling shoes and instead, lead your reps to effectively sell on their own.
3. Cracking the Sales Management Code: The Secrets to Measuring and Managing Sales Performance
From the metrics and processes you should be tracking and optimizing to prioritizing competing sales goals, this book acts as a practical guide on the ways to manage a growing sales team . The comprehensive resource will help you improve your day-to-day and yearly results across the team.
4. Sales Management. Simplified.: The Straight Truth About Getting Exceptional Results from Your Sales Team
This book reveals the reasons why sales teams typically fall short of their goals and how sales management style and tactics are often to blame. With a combination of straightforward, tell-it-like-it-is advice and entertaining anecdotes, this read will help you avoid the common mistakes that can be detrimental to any sales team's success.
Begin Managing Your Sales Team
As you can see, the process of sales management isn't a simple one, but it's a critical role that can impact your business's bottom line. There are a lot of moving parts and intricacies, but with the right strategies and processes, you can effectively manage your reps, team goals, and all relationships (both internal and external).
So, begin thinking about the sales management strategies you'll implement on your team and the resources you'll incorporate to help you along the way.
Originally published Jul 9, 2019 11:31:00 AM, updated July 10 2019