Your sales management strategy and tactics must be well-thought-out and carefully planned to maximize your team’s potential. To that end, let’s define what sales management is and what a sales manager’s role and responsibilities are. Additionally, let’s also discuss the sales management processes, systems, strategies, techniques, and resources.
In his masterwork, Chinese military leader and philosopher Tzun Tzu wrote, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
This pearl of wisdom applies to all areas of business, but it is a critical component of effective sales management. Your sales managers are leading your team on the front lines. They are attracting, selling, and closing new business through their sales representatives. They are your officers leading the charge, supporting their troops, and reinforcing their training.
Sales Management Definition
Sales management is a process of developing your sales force, coordinating sales ops, and putting sales techniques into practice. This helps the sales team hit and exceed sales targets. That definition, however, only scratches the surface of what sales management actually is in practical terms.
In practice, effective sales management is doing whatever is necessary to yield the maximum possible sales results from leads and opportunities brought about by the marketing team. Training, retraining, reinforcing sales techniques, mentoring, and personal and professional development all fall under the purview of an effective sales management team.
Sales managers aren’t just responsible for hitting numbers, they are your chosen few who have the training, skill, and experience to raise up others to their level. They praise and celebrate success, display patience, and reassurance with setbacks, and tirelessly encourage and inspire everyone who works with them. Their job description comes with many duties and responsibilities, and a core component of developing your sales management strategy is clearly defining what those duties are. Here’s a quick overview.
Sales Management Duties
The following list outlines the general duties of a sales management team or sales manager:
- Meeting and Alignment
- Time Management
Each of these duties is driven by three components: process, system, and sales management strategies. Let’s examine each of those in more detail.
Sales Management Process
While flowcharts may indicate otherwise, the sales management process is not always linear. Each stakeholder’s strategy and duties may manifest differently depending on the sales team, products and available resources. Typically, sales managers operate using a process that has four key components: people, strategy, activity and reporting. Here’s a brief overview of each of them
People – Hiring and Managing the Team
A truly exceptional sales team needs an exceptional leader as a sales manager. They must be an experienced and outstanding salesperson to lead a likewise outstanding team. Step one is hiring exceptionally talented salespeople.
Sales managers need to write clear and accurate job descriptions, conduct interviews and work with HR to create a fair compensation plan that befits the sales talent you decide to bring onboard. An excellent sales manager also knows how to manage and motivate their team effectively, and how to use coaching, team-building, and morale-boosting exercises for maximum effect given the makeup of their sales team.
Strategy – Development and Administration
Planning and developing a sales strategy is more than just examining tactics and techniques to find the right combination. Sales managers must conjure a vision for their team that drives the strategy. Having a clear vision for a sales strategy is what unites the team under one banner, so they can achieve victory.
Once the vision is established, management can clearly define a step-by-step process for the team to follow, so they can function as a cohesive unit. Moreover, when your strategy and process are clearly defined, it is far easier to identify any opportunities for improvement while the team carries out the plan.
Activity – Daily Operations
Keeping their eyes on the prize and their hand on the wheel is a daily priority for all sales managers. Every step of the process from prospecting to closing should be observed and recorded for accurate data. Additionally, wins need celebrating, losses need consolation and encouragement, and every sales manager must be the number one team advocate daily.
Reporting – Keeping Everyone on the Same Page
Parsing data and analyzing trends is a critical ongoing activity for any organization, and in sales, it is doubly so. There must be a clear system for reporting feedback to the team, so they understand where their metrics are for growth and achievement. Win rate, average sales cycle, and conversion rate are the food and drink of high-performing sales reps, and they need to know where they stand at all times.
Most importantly, an efficient and accurate reporting system also allows sales managers to keep upper management apprised of performance, and to forecast future revenue so that standards and targets can be closely aligned with company objectives.
Keep in mind that rarely does any sales manager develop a process on their own. Most evaluate various existing sales management systems and choose one that best fits their team and organization’s needs. Let’s discuss the non-negotiables that every sales management system must-have.
Sales Management System
This topic often goes by the name sales management software or sales CRM, but ultimately they are built for the same purpose: simplifying the sales process. Representatives use this system daily to manage contacts, track deals in the sales process, and eliminate tedious administrative tasks, so they can dedicate their focus to hitting numbers.
Current sales management systems are complex and sophisticated technology that can incorporate data from social profiles, online activity, network connections between members, and much more. Some even implement artificial intelligence technology to provide the sales team with predictions and lead recommendations using individual sales performance, so they can sell smarter and build better customer relationships. The key to choosing the right one is comparing features of the many systems available to ensure they will fit your team and process well.
After the appropriate system is in place, it’s time to talk strategy. Here’s a brief overview of how to develop strategies that best maximize your sales team’s potential.
Sales Management Strategies
The key components of an effective sales strategy are growth, motivation, support, drive, and increasing the closing rate. Here are the steps an effective sales manager must take to build the right sales strategy for their team:
1. Set the right sales compensation expectations
Creating compensation plans using base salaries and commission is what creates accurate expectations for the sales team. Fundamentally, this is why they are there: to get paid. If compensation isn’t outlined in clear, concise terms, getting the team on board will be an uphill climb.
Moreover, if the compensation plan isn’t clearly defined regarding in-house versus new sales, sales reps may direct their focus on new business rather than retention. The resultant churn can cost your customer base dearly, so smart sales managers take this into account when deciding how to compensate their sales team.
2. Establish target goals and quotas
It is difficult to do what is expected or exceeds expectations if expectations are not clearly defined from the start. There are many types of goals/quotas for any of the key metrics that drive sales, but the goals themselves are secondary to the importance of clear communication.
If leadership, marketing, and sales do not understand what is expected, then it will be difficult to make any headway. Furthermore, it is impossible to measure progress without established sales targets. Regarding where to set the bar, that will depend on existing performance, market analysis, and a slew of other data. Practical and realistic goals using data are always a smart choice.
3. New personnel integration
As new people join the sales team, there needs to be a process in place that helps them integrate with your sales management strategy. Using communication technology, the sales management software, and techniques for closing sales need explicit direct instruction so that all team members are on the same page from day one. It also helps establish expectations for new hires, so they can effectively contribute to growth.
4. Provide motivation
While the sales team works to get paid, that isn’t the sole requirement for success. Encouraging team members after a rough sales call, dealing with missed quotas, or even personal issues outside of work, an effective sales management strategy plans for making each member of the sales team feel heard, appreciated and supported.
To that end, sales managers should seek out what motivates each team member to develop methods for positive interactions. One-on-one and team meetings, morale booster events at the office or on outings are excellent ways to keep your team motivated to succeed.
5. Act as liaison between the sales team and leadership team
Sales managers facilitate communication between the sales team and all other teams within a company. Additionally, they communicate products/services performance, marketing effectiveness, customer support, and feedback to the leadership team down to the stakeholders.
Likewise, organization-wide goals, any other information leadership want shared with the team must move smoothly down the line. Sales managers must be the dependable link that connects everyone together and keeps everyone on the same page.
6. Generate sales and revenue reports
Collecting and interpreting sales and revenue data is the responsibility of sales leadership. The key to creating these reports effectively is emphasizing how the sales team’s performance is impacting the business. The primary focus should be on products/services that sell best. Additionally, revenue generated by the team, close rate, conversion rate, and asset usage should be considered.
7. Evaluation and adaptation of the sales process
After the numbers are in and reports are written, it’s time to sit down with the team and discuss performance. The team needs regular feedback so they can make meaningful changes and celebrate success. This is to establish consistency and help reps understand their role in sales growth and success.
Establishing a sales management strategy is where everything begins. The next step is finding the right sales management techniques to maintain the best possible performance.
Sales Management Techniques
Consulting experts is the best way for any sales manager to hone their technique and keep their team operating like a well-oiled machine. Here are a few of the best books on the subject
- Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions: A Tactical Playbook for Managers and Executives by Keith Rosen
- Sales Management. Simplified.: The Straight Truth About Getting Exceptional Results from Your Sales Team by Mike Weinberg
- The Accidental Sales Manager: How to Take Control and Lead Your Sales Team to Record Profits by Chris Lytle
- Cracking the Sales Management Code: The Secrets to Measuring and Managing Sales Performance by Jason Jordan
Sales Management Resources
In addition to reading up on how to sharpen their sales management skills, sales managers can also benefit greatly from the following digital resources:
HubSpot Sales Hub
This resource saves sales managers and their team precious time by automating most sales tasks. For example, personalized outreach, creating and sharing email templates, logging contacts, tracking rep activities, and connecting with prospects. Best of all, it can sync with most sales CRM systems to track every sale in your pipeline
Don’t have a CRM? Interested in HubSpot? Check out their sales CRM for an all-in-one solution.
More than just a VoIP, this cloud-based telecom system allows reps to reach and track conversations. Additionally, they seamlessly integrate with most sales CRM systems and Helpdesk solutions for customer support.
What We Learned from Sales Management
All in all, superior sales management relies on five elements. Firstly, clearly defined sales manager roles. Secondly, an effective sales process. Thirdly, a well-considered sales management strategy. Fourthly, the intelligent application of management techniques. Finally, the efficient use of resources. Incorporate these elements well, and any sales team will see significant results in short order.