Managing Sales Effectively: A Hands-On Guide

If you want to run a successful business, managing sales is essential. You need to marshal your team to maximise sales and improve the customer experience. 

Of course, that’s easier said than done. Each salesperson is unique, and everyone has a slightly different approach to enticing customers to convert. 

Fortunately, robust sales management techniques can help. With the right approach, you can transform the effectiveness of your team and generate impressive results sooner than you might think.  

So, What Is Sales Management Anyway?

Sales management can be broken down into three primary activities:

  1. Coordinating sales operations
  2. Implementing sales techniques
  3. Developing sales reps

Combining these three activities enables sales managers to deploy strategies that help them meet the business’s sales objectives. Improving the sales forces’ selling skills or updating techniques makes it more feasible to deliver top-line results expected by C-suite executives. 

Proper sales management lets you build a platform that enables your company to thrive. Businesses that do this successfully can scale their operations faster, better coordinate sales efforts, and improve the quality of each sale they make. Moreover, they can build lasting relationships with customers, increasing their lifetime value. 

What Does A Sales Manager Do?

The nitty-gritty of sales management is where real value gets added. Companies may call on sales managers to:

  • Explore ways to improve the efficacy of their sales processes
  • Develop systems to monitor sales rep performance 
  • Set goals and milestones for sales teams
  • Assist reps in finding high-quality leads
  • Improve reporting and analytics

Great sales managers apply consistency in everything they do. They know that the more they can refine their processes, the more sales their teams will make. 

How To Manage A Sales Team Effectively

Managing a sales team is different from managing other internal teams. Unlike finance and accounting, sales teams are necessarily customer-facing. As such, they need to be at their best at all times.

Given this reality, managing sales is more challenging than other departments. Managers often have to fully commit themselves to the role, dedicating their lives to what they do.

In the following section, we run through some of the principles of effective sales management. Read on to learn more. 

Focus On Building A Great Team

Building a great team is a sales manager’s top priority. The first task is to find people who can actually sell, and the second is to retain them. 

Unfortunately, top salespeople aren’t always available. Therefore, sales managers have to develop instincts telling them which candidates are likely to become great salespeople following proper professional development. 

Managers also have to be expert sellers themselves. Team members will often go to them for guidance on how to approach a particular lead. They need to be confident in their own selling ability before giving team members recommendations. 

Creating a robust sales process is another critical feature of the role. Providing employees with a comprehensive sales guide helps them make better decisions and enables them to work with clients more seamlessly. Regularly updating it lets them access the latest techniques and sales strategies – essential for long-term success. 

Build A Desirable Culture

Sales managers sometimes overlook the importance of culture when chasing sales targets. Pressure from the C-suite distracts from the value of developing a team with aligned goals and values. 

However, culture is critical to the success of sales teams. Without the right attitudes in place, making sales and meeting targets is almost impossible. 

Culture is essential for several reasons. First, it determines team dynamics. If you have a positive culture in your organisation, team members are much more likely to support each other, creating synergies that you don’t get when each salesperson sees themselves as separate from the rest of the team.

Secondly, having a great culture encourages professional development. Team members are much more likely to stick around if they enjoy the way your firm works. 

Lastly, healthy cultures encourage team “buy-in.” Instead of just showing up to work for a salary, reps internalise the goals and objectives of the company and become real team players. They put their heart and soul into their work rather than merely going through the motions. Forbes found that companies in their 100 Best Companies to Work For list had annual returns of 495 percent versus just 156 percent for the S&P 500 as a whole. 

Sales managers don’t have complete control over company culture. However, there are many things that they can do to steer it in the right direction. These include:

  • Praising team members when they are successful and recognising their contribution to the firm
  • Promoting values, such as inclusivity, so that everyone feels like a valued member of the team
  • Eliminating the “every man for himself” mentality that can dominate many sales teams
  • Regularly collecting team feedback to determine whether the culture is as healthy as it appears
  • Delving more deeply to understand individual team members’ needs instead of treating everyone in the same way

Successful sales managers avoid relying purely on instinct. They back up their intuition with hard data, such as sales metrics, surveys and monthly stand-ups. Furthermore, they are incredibly discerning when hiring a new team member. They look for people who are passionate about making sales and aren’t just looking for a 9-to-5 to pay the bills. Candidates with a great sense of humour regularly go to the top of the pile. 

Leverage The Right Incentives

Lastly, sales managers need to leverage incentives intelligently so that reps’ actions line up with company objectives. Getting this wrong can lead to long-term underperformance. 

For instance, suppose that your company only pays sales reps commission for new customer accounts. Will reps focus on building existing accounts? Of course not. There’s no profit in it for them. 

Managers also need to develop pay structures that provide opportunities for progression, even without commission. For instance, you might have different pay grades for junior, intermediate, and senior sales representatives, (linked to the likely number of sales they will make in any given month). 

Being A Great Sales Manager

In summary, dales management is challenging, but also highly rewarding. If you can get it right, you can make yourself invaluable to the company you serve. Just remember, creating a sales team is always a work in progress. There’s always room for improvement.