An illustration of a sales team

How To Manage A Successful Sales Team

Managing a sales team can be extremely challenging, particularly if you are running a rapidly growing business. If your team is not well-managed it will lead to some very negative outcomes including unhappy sales reps, poor conversion rates, and low productivity levels. It is imperative that you get it right.

In this post I’ll be sharing several essential tips to help you master the art of managing a successful sales team. They will help you gain control over the direction of your sales team and grow your business.

Associate Sales Goals With Strategies

It’s important to define sales goals as they give your team something to work towards and improve outcomes for your business. However, each goal must be accompanied by a clear and cohesive strategy. You cannot simply tell your team to achieve 20% more sales without giving them the tools, tactics, information, and motivation they need to achieve that goal.

Sales goals on a chart

Each of your goals should be S.M.A.R.T goals, which are:

  • Specific
    Well-defined, clear, and easy-to-understand
  • Measurable
    Progress towards the goal can easily be measured
  • Achievable
    The sales team has what it needs to achieve this goal
  • Realistic
    Reaching this goal is possible
  • Time-based
    The goal must be met within a certain time frame

A simple example would be to improve weekly conversions by 10% within the next 8 weeks. This S.M.A.R.T goal must be attached to one or more strategies. For example, you might associate it with an improved sales script, new lead management tool, better analytics, improved advertising, and so on. This ensures your sale team has a reasonable chance of reaching that specific goal.

Don’t Become Overly Fixated On Goals

Wait, what?

Yes, I just wrote that goals are important — however, you should avoid becoming overly fixated on sales goals. There will be several factors which influence the ability of your sales team to reach the goals that you have set. Some of these factors may be beyond the control of your sales team, like access to technology, the suitability of promotional content, and marketing budget.

It can be demoralising for a sales team to have goals that are extremely difficult to reach because these other factors are in play. One useful approach is to plan for failure. Realise that some goals will not be met and that your sales team may not be to blame. Failure is actually an important part of the process of building an effective sales team as it can provide you with valuable information.

Prioritise Training

Illustration of a sales team receiving training

Many of the sales representatives you hire will only have basic sales knowledge or gaps in their sales knowledge. It is your job to provide initial and ongoing training to fill those gaps, making your team more competent and effective.

Training should delve into topics like:

  • New product specifications
  • Prospect qualifications
  • Using CRM products and other software tools
  • How to incorporate sales enablement techniques into daily practise
  • Sales processes
  • Deal flows

Use a variety of training techniques, including seminars, tutorials, mentoring, videos, and literature. By giving your team more ways to access training, they are more likely to utilise it.

Help Your Team Stay Organised

Providing your sales team with tools that help them work much more efficiently. At the very least, you should provide them with a client relationship management tool that they find enjoyable to use. Other valuable tools include sales content management, customer research, sales intelligence, video conferencing, sales analytics, and customer service tools.

Segment Your Team

Traditionally, a sales team consists of a manager and a group of sales executives who perform many types of sales-related tasks. It is a simple model that encourages sales rep independence. However, the downside of this approach is that each sales rep must have the skills necessary to move a prospect all the way along the sales pipeline.

A different approach is to segment the sales team based upon their skills and speciality. You can segment your team into several groups including:

  • Leads generation and qualification
    Specialising in generating and evaluating leads.
  • Sales development
    Contacts prospects and evaluates how far along the customer journey they are.
  • Closing new business
    The ‘closers’ who will convert a prospect into a customer.
  • Continued customer success/management
    Sales reps who build ongoing relationships with customers, ensure they are happy, and continue selling to them.

Assigning the members of your sales team into these specialisations can make them extremely skilled at a particular part of the sales pipeline. It also helps them avoid multitasking on very different kinds of tasks, which can damage their productivity levels. You can eventually develop a team of highly-skilled specialists who are collaborating very effectively.

Avoid Excessive Rule Making

In general terms, smart salespeople enjoy having a high level of autonomy. They don’t like having to perform administrative tasks or comply with excessively strict protocols. If you can remove unnecessary obstacles and listen to your team, they will perform exceptionally well. If there are rules that you must enforce, keep them as simple as possible so they don’t interfere with the creativity and spontaneity of your talented sales reps.

Promote Creative Incentives

A sales person being given a medal

The best way to keep your sales team highly motivated is to offer incentives. Most successful salespeople are motivated by two things – money and recognition.

The simplest way to exploit this fact is to offer weekly bonuses based on performance. However, you can also get more creative with your incentives to really spice things up. Try a few of the following ideas:

  • Give your best performing rep for the month a day off
  • Give out monthly awards to your best-performing sales reps (gives them plenty of valuable recognition)
  • Taking the entire team out for dinner at a nice restaurant if they make a sales target
  • Share stories about successful sales with the entire team
  • Offer a wide variety of prizes for the best performers each month like tickets to sporting events, fruit baskets, wine, and sports car hire for a day

Setup Support Structures For Your Team

Being a sales rep is a tough gig. It usually involves a fair amount of pressure and being rejected by prospects can become a very demoralising experience. Have support in place for anyone who is struggling with the job. This should include mentoring, additional training, and coaching. Your team should know that you are on their side and eager to help any members who are struggling.

Prioritise Sales Goals

Determine which sales goals currently have the most value for your business. Would you benefit from obtaining more leads each day or do you need to focus on closing sales? Does your sales team need to become better at tracking prospect activity or do you need to evaluate prospects more effectively? Make sure your team is working towards goals that matter.

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