Selling isn’t the easiest of jobs to do. Efficient sales team management, especially for a new sales manager, is chock-a-block with challenges. Even seasoned sales mavens struggle at times, imagine the position of someone who is new to managing a sales team. In this article, we look at ten legit tips on how to manage sales teams efficiently, including some of the best practices you must follow for managing a remote sales team.
Tips for efficient sales team management
Every sales manager wants to create a team of high-value sales performers. Most new sales managers will find it incredibly difficult to get results as soon as they assume charge. With high levels of competition in every field, selling becomes challenging. Let’s look at the top tips for the question “How to manage a sales team?”
Get to know your team
Making the time to get to know your team members as individuals is a pivotal part of being a sales manager. Even though each member of your team has a collective goal, they have their own needs and aspirations. Understanding what motivates someone, the everyday challenges they face, and how they get things done will keep you in good stead.
When you know the strengths and weaknesses of your sales team members, every step you take will be more proactive than reactive. As a new sales manager, you should be in a position to get the best out of everybody, and getting to know your team members personally is a good start.
Make training programs a part of the culture
Not training your sales staff regularly is akin to not upgrading your laptop with the passage of time. After a point, it will not give you the performance and alacrity that you expect from it. Salespeople can easily get bogged down due to constant rejections, unless there is constant motivation and an opportunity to upgrade their skills. They are bound to make mistakes, some of which could have been avoided too. This is why ongoing training should be a part of your company’s culture.
Continuous training in related disciplines will keep them sharp and put them in a position to take advantage of opportunities. If you invest continually in your salespeople, it will result in the following:
- It shows that you are invested in your team members’ success
- Training makes them get better at handling objections, presentation skills, communicating value, and improving efficiency
- Builds the morale of your team
- Helps them stay sharp and updated with the latest sales trends
- They will also get better at leveraging the various resources and technologies available
Set clear goals
You want a clear target in mind when you take the arrow from the quiver. In the same way, without definite goals in mind, your sales team will not know where to start and what exactly to do. Prioritizing your goals and the tasks required to achieve each of them. Goal setting should be something that you carefully put your effort into. Otherwise, there will be a mismatch in expectations.
If you find activities that don’t align with the goals you’ve set for the team, discard them immediately. Mundane tasks like record-keeping, documenting, collecting information, etc., can be allocated to those who take care of admin activities. It will lift the weight off your sales team’s shoulders and lets them concentrate on high-value activities that affect the bottom line.
Below are a few goals that a new sales manager must concentrate on:
- Increasing face-to-face meetings
- Increasing conversions
- Starting training programs
- Reducing churn with after-sales support
You can get a lot done if you take control of the calendar, especially when you are starting out as a sales manager. The more you stick to the activities planned, the higher the possibility of achieving your goals. It’s possible to do this through regular one-to-one meetings, sales reviews, daily and weekly check-ins, activity reviews, etc.
Lay down clear expectations
Your sales reps need to know what is expected of them and the kind of resources that will be available at their disposal. Communicate what they are responsible for, when they need to do them, what results are expected from them, and the support that will be available. By setting clear expectations, they will be in a position to make the right decisions.
For a new sales manager, the ability to communicate expectations with clarity is a huge skill. It will help you and your team avoid disappointments and frustrations. The expectations should be at a granular level. it should include information about where the leads come from and what is expected of them when they are presented with it.
Below are a few more areas where clear expectations should be set:
- Steps to take for each prospect
- Technologies and resources available at every stage in the sales process
- Behavioral expectations
- Frequency of communication with the team
- Performance goals
Since sales is an area that is highly dynamic, be prepared to set new expectations regularly without making a drastic change to their current responsibilities.
Track sales metrics
Measure the progress made by your sales teams and use it as a benchmark to keep progressing in the future. It also gives you an idea of who deserves a bonus, determines pressing issues, or merit incentives.
Let’s look at some of the most important sales metrics that you should track:
- Total revenue generated on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis
- The average revenue per product/customer/account
- Opportunity-to-win ratio
- Lifetime Value (LTV) of a customer
- Sales quota attainment
- Sales expense ratio
You will have an efficient sales team if you follow the data. More than 72% of salespeople say that their teams need access to aggregated customer data across departments, according to The CRM Impact Report. Without the right metrics to measure your team’s productivity and performance, you will be severely handicapped when having to make important sales decisions.
The use of technology makes it easy for sales reps to carry out their day-to-day tasks. According to McKinsey, more than 30% of sales-related activities can be automated. It can free your reps from hours of manual effort which can be invested in providing the right solution for your prospects. Tasks like data entry, researching prospects, follow-ups, updates, and more can be easily automated with a variety of tools.
The first addition to your sales stack should be a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. It empowers salespeople by identifying sales opportunities by tracking deals in the pipeline. It acts as a “hub” of sorts for your sales team by making it easier to implement a thorough sales process.
Listen to your team
Effective communication is a two-way process. You should encourage your sales reps to air their thoughts and solicit feedback and ideas from them. It will make them feel valued and respected. Be transparent in your dealings with them. Do not over-promise anything. If you find most reps voicing out the same issues, it means that there is something inherently wrong with how you have set expectations.
Instead of telling your reps what to do, ask them for their opinions. A simple “What do you think should be the next course of action in this particular scenario?” could result in insightful suggestions. Since your sales reps are the ones who work closely with prospects, they are better placed to understand the needs and preferences of customers. It would be unwise to not include them in the decision-making process.
Set the right commissions and incentives
Create an environment where everyone in the team helps each other out, but also competes with each other for the top sales awards. Having the right set of incentives and a lucrative commission structure will encourage your team to go out of their way in closing deals.
There are a number of ways in which you can come up with commission structures. Choose one that fits the needs of your sales reps and that of the organization. While commissions are awarded for closing every deal, incentives motivate the reps to push themselves harder. As a sales manager, your job is to keep your team highly motivated. The incentives offered should make them put in extra effort.
Give detailed feedback
The importance of one-on-one review meetings cannot be stressed enough. Delivering feedback to your sales reps must be done the right way. It should be constructive, and detailed, and motivate them to take corrective action. There is a clear dearth of feedback as at least 65% of employees wish they had more feedback, according to HubSpot.
Don’t expect your reps to share all their issues in front of other team members. This is exactly why personal meetings are best to give and take feedback. The feedback session is also a great opportunity to learn about them on a more personal level. It will help you understand their motivations and come up with a more personalized strategy for them to increase their wins.
Be open to accepting help
When you lead a team of motivated sales reps, the buck stops with you. But that shouldn’t deter you from seeking help when necessary. There are times when you will be in unfamiliar territory. You should keep yourself open to accepting help from your bosses, peers, and reporters. Turn to well-wishers and trusted colleagues in the face of challenges. Know that you don’t have to do or handle everything alone. A smart sales manager knows that she has a number of resources and professionals at her disposal.
How to manage a remote sales team?
A FlexJobs survey says that 65% of employees want to work remotely full-time post-pandemic. There are no surprises here because remote work offers a level of comfort as it saves the time taken for commute and helps employees spend more time with their family.
The lack of water cooler talk or real interactions is a huge dampener for salespeople who love the day-to-day companionship with their team. Remote sales teams are a new reality and it involves conducting business through a suite of technologies that make it possible. Managing remote sales teams comes with its own set of challenges.
Let’s look at some of the best practices to follow for efficiently managing a remote sales team.
- Invest in technologies that enable remote work. Digital tools like Salesgear, Slack, Trello, Zoom, HubSpot, etc., can make remote selling a cakewalk
- Come up with consistent routines as they can help manage your sales team with ease
- Ensure that your hiring process includes questions that are specific to virtual selling
- Track your team’s progress through a shared metrics dashboard
- Work-related meetings are a must-have but do simulate watercooler talks by connecting online to talk about non-work-related topics
- Create leaderboards and dashboards to display team-wide metrics for all to see. It gamifies the sales process and develops healthy competition among peers
- Don’t let your remote team drown in non-sales activities
- Review the sales process regularly to see if there is any unexpected friction in virtual selling
Managing a remote team efficiently involves a lot of coordinated effort. The above pointers can be considered best practices that have the power to smoothen your remote sales operations. Grow your business remotely by building an efficient remote sales team.
For a new sales manager, managing a team can be a daunting task as the selling process involves a lot of uncertainties. By taking the time to understand the market you are working in and by implementing the tips mentioned in this article, managing a sales team wouldn’t remain too difficult a task.