Behind every great sales team is a great sales management system.
Adopting the right approach to sales management can set your team up for success through a combination of smarter sales operations, strategy, and analysis.
But what is sales management, exactly? And how can you use it to improve your team’s sales performance?
In this is a guide to sales team management, we’ll discuss why sales management is so important, what it looks like in practice, and how to implement better sales management across your sales org.
What is Sales Management?
Let’s kick things off with a quick definition.
Sales management is the process of developing, managing, and optimizing all aspects of a sales organization. This includes everything from building a repeatable sales process and choosing the right sales intelligence tools to streamlining your sales funnel and lead generation.
There are three main areas of sales management, each of which plays a crucial role in the success of any sales org: sales operations, sales strategy, and sales analysis.
Your sales operations impact your organizational structure and processes, who’s on your team, how they relate to each other, and how your sales department functions.
A large part of sales management is making business decisions that benefit and support the sales team. This includes how you hire, onboard, train, and compensate team members as well as daily operations.
Your sales strategy defines your approach to sales. A thorough sales strategy covers how you generate leads, how you position your product or service, and which sales activities you focus on at each step of the pipeline.
For example, your sales strategy should answer questions like:
- What sales prospecting techniques work best for each customer segment?
- What is your ideal customer profile?
- What’s your lead scoring model?
- How do you define marketing-qualified leads and sales-qualified leads?
- What steps should your salespeople take to move opportunities through the pipeline?
If sales strategy informs how your team sells, then sales analysis informs why you approach sales the way you do. Sales analysis involves finding patterns in sales reports, tracking metrics, reviewing your pipeline, and identifying points of friction.
Part of sales management is attaching key performance indicators (KPIs) to sales activities. Depending on your primary goals, your top KPIs might include:
- Number of sales activities completed per day or per week (outreach, meetings, follow-ups, etc.)
- Number of active deals in your pipeline
- Conversion rate at each step of your pipeline
- Total win rate (by team or by rep)
- Average deal size
Why Should You Invest in Sales Management?
Sales management isn’t just something enterprise-level corporations should invest in—businesses of all types and sizes can benefit from sales management.
But why is sales team management so important?
Good sales management brings out the best in your sales reps and enables the whole team to do their job more effectively. It increases your team’s efficiency and enables your organization to consistently hit and exceed sales targets.
Everyone involved in the sales process benefits from better sales management—including your business, your sales reps, and your customers.
Furthermore, sales management helps SMBs and sales teams of all sizes weather changes in the market, embrace emerging technology and strategies, and keep up with evolving customer expectations.
Sales Management Strategies for Small Businesses
How can small businesses and startups use sales management to get ahead of the competition? Let’s look at some of the best sales management strategies for optimizing your sales team’s performance.
1. Define Your Sales Process
Set your team up for success by providing them with a detailed sales blueprint to follow. That means defining your sales process step by step—from lead generation to outreach to addressing sales objections to closing the deal.
Each step should have its own set of sales activities and a conversion goal or trigger event that signals a prospect is ready to move to the next stage. Furthermore, these activities and goals should be clear, repeatable, and adaptable as needed to serve every type of sales prospect.
2. Set Realistic Goals
Is it better to set sales quotas that are too high or too low? Ideally, you should motivate your reps with challenging-yet-attainable sales goals. Challenge reps to compete against themselves by hitting a slightly higher quota than last month or create a rewards system that inspires friendly competition amongst team members. You can also take a look at how sales teams in various companies are performing. This can help you with goal setting.
3. Hire the Right People
Building a strong sales team starts with recruiting and hiring the right type of sales representatives for your business. Not only should they have the hard skills that make them right for the job, but there should be a sense of culture fit. For example, are they willing to bring new ideas to the table and share their keys to success? And since we are in the age of remote work, you should consider using software to be able to monitor your employees performance.
4. Streamline Onboarding
How long does it take new sales reps to ramp up to full productivity? A better onboarding process allows new hires to get up to speed more quickly, embrace company culture more confidently, and start closing deals sooner.
Streamlining your onboarding processes is also linked to employee satisfaction and reduced turnover—which can build loyalty, improve performance, and save on hiring costs.
5. Encourage Open Communication
To set clear expectations and prevent miscommunication, encourage open dialogue between sales leaders and reps. Managers and team leads should aim to provide constructive, actionable feedback and invite reps to ask for help or clarification when needed.
Talk to all members of your sales team to find out where they’re struggling and what they’re learning about customers as they sell. This helps ensure all team members have a clear understanding of the goals, performance KPIs, and sales processes that impact their day-to-day tasks.
6. Measure (and Reward) Results
Go out of your way to acknowledge and celebrate wins. Whether it’s a team-wide performance boost or a big win for an individual rep, we recommend rewarding the entire team as a unit to inspire camaraderie. Incentivize your sales reps with a reward structure that celebrates hard work, teamwork, and results.
Of course, to recognize improvement, you must first attach meaningful KPIs to specific sales activities and track performance. When in doubt, focus on SMART sales KPIs—ones that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely.
7. Reflect and Adapt
If there’s one thing sales teams have learned over the past year and a half, it’s to expect the unexpected. Resilience and flexibility in the face of changing circumstances were some of the biggest indicators of a business’ ability to survive the pandemic.
Rather than getting set in your ways, default to the assumption that there’s always more to learn from those around you—including your sales reps, sales reports, and customers. Create a sales culture that can adapt and respond to new data points and changing trends.
8. Focus on Lead Quality Over Quantity
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: lead quality is more important than lead quantity. (Of course, the ideal scenario is to have a whole lot of high-quality leads.)
Your sales process should prioritize sourcing leads from your historically high-value channels and outline repeatable steps they can take to attract high-value leads.
9. Use the Right Sales Management Tools
Does your sales team use technology to make their jobs easier? With the right sales stack—including a CRM, lead gen tools, and automation—you can save time by automating repetitive tasks, gain insights into your sales pipeline, and make more informed decisions that benefit your sales team.
Sales Management Tools: The Best High-Tech Solutions for Managing Sales Teams
Managing operations, strategy, and analytics is a lot to handle all at once. The most effective sales managers know that they can’t do it all alone, which is why they rely on sales management tools to help them excel.
If you’re looking for solutions to simplify and streamline your sales management processes, there are plenty of sales tools and software you can add to your sales stack.
Not sure what the best options are for your team? Here’s a quick overview of the most popular types of sales management software for small teams, startups, and SMBs.
Not only does using the right lead generation tools save your sales reps time and energy (that can be refocused on actually selling!), but it can also increase the quality of leads entering your pipeline. You can use technology to target the right type of leads, gather accurate contact information, and set your reps up for success.
Make the most of new leads by keeping track of prospect details and interactions. Marketing automation can help you identify when a prospect is ready to speak to a sales rep, nurture leads who aren’t quite ready to buy, and connect inbound leads with a quota-carrying sales rep.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Your CRM plays a big role in your sales process—especially as your business scales and your contact list outgrows the limitations of a spreadsheet. Using a CRM like Salesforce allows you to visualize your sales pipeline so you can see where each lead or opportunity is, forecast close dates and future revenue, and prevent deals from stalling at any point.
Using a task management tool, like Monday.com, Trello, or Asana, helps keep teams organized and focused on the most impactful sales activities. Managers can create and assign tasks to specific reps, share updates with the team on project status, and check in on deadlines.
Task managing tools also help keep sales reps accountable and allow you to see ahead of time if there are any problems or roadblocks that could impact quarterly or monthly targets.
When it comes to scheduling team meetings, pipeline reviews, and one-on-one performance reviews, a shared scheduling tool (like Calendly) makes it easy to sync calendars and find times that work for everyone involved. This allows your sales team to book meetings without emailing back and forth repeatedly—and provides a calendar link that makes it easier for leads to book meetings as well.
Open communication between sales reps and managers is good for the whole team. Whether your team is back in the office or working remotely, using a team communication tool like Slack makes it easy to check in with individuals, provide department-wide updates, and organize conversations by topic or account.
Slack also allows team members to thread replies async, so you can minimize lengthy email chains that would otherwise clog up your inbox.
How Datanyze Supports Better Sales Management
Datanyze is a B2B lead generation tool that makes it easier for your sales team to connect with high-value prospects. By supplying you with actionable, accurate contact data, Datanyze allows you to find your next customer faster than ever.
Try the Datanyze Chrome Extension for free and discover how effortless sales management can be with the right tools. Ready to take it for a spin? Create your free account now.