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Sales Management

What is Sales Management?

Sales management is the process of developing and implementing strategies to generate sales and achieve organizational goals. It involves setting targets, analyzing data, developing plans, and managing people and resources.

The sales management process has recently evolved to become more data-driven and consultative. This has led to the rise of new roles, such as sales operations and sales enablement, which are focused on supporting sales teams with data and resources.

Synonyms

  • Sales leadership
    The art and science of inspiring, guiding, and directing a group of salespeople to achieve their individual best while working together as a team to reach shared objectives.
  • Sales department management 
    Organizing and coordinating a sales team to achieve specific goals.
  • Sales process management
    The creation, documentation, and implementation of a repeatable process for generating and qualifying leads, nurturing prospects, and converting them into customers.

What is the Role of Sales Management?

Sales management is a critical role in any organization. Without effective sales management, generating revenue and creating a frictionless sales process are almost unachievable.

Here are a few of the most vital functions of sales management:

Setting Goals

A sales manager’s primary responsibility is setting targets and quotas for the sales team. This includes determining how much revenue the team should generate and what individual salespeople should contribute.

To set realistic and achievable goals, you need to understand the market, your products and services, and your team’s strengths and weaknesses.

You also need to identify trends and data patterns that can help you forecast future sales.

And when it comes to setting goals for your employees, sales managers need to strike a balance between being too lenient and too demanding. If you’re too demanding, you risk discouraging your team and causing them to lose motivation. But if you’re too lenient, you won’t be maximizing your team’s potential.

Planning and Managing Sales Activities

Sales managers need to know how to create a sales management system. This includes developing strategies, tactics, and programs to generate sales and achieve organizational objectives.

This includes:

  • Developing a pitch deck based on your customers and sales cycle
  • Formulating an outbound strategy
  • Creating and managing a budget
  • Designing and implementing sales training programs
  • Selecting the right sales management tools
  • Planning and executing marketing campaigns
  • Building and maintaining relationships with key customers

To do all these things, sales managers need to be excellent communicators and problem solvers and deeply understand their customers.

Sales Training

The training process looks different in every sales org. But in general, the goal of sales training is to help new and existing employees understand your products or services, develop the skills they need to sell them effectively, and learn about your company’s culture and values.

The most effective sales training programs are ongoing and include a mix of the following:

  • Classroom instruction: This can be in-person or online and covers the basics of selling, such as product knowledge, customer service, and closing techniques. Generally, it is part of the onboarding process but is ongoing on an as-needed basis.
  • On-the-job training: This is when new salespeople shadow more experienced employees to learn how to sell your company’s products or services. For new hires, this is often combined with classroom instruction. For more experienced employees, it’s used for refreshers and information about new products.
  • Sales simulations: These are role-playing exercises that help salespeople learn and practice selling skills in a low-pressure environment. Before a salesperson begins working with actual customers, they should be able to demonstrate their understanding of your products and services and selling techniques.
  • Mentorship: Mentorship programs pair new salespeople with more experienced employees who can provide guidance and support. In many cases, sales managers are mentors. Mentors can also be Account Executives, regional sales leaders, or other senior-level salespeople.
  • Coaching: Coaching is a more hands-on approach to mentorship where the focus is on developing specific skills. For example, a sales coach may work with a new salesperson on their presentation skills or help them develop a strategy for dealing with difficult customers.

When done correctly, sales training can positively impact an organization’s bottom line. It can help new employees hit the ground running and increase the productivity of existing employees.

Motivating the Team

Sales leaders play an integral role in motivating their team. They need to be able to identify what motivates each individual and then provide the necessary support.

Achieving this within your organization can be a challenge because what works for one person may not work for another.

Incentives, such as commissions and bonuses, are a common motivator but may not be effective for everyone. Some people may be more motivated by public recognition or more responsibility. And others may be motivated solely by appreciation and support from their manager.

The best sales leaders take the time to get to know their team and what makes them tick. They build relationships based on trust and mutual respect. And they create an environment where everyone feels like they have a chance to succeed.

By understanding what motivates your team, you can provide the necessary support and guidance to help them reach their full potential.

Evaluating and Reporting

Sales managers are responsible for evaluating the performance of their team and individuals and holding them accountable for results. This includes setting targets and KPIs, tracking progress, and providing feedback.

However, simply meeting targets is not enough–sales managers must also ensure that their team works efficiently and effectively. This means evaluating not only the results achieved but also the methods used to reach those results.

Especially in a remote environment, it’s important to have systems in place to track progress and identify areas where your team may fall behind. This can be done through regular check-ins, daily stand-ups, or weekly reports.

It’s also important to provide feedback that is both positive and constructive. Recognizing successes is crucial for motivation, but so is identifying where your team can improve and giving them the information and resources to execute a plan for success.

Who Benefits from Sales Management?

Managing sales doesn’t just benefit an organization’s employees and business operations. It also provides opportunities for salespeople to develop their skills and careers.

And for customers, stellar sales funnel management means a better purchase experience and useful products that help them achieve their goals.

In short, sales management benefits everyone involved–from the front-line salespeople to the customers they serve.

Sales Managers

A well-run sales operation provides a number of benefits for sales managers.

Perhaps most importantly, it helps to ensure that sales goals are met. A sales manager can more easily identify any potential problems and take corrective action by clearly understanding the sales pipeline and having systems in place to track progress.

A well-run sales management process improves morale and motivation among sales staff as well. When team members feel that they are part of a well-organized and efficient operation, they are more likely to be committed to their work and less likely to become disgruntled.

Well-managed sales processes are often viewed favorably by upper management. When executives see that a sales manager can run a tight ship successfully, they are more likely to entrust that manager with additional responsibilities. 

What these benefits mean for sales managers is that they are able to not only improve their own career prospects but also have a direct impact on the success of their team and organization.

Salespeople

Of course, salespeople benefit from good sales management as well. By being part of a well-run operation, they are able to focus on selling rather than worrying about the administrative details.

Only 24.3% of salespeople met quota last year and one of the primary causes of this is that they are not given the proper tools and resources to succeed.

A great sales manager can provide salespeople with the support and resources they need to be successful. This might include access to relevant market data, helpful tools, templates, or even moral support during a tough sales period.

If your sales org invests in sales lead management software, your sales team will also have an easier time doing their job. In turn, this can lead to higher close rates, and more sales, meaning higher commissions and easier day-to-day operations for them.

Customers

Customers benefit significantly from good sales management. Because a well-managed sales process is efficient, customers can expect a streamlined purchase process to accelerate your B2B sales cycle.

In addition, when salespeople have the resources and information they need to do their job well, they are more likely to sell products that meet the customer’s needs–and exceed their expectations.

Sales management tools also give insight into the overall user experience of your product. By understanding how customers interact with your product, you can make changes to improve the customer experience and increase sales.

Sales Management Best Practices

If the functions of sales management aren’t well-executed, it can result in numerous problems for your organization.

To avoid these problems, here are some best practices for sales management:

1. Set Expectations for Employees as Early as Possible

Does your team have a clear understanding of what is expected of them? Sales managers should set expectations for their team members early to avoid confusion and conflict later on.

To prevent false expectations, always communicate more than you think is necessary. Good sales managers take the additional time to guarantee that everyone understands who is responsible for which results and when they are expected. They also ensure that everyone knows the ramifications of achieving–or not achieving–these results.

To avoid missing the mark on quotas and KPIs, effective sales leaders encourage their teams to create SMART goals.

SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. By ensuring that team goals meet these criteria, you can avoid setting your team up for disappointment–and increase the likelihood of achieving success.

2. Schedule One-on-One Time With Every Rep

One-on-one consultations are an often-overlooked part of the sales manager’s role. These regular check-ins allow sales managers to provide feedback, offer support, and get to know their team members on a personal level.

But a HubSpot research study showed that 44% of sellers look to their manager for guidance. Since nearly half of sales teams need this type of support, making time for one-on-ones–even when you’re busy is essential.

In addition, one-on-ones are a great time for reps to voice any concerns they might have about their job or their career.

By addressing these issues early, you can avoid potential problems down the road. One-on-ones also give sales managers an opportunity to coach their team members and help them improve their unique skills and selling style.

These sessions only need to happen once every week or two, but they should be regular and consistent.

A few good subjects of discussion on personal consultations include:

  • How the seller feels about their current quota
  • How they are currently managing their time
  • Any obstacles they face in their sales process
  • The progress of their personal development goals
  • Achieving work-life balance
  • Personal and professional aspirations

By having these conversations on a regular basis, you can build trust and rapport with your team–and create an environment where people feel comfortable coming to you with problems.

3. Share Successes With the Team

One of the best ways to motivate your sales team is to celebrate successes together. When one team member hits their quota, the whole team should feel like they won.

To encourage this sense of camaraderie, good sales managers make a point to share big successes–and lessons learned from failures–with the entire team. This way, everyone can learn from both the wins and the losses.

In addition, sharing successes makes people feel appreciated and valued. This recognition is a powerful motivator that can encourage your team to keep up the good work.

When sharing successes (or failures), be sure to focus on the entire team’s efforts, rather than singling out one individual. The goal is to create a sense of unity and purpose, not to make anyone feel left out or inferior.

4. Give Salespeople the Tools for Continued Success

Whether your salespeople stay with your company forever or take their selling skills elsewhere, you want them to succeed.

One of the best ways to ensure this success is to give them the tools they need to succeed–both now and in the future.

For some sellers, this might mean honing their skills through training and coaching. For others, it could mean giving them mentorship, supporting their side hustle, or introducing them to new areas of the company.

It’s also important to give your salespeople the necessary resources to succeed in their job. This might mean providing them with a top-of-the-line CRM for sales management, investing in market intelligence, or giving them access to new leads.

By giving your sales team the tools they need to be successful, you’re not only helping them–you’re also increasing the likelihood that they’ll stick around and continue to produce results for your company. And retaining top sales talent has never been more critical.

5. Consistently Fine-Tune Your Business Management Skills (and Theirs)

Achieving and sustaining growth requires sales teams to be excellent at the basic blocking and tackling of business management. This means having a clear strategy, well-defined goals, a deep understanding of their territory and customers, rigorous measurement and business planning, disciplined activity management and forecasting, and regular reviews of key accounts.

Sales teams that are strong in these areas have a bias towards growth. They are always looking for ways to improve their performance and generate more business.

By contrast, teams that are weak in these areas tend to be more reactive, firefighting issues as they arise rather than proactively pursuing growth.

If your team is not achieving the results you want, take a close look at your level of expertise in these core areas of business management (as well as theirs). Chances are, you will find some room for improvement.

6. Never Stop Learning

Sales managers are always striving to improve their skills and knowledge. They understand that in order to be successful, they need to learn and adapt continuously.

They set the example for their sales team by demonstrating a commitment to lifelong learning. They invest time and energy in training and practicing with their salespeople. They challenge themselves and their team to continually “raise the bar.”

Learning is a priority for sales managers, and they make it a habit for themselves and their team. By investing in their own development, they lead by example and create an environment that promotes growth and success.

Benefits of a Sales Management System

Since we can only do so much as people, the sales management process can only be as successful as the system that supports it. Thus, a sales management system is integral to digital sales transformation.

A sales management system is a tool that helps sales managers plan, organize, and track their team’s activities. It can store customer data, create and assign tasks, track progress towards goals, and measure performance.

If you choose the best sales management software, benefits include:

Unlock Customer Data

Sales data deficiency is one of the biggest issues within sales orgs. A sales management system can help you unlock customer data that would otherwise be siloed in different departments or software platforms. 

This data can create a 360-degree view of the customer, which is essential for understanding their needs and providing them with the best possible experience.

For example, a B2B software company could use a CRM for sales management to track customer data from the marketing, sales, and success teams. This would give them a complete view of the customer journey, from awareness to conversion to retention.

It will also help them quantify customers’ objections to using their product, which will be valuable information for both objection-handling and product development.

By understanding how customers interact with your product or service at every stage, you can optimize your process, better qualify future candidates, handle objections on sales calls, and ultimately close more deals.

Automated Workflows and Reduced Admin Time

A good sales management system will automate and streamline workflows, saving your team time and reducing admin tasks.

For example, a contact management system could automatically add new leads to a nurture campaign, or a deal tracking system could send reminders to the assigned sales rep when a deal is nearing its close date.

Similarly, sales proposal automation can drive revenue by keeping your CRM updated, improving cross-team collaboration, and by automating repetitive tasks, your team can focus on selling, rather than administrative work.

And when it comes to sales funnel management, using software means that you can track progress in real-time and identify any bottlenecks in the process. This allows you to make data-driven decisions about allocating your team’s time and energy.

Improved Forecasting Analytics and Reports

A sales management system can also improve your forecasting analytics and reporting. You can create more accurate forecasts by tracking key data points, such as deal size, win rate, and close date.

You can also generate reports to track progress towards goals and identify areas of improvement. For example, a report could show that your team is struggling to close deals in the final stage of the sales process.

To find a solution, you can review the data to see if there is a common objection that sales reps are encountering. With this information, you can develop a plan to address the objection, such as providing additional training or creating a new playbook.

Or, you may realize that you are targeting the wrong customers and only uncovering the underlying issues in the final stage of the sales process. In this case, you can use this information to adjust your targeting criteria and qualify leads based on these measures earlier on.

People Also Ask

What is the main role of a sales manager in an organization?

A sales manager is responsible for leading and motivating a team of salespeople. To be successful, a sales manager must be able to set targets, develop strategies, and provide coaching and feedback. They must also create an effective work environment in which their team can flourish. 

What are the four basic elements of sales management?

The four basic elements of sales management are planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. Planning involves setting goals and objectives and developing strategies to achieve them. Organizing involves creating a sales plan and assigning responsibilities to team members.

Leading involves motivating and inspiring team members to perform at their best. And controlling involves measuring results and making adjustments as necessary to ensure that the goal is met. By mastering all four of these elements, a sales manager can set his or her team up for success.

What are the 4 steps in the sales management process?

An effective sales manager will deeply understand the four basic elements of sales management:

1. Setting targets
2. Developing strategies
3. Managing resources
4. Tracking performance

By carefully planning and executing each of these elements, a sales manager can ensure that their team is operating at peak efficiency and achieving the best possible results.