The Idea

To get the best possible performance from your sales team you need a great manager and a framework that allows that manager to deliver their role. Wondering how to manage a sales team and get results every time? Here's what you need to know.

Great businesses manage sales teams by blending three key management areas:

  1. The right person for the job
  2. The right processes and systems to support sound, consistent management and
  3. The right tools and technology to underpin the management function.

Finding the right talent

A great sales manager may have relevant qualifications, but perhaps more importantly, they will have a solid background in sales, a keen understanding of what it takes to do the job well, and the ability to drive a team's performance in the right direction. Often, the talent needed to manage sales teams comes from within an organisation with the right development programmes and internal promotion pathways. So if your business can plan succession, you can have a long-term view of your up-and-coming management talent. Talented existing and would-be sales managers can be trained externally or via internal training programmes which you might want to have externally accredited for quality.

How to manage sales teams effectively - the right structure

Effective management is underpinned by the right systems, tools technologies and processes. It begins with a structure that defines business expectations for management and explains how managers can meet these expectations. For example, sales management needs to be carried out consistently with a clear set of established processes and procedures for key activities such as recruiting, development, performance managing, issues management and so forth. The right system will give managers a strong foundation to manage consistently and confidently across your business, and to focus on delivery.

Managing effectively with the right tools and technology

With the right talent and structure, the next focus area is tools and technology. For example, sales team managers need tools that allow them to:

  1. Communicate with their teams easily and update other stakeholders across the business
  2. Performance manage individual team members with clear objectives, targets and goals
  3. See sales performance across the team at any time
  4. Check the pipeline for progress and milestones, and identify areas for improvement
  5. Collaborate with different employees and colleagues to come up with new ideas for focus and development.

Some businesses use different systems to bring these different management elements together, but forward-thinking businesses are increasingly using cloud-based tools such as Salessound to integrate these different sales areas and to make it easier to manage them effectively.

Salessound brings together everything that sales managers need to make team management easy. For example, within a single cloud-managed platform managers can:

  • Manage individuals within their teams, setting objectives and goals
  • Come up with new ideas and encourage input to those ideas
  • Carry out snapshot surveys to get feedback and input
  • Rapidly and accurately manage and deliver reporting
  • Look at insights and trends into sales performance for better focus and decision-making
  • Easily and instantly see the business, team and personal dashboards, linking to the overall business strategy for more integrated and intelligent management that links every individual within the business to a clear and common set of goals and targets.

Effective team management - tips for success

1. Build relationships
Great managers are always good relationship-builders because they know that effective communication is key to success. Good relationships also allow managers to know what's happening on the ground and to be one step ahead of any issues in the team.

2. Be clear
Success in this role requires clarity. You must be able to clarify the business plan, company strategy, team objectives and individual goals.

3. Hire the right people
Don't make the mistake of 'filling a seat'. It's better to lengthen a search to find a great salesperson. Once that person is in, take the time to carefully and thoroughly onboard, train and develop them - so that they become a long-term, high-performing individual that progresses within the team.

4. Match the right people to the right jobs
If you can find great fits for different roles and tasks, you can develop and encourage people to grow and evolve their skill sets - building increasingly valuable team members. Yes, they will eventually move on - but your own reputation as a developer of talent will grow too.

5. Find incentives
There are many ways to incentivise salespeople - from leaderboards and spot prizes to nights out and big-ticket prices. Praise, reward and recognise effort and performance to build a culture of success.

6. Set transparent targets
Clear and transparent targets make it easy for your salespeople to strive to achieve. Always be clear, open and honest.

7. Deliver feedback
It can be hard to deliver challenging feedback, but a good manager must handle the good and bad. Have regular one-on-one sessions with each team member, record outcomes, and have a constructive open and two-way discussion that facilities improvements. Be prepared to hear hard messages from your team too at times and take them on board.

8. Encourage an open and honest communication culture
Encourage your team to come to you with issues, ideas, feedback, and observations and you'll create a healthy, interactive culture where people aren't afraid to speak up.

9. Get your reps involved with planning
Sales reps often have tremendous talent that can be developed into additional tasks. Get them involved in your planning cycle, to benefit from their experience and insights.

10. Seek to retain your great staff
Successful businesses find the right staff, train them well and then encourage them to stay by constantly developing, stretching, promoting and rewarding them. Invest in your great people and you'll benefit in the long term.

How to manage a sales team - conclusion

Knowing how to manage a sales team effectively is the key to building a high-performance culture within your sales department. Combined with strong leadership, effective management can implement the structures, policies and protocols needed to ensure every team member performs to their highest ability.

Find out more about managing a sales team using Salessound

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