According to research conducted by The Brooks Group, a mere 31% of sales managers feel confident about their sales teams’ ability to meet their sales goals. There are several reasons why that might happen. Ironically enough, one of the chief causes for that is the lack of proper sales management.
Without a strong leader with a sensible plan, it’s hard for salespeople to smash sales records. Quite the opposite, members of the sales team will feel lost and unable to do their jobs. That’s why we’ve been going over some techniques you can use to develop a proper sales management style. Be sure to read the first part of this article before checking out the last three suggestions on how to improve your sales team operations!
4. Use technology as your ally
Following the activity of a sales team can quickly become a daunting task, especially if you have numerous salespeople in your department. That’s when technology comes in. Using a series of systems and digital tools can boost your sales processes, providing insights into your operations and giving you specific features to closely monitor the team’s progress (or the lack of it).
The customer relationship management (CRM) platform is a key system for sales teams everywhere. In there, you can store, track, and follow the entire relationship with your customers, all within a centralized database. Moreover, you can expand your CRM to include automation features and AI.
On the one hand, automated solutions can relieve your sales team from rote and boring tasks (such as inputting data into the system or classifying the lead types). This can also give your sales team more time to focus on closing deals and approaching new customers.
On the other hand, using artificial intelligence can take your sales processes to a whole new level. That’s because you can use an AI-driven algorithm to evaluate your customer history and detect trends and patterns. You can later use that data to inform your sales strategy. You can reshape your operations to better meet underserved client needs and you can even expand your team to take advantage of untapped business opportunities.
As it always happens with technology adoption in a business environment, you shouldn’t decide which tools to adopt unilaterally. Instead, try to include the sales staff in your decision. Ask them what they think about integrating new technologies into their processes and make them feel heard and appreciated. Explain why you want to adopt new tools and ask them if there is some tool they’d like to use.
Technology can be an invaluable ally for businesses everywhere, especially when it comes to sales. So, be sure to analyze the available options and keep an eye on emerging technology. It could help you get an edge over your competitors.
5. Embrace a people-first culture
History is filled to the brim with stories about sales teams pushed to close sales no matter what. Oftentimes, this results in salespeople being burned out, losing their motivation, or, even worse, resorting to shady tactics to close a sale. Needless to say, you need to motivate and encourage your team by any means necessary.
At Sales Clover, we knew from day one that the best way to do so was to embrace the people-first culture. We aim to provide our sales team with everything they need so they can exclusively focus on their work. This has us offering flexible hours and schedules, professional development opportunities, and all sorts of rewards.
Embracing the people-first culture implies understanding that team members are more productive and efficient when they are happy. And that happens when the company they work for makes them feel heard and valued. Providing what I’ve just mentioned and some of the things I described in the sections above is a great way to start fostering that kind of corporate culture.
But you also need to go the extra mile. You need to see your salespeople for what they are: people! That means treating them with respect, and understanding their individual differences. It’s also about learning how to approach each team member, with their personalities, styles, and preferences in mind.
This also implies a different way of motivating your sales team. While offering rewards and arranging healthy competitions can work as great motivation, it isn’t enough. You need to lead by example. Show your best self when facing challenges, and share the joy when everything is going as planned. Displaying traits like having a positive attitude, being appreciative of everyone’s work, being transparent, and taking personal responsibility for whatever happens shows the team that you’re just one of them. Even when you manage them.
Finally, feedback is a cornerstone of the people-first culture. Establishing channels and processes for feedback is key to developing your sales team. Your team needs to know what they are doing right (along with the encouragement to keep doing it) and what they can improve on. Providing negative feedback can be a delicate task, so always be constructive and clear about what you’re saying.
6. Define and communicate clear metrics
Finally, good sales management should always keep an eye on performance indicators. How can you know whether you need to improve your processes if you don’t have any data related to them? Bear in mind that 23% of companies surveyed in the Hubspot report don’t know if their sales teams are meeting their sales targets. That’s insane!
So, the work with metrics starts with you, the leader. You can go about this in different ways, but you mainly need to define which things you’re going to measure and how you’ll measure them. You’ll obviously want to focus on total sales. Still, you’ll also want to measure the number of leads divided by part of the funnel, lost opportunities, and the number of contacts, among many other things.
The metrics need to work on two levels. You need to measure your team’s performance as a whole, and of each salesperson. In that way, you’ll know if you need to adjust general things that affect the overall performance or if you need to spend more time with specific team members to help them meet their quotas and improve their game.
Splitting the metrics like that will also help you be fairer with your team. You can’t expect a junior salesperson who just came into your company to generate as many opportunities and close as many deals as a top performer who has been working with you for years. Individual sales goals help you keep things more realistic while showing that you take into account each individual in your team.
After deciding which metrics to use, you’ll also define goals for everyone to meet. That’s a challenge itself! Setting the bar too high might demotivate your team members, while setting the bar too low will affect your business.
My advice on this?
Aim higher than reasonable when setting goals, knowing full well that your team can meet your objectives as long as they work hard.
Keep in mind that you might have to adjust your metrics as time goes by. This is mainly because you might have missed key factors affecting performance, operations, or individual team members. Don’t worry too much about that, though. It’s best to course correct as you move forward than to stubbornly keep them out of some sense of pride.
Proper sales management can truly deliver
Leading a sales team and managing it on a daily basis is a difficult task. There are plenty of things to consider and countless factors that might affect performance. Luckily, there are several things you can do to make sure that your sales team delivers what you’re expecting from them. Building a winning team, designing a carefully thought-out plan, and establishing clear metrics might seem obvious, but, as you can get from this article, there are aspects that you might overlook. That’s why it’s always important to review your actions.
More importantly, I believe a key factor here is embracing a people-first mindset. Gone are the days when you could mindlessly push your sales team to sell more and more (not that it was acceptable to do so in the first place). Today, you really need to start seeing your sales team as an essential collaborator that will help you achieve the goals you imagined for your company.
So, leave Gordon Gekko to inspire edgy teenagers and start rethinking how you’re managing your sales operations. You’ll be glad you did it.