For companies that have a sales team, the management of that department is crucial to the success of the business. Effective management usually improves team cohesion and performance. Sales managers are responsible for guiding the sales team and establishing effective practices. In this article, we explain what sales management is, describe how it functions and discuss the role of a sales manager.
What is sales management and its importance?
Sales management is the organization of salespeople and resources to meet and surpass specific goals. Usually, sales management involves developing the sales team, providing appropriate training and resources and assessing the productivity and success of the team and procedures.
Sales management is a vital component of the sales process. A sales manager helps keep the sales team focused on specific goals, using established techniques and tactics to identify new clients and close sales. With specific processes and procedures in place, the sales manager can easily evaluate the effectiveness of salespeople, techniques and tactics.
What are the five functions of sales management?
The five functions of sales management are:
Sales management begins with established goals. To create effective processes and procedures for the sales team, the sales manager must set specific, quantifiable goals. These goals help inform the strategies and tactics for the team to use when engaging with prospective clients and closing deals.
Identifying and developing talent is the key to sales success. Part of the sales management process is in recruiting qualified and skilled salespeople and developing those salespeople to meet the team’s goals. Team unity is also a valuable part of sales management, so the sales manager should ensure that the sales team operates as a cohesive unit.
Sales managers develop and help implement specific sales processes to increase sales. Along with the development of effective procedures, the sales manager should help the sales team understand and use the sales strategies productively.
The sales manager should assist their team with each step of the sales process as needed. By overseeing day-to-day sales activities, the sales manager ensures that the sales team implements the pre-selected sales tactics, processes and strategies correctly and that these protocols are effective.
Gathering data and creating reports is the best way for a sales manager to measure the effectiveness of their sales management. Reports help determine if the sales team met established goals, which tactics were effective and where there are areas for improvement or redesign.
Sales management strategies
Sales managers can use a multitude of sales management strategies to help individual salespeople and entire sales teams use their skills and resources effectively. Here are a few of the most useful strategies:
Set clear compensation expectations
Sales managers must ensure that all members of their team understand how their compensation structure functions as a part of the sales team’s overall goals. For example, the company might offer a higher commission to salespeople who sign new clients than to those who make sales with existing clients. This might entice some members of the team to focus their efforts on prospective customers rather than current ones, leading to poor existing customer relationships. Clarify client and customer expectations as they relate to the compensation structure early on.
Use goals and quotas
Team goals and individual quotas are important metrics for sales managers to track. Work with each member of the team to set appropriate individual goals regarding client conversion, total sales and skills development. Create departmental goals to ensure everyone is working together to improve the team’s overall metrics.
Impart effective training
Give your team training opportunities to improve their sales skills. Take the time and resources necessary to develop talented employees in the department. When recruiting and hiring new employees, offer intensive onboarding training to ensure the new team members understand their roles, expectations and responsibilities prior to meeting any clients.
Motivate team members with incentives, recognition and relationship-building. Incentives might include a prize for the salespeople who surpass their individual goals each month or for the whole department if the team reaches a departmental goal. Recognition is also an effective motivator independently. Take time to publicly praise salespeople for doing skilled work. Finally, ensure your team members know that you care about them. Create authentic and professional relationships with each team member.
Connect the department
Sales managers are often responsible for connecting salespeople to upper-level management. Ensure that you’re regularly communicating with your supervisors and your team and sharing valuable information with both parties.
Use data from sales calls, client meetings and completed sales to establish a variety of useful reports. You can use these metrics to establish productivity, compare sales from month to month or year to year, identify effective sales tactics and update impractical procedures.
Take the reports that identify effective and weak processes and use them to make more efficient strategies. For example, if the data shows that making cold calls to prospective clients has a low rate of return, consider trying a different strategy, like sending personalized emails to prospective clients, instead.
What is a sales manager?
A sales manager is the leader of the sales team. The sales manager develops salespeople, creates, implements and assesses procedures and establishes a connection between the sales team and other branches of the company. Sales managers often start as sales representatives and are promoted to the position of manager. Others have a background in talent development or management with little direct sales experience.
Duties and responsibilities of a sales manager
Sales managers prescribed duties might vary somewhat depending on the industry and size of their team, but overall, they share a few common responsibilities:
Resource management: Sales managers are responsible for managing resources like funding and staffing to meet departmental goals.
Strategy development: Sales managers establish team-wide processes and strategies for guiding new clients through the sales funnel and maintaining relationships with existing customers.
Lead generation: Sales managers help gather new client leads and distribute those leads to the team.
Company promotion: Sales managers help increase company awareness by attending industry events.
Team motivation: Sales managers keep salespeople motivated and focused on meeting goals and maintaining productivity.
Result delivery: Sales managers are ultimately responsible for obtaining results and meeting goals.
Decision making: Sales managers must make team-wide decisions and demonstrate leadership in divisive situations.
Report creation: Sales managers should create reports tracking various team metrics to ensure productivity is high and the team meets goals.
Record keeping: Sales managers need to maintain administrative records for future reference, including budgets, staffing and other valuable information.