How to Manage Your Sales Team

22 July 2014

Getting the best results from your sales team is vital for growing your business as far and as fast as possible. However, sales work is a fast-paced and stressful job so you’ll need to manage your team carefully to keep them well organised and highly motivated. Here are 9 of the best ways to ensure your sales team is delivering the maximum potential for your business.

1. Recruit based on your business needs. To achieve maximum sales, you’ll need to put together the best possible sales team in the first place. Every business is different so when selecting candidates, look out for the skills that reflect the particular needs of your company. For example, you’ll almost certainly want to hire people with previous experience in sales and sales negotiation – especially if you’re a new business – and you may also prefer candidates who already have contacts among your customer base. A person with prior experience of telesales may be important if the job involves a lot of cold-calling.

2. Attitude is everything. While you can provide training to increase knowledge, it’s hard to train the right attitude and you’ll never achieve your targets with unmotivated employees. Look for candidates that are self-motivated and enthusiastic about their work and your brand. While a highly motivated salesperson can be a great business asset, a poor one can seriously damage your business so choose carefully.

3. Retain the best sales staff. Once you’ve put a good team together, make sure you hold on to them. Offer a competitive salary and commission package for employees that can not only hit sales targets but regularly exceed them. For newer businesses, a pay structure of low basic, high commission salary will help keep fixed costs down while motivating high performers. Offering a company car and other perks will also help you hold on to your best sales staff. However, some sales activities – such as customer care or order taking – will not generate commission. For these roles, you will need to offer a basic that reflects their importance.

4. Provide proper training. The more training you provide about your business, products and market, the better able your team will be to deliver results. A full induction for new recruits should provide an overview of your company’s sales strategy and policy, as well as a firm understanding of your company’s standard terms and conditions of sale. As well as group training, provide one-on-one coaching sessions to hone expertise and build confidence among your sales team. Role-play exercises can help to improve customer contact, negotiation and listening skills.

5. Monitor progress regularly. Ensure your sales people are making steady and significant progress as a result of their training by keeping a careful eye on their performance. Sit in on key meetings with individual sales staff to observe them in action and provide useful and objective feedback afterwards. In addition, you should implement quarterly performance appraisals to monitor progress and tackle problems such as underperformance or lack of incentive. Always be positive and look for ways to improve performance.

6. Provide the right tools. Make sure your sales team has all the equipment it needs to do the best job possible. This will include not only a laptop and mobile phone but a good database and contact management software for your high-value customers. In addition, provide the right kind of sales materials, such as standardised contracts, call sheets and proposal forms. Promotional material such as brochures and price lists should also be supplied together with telesales scripts and other supporting materials.

7. Set appropriate targets together with your team. Although you may be inclined to set high targets for your team, making them unrealistically high can be a demotivating force and lead to poorer performance. Negotiate a little with your team to ensure everyone is engaged and motivated before agreeing realistic monthly targets based upon your sales forecasts. As well as setting targets for individual accounts, you should set them for individual team members and different sales teams. Don’t raise targets on the basis of previous strong sales performance – that’s like punishing your team for their good work. If you’re looking to raise targets, do it based on the overall performance of the company instead.

8. Organise your team with a clear sales strategy. Explain your sales objectives and discuss how you want different accounts to be handled. In addition, make sure everyone understands matters such as pricing and sales margins and agree on the amount of time that should be allocated to different areas of the business. You should also allocate individual responsibility for specific areas – such as different accounts, products or territories – and ensure communication lines are clear between different sales people handling the same account. Using sales support and customer service employees to provide effective backup will help you maximise your sales team’s productive time.

9. Keep them motivated. Support your team with whatever they need and provide strong incentives to drive performance. Reward doesn’t have to be a financial remuneration – simply offering praise and congratulations can be a powerful motivating tool. Look out for danger signs that could affect performance – such as stress and low morale – and find ways to tackle them, such as regular one-to-one meetings. Your sales team needs to be valued on both an individual and team level so find appropriate ways to recognise individuals as well as build team strength. Planning social events such as a department outing can help with team building, and keeping a performance league table should encourage healthy competition.

A good sales team is one of the most important assets of any business so make sure you’re getting the most out of your sales people. Providing the right balance of individual reward and responsibility is the key to hitting high targets, retaining the best sales people and growing your business.



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