20%. That’s the revenue growth difference sales management can make to a company’s bottom line, as per CSO Insights’ study of sales practices. Another study found that companies that invest in sales management training see a 50% higher win rate on sales opportunities than those that don’t.
Sales management is about more than just hitting targets and closing deals – it's about setting up systems, processes, and a culture that pushes for excellence and constantly strives to improve sales operations.
Whether you're a small business, or a sales manager at an enterprise, investing in sales management will pay off. Here are the top ten sales management practices you need to make sure this happens.
1. Define team and individual goals and measure achievement
As obvious as this practice sounds, you’d be surprised to know that 23% of companies surveyed by Hubspot don’t even know if their sales force achieved their quota – even though the benefits of setting goals and measuring progress are well, obvious.
An often ignored aspect of goal setting is creating targets in silos. Encourage team members to develop personal goals that align with the team's larger goals. objectives. This creates a sense of accountability, motivating team members to take ownership of their role in achieving their goals.
Additionally, encourage team members to develop goals that challenge them to learn new skills or take on new responsibilities, promoting personal and professional growth.
When it comes to personal growth, sales reps often struggle with prioritizing the growth goals to focus on. Effective sales management also included helping sales reps with prioritization and timely support – something sales coaching can help with.
2. Invest in sales coaching
In addition to setting SMART goals and tracking progress, a high-impact best practice is providing regular coaching to sales team members. Companies that implement sales coaching realize 16.7% greater revenue growth annually.
Research by Aberdeen Group found that sales reps who receive at least three hours of coaching per month surpass their goals by 7%. Another study found that sales reps who receive regular coaching outperform their peers by 19%.
In addition to the obvious impact on revenue and performance, sales coaching is critical for sales management as it helps
- Identify and replicate best practices
- Surface issues proactively
Make sure to
- Create avenues for one-on-one manager-led coaching as well as peer coaching.
- Incorporate skill coaching (focused on sales reps’ selling skills) and deal coaching (focused on account/customer-focused contextual timely coaching on deals).
- Coach sales reps on handling different customer personas as well as typical stages of the sales process, such as discovery calls, demos, objection handling, etc.
- Use sales coaching to set consistent team-wide expectations while giving them individualized support to match them.
3. Streamline the sales process with structure and consistency
Companies with a formal sales process experienced an 18% increase in revenue growth, compared to those without one. That’s not to say that you need to have a one-size-fits-all approach for your sales team.
What you do need is to give your team the underlying structure, strategies, and systems they need to excel at their job. A clear and organized sales process helps your sales reps better navigate each stage of the customer journey – from prospecting to lead generation to deal closing. It also helps identify bottlenecks and areas for improvement, enabling sales managers to make data-driven decisions to optimize the sales process.
Create templates and playbooks for each stage and process and ensure that sales reps are trained on these practices. Ensure that you make meeting check-ins, pipeline reviews, and coaching sessions a part of their schedule.
Having all team members aligned and on the same page will lead to better expectation management, increased productivity, and better customer relationships
4. Create a structured feedback loop
65% of employees wish that they got more feedback from managers. That explains why companies with effective feedback processes see 14.9% lower employee turnover rates than those without such processes.
Effective sales management needs a feedback loop that
- Gives individual sales reps targeted feedback on their performance as well as
- Enables them to provide feedback on sales processes, manager support, and team dynamics.
This creates a culture of open communication, continuous improvement, and higher win rates.
To ensure useful feedback, leverage feedback anonymously through surveys or feedback tools to help team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts.
5. Encourage healthy competition
Encourage healthy competition among sales reps by leveraging contests, leaderboards, and incentives for the team.
Make sure to switch up contests regularly to avoid having the same winner. For example, you could have monthly contests with different winning criteria each month. Sales reps can compete on metrics such as maximum improvement in sales skills, shortest cycle length, maximum meetings booked, and best meeting efficiency.
6. Leverage technology via sales tools and data
Sales managers need a diverse, in-depth, and up-to-date range of data and insights to make informed decisions, optimize sales processes, and improve sales performance.
Technology and the use of specialized tools is the best way to make this happen. Some of the tools to consider for sales management are
- Customer relationship management software
- Sales readiness and enablement tools
- Sales training and learning management tools
- Call recording and conversation intelligence tools
- Sales data analytics tools
By leveraging these tools, sales managers can gain insights into customer behavior, identify areas for improvement/optimization in the sales process, and track the effectiveness of sales activities.
Also check out this detailed guide to sales tools that focus on sales coaching for sales management: 12 sales coaching tools you should consider
7. Ensure continued learning
Gartner’s research found that typically, B2B sales reps forget 87% of the information they learn within a month of training.
The only way to make sure initial training is effective is to reinforce learning through periodic sales training as well as sales coaching lessons.
If you’re confused about how much time to spend on sales coaching, here is what the data suggests. 61.4% of companies that run effective coaching programs dedicate over an hour per rep week to coaching a sales rep.
8. Surface trends and worrying behavior patterns early
A key aspect of effective sales management is spotting issues in customer conversations as well as sales rep performance (or behavior) at the right time. This includes
- Regularly reviewing sales data can identify seasonal trends, market shifts, or changes in customer behavior.
- Monitoring sales reps’ performance for signs of declining performance or negative behavior patterns.
By proactively surfacing and addressing these issues, you can recognize issues before they blow up, and prevent bad habits and practices from being solidified.
9. Identify the right talent and skills for the team
Losing an employee and hiring someone else can cost 1.5 to 2 times the person’s pay. Identify the best kind of salespeople suited to your current goals. Create a list of attributes you need for an employee to succeed in your sales team.
A few things to look out for include attitude towards feedback, listening skills, empathy, tact, consultative skills, domain expertise, time management, ability to handle pressure, etc.
10. Capture and share customer insights from sales conversations
By capturing and analyzing customer insights, sales managers can better understand customer needs and preferences, which can inform sales strategies and lead to improved sales performance.
To capture customer insights from all sales conversations, use specialized tools like call recording or conversation intelligence software to automatically capture key insights.
Encourage and train sales reps to ask open-ended questions to encourage customers to share their thoughts and concerns. Conduct regular meetings with the sales team to review customer insights and discuss any common themes or areas for improvement.
Additionally, these insights can be used to align sales and marketing efforts. Organizations that have aligned marketing and sales teams are 67% more efficient at closing deals and could see over 200% more revenue.
If you're looking to boost your business's sales performance, you need to actively plan for, and invest in sales management. Make sure you set clear, SMART goals, make data-driven decisions, and invest in coaching for your team's professional development.
With a positive team culture that fosters collaboration, competition, and growth, technology that can make your team's job easier, and a strong foundation of systems and processes, you’re well on your way to greater results, increased customer satisfaction, and long-term success.