Good sales management isn't easy. There are dozens if not hundreds of moving parts in play in any team, and it's your job as the leader to make sure everything is dealt with, or at the very least accounted for. Spotting coming changes to how you'll need to sell based on industry news, recognizing that there's a flaw in your sales pipeline, keeping morale high and turnover low...these are all part of good sales management. Keeping up with it all can quickly become overwhelming, if you don't take everything one step at a time. In this article, we'll be discussing five sales management tips you won't want to miss, tips that should ease your burdens and push that bottom line just a bit higher.
Set realistic goals.
As much as bringing out the potential of your team matters, limitations actually hold the position of "most important thing for a sales manager to understand". Setting realistic goals for your team gives you better morale returns, better performance returns, and better trust development than underwhelming or impossible expectations. That means giving your team goals that will take a bit of work to reach, but are always within their grasp. It is fine to succeed some of the time and fail others, just make sure you calibrate properly for your team and treat such failures as what they are-mediocre performance, not substandard.
Rely on a mix of hard and soft data.
Managers who depend entirely on their instincts, what their team tells them, and other soft data points suffer in the long term. Managers who only look at the hard figures their metrics software gives them and make decisions solely on the concrete and the easily definable aspects of sales will suffer similarly. 'Insight' based on an exclusive data source can hardly be considered insight at all-explore all avenues in gathering information, and your sales management will improve drastically. Having two employees who look complementary on paper work together shouldn't result in disaster because you didn't know they dislike each other. Employees you like shouldn't be given tasks that hard data would reveal them ill suited to. Pay attention to everything.
Apply the right incentives.
Incentives go a long way in sales management, but you need to be using the right sort of incentives. There are two places a manager can go astray in this area of sales management: the behaviors they incentivize, and what they incentivize with. A failure in either area means lost resources, lost potential, lost profits.
To incentivize the right behaviors, you need to understand what the right behaviors are. That means poring over data, separating correlation from causation, and figuring out just what you want your team to be doing. Your team will optimize its behavior based on the incentives you offer-what's best for the bottom line will come second, unless you make them one and the same. So choose WHAT you incentivize well.
The second may be an even more common place for sales management errors. Cash incentives barely work, but they're the most popular by far. Studies show that incentives that aren't closely associated with work and good behaviors, like cash, just don't sustain a real effect on workers. Benefits, vacation time, and simple acknowledgement of excellence incentivize performance far better than cash.
Avoid negative approaches.
In sales management, it may be tempting to 'make examples' of major failures, but targeting individuals for public humiliation, chewing people out, and threatening employees with unemployment all result in extreme turnover, reduced morale, and a lack of faith in sales management. Stay positive, stay friendly, and keep your team performing.
One-on-coaching is king.
Nothing beats one-on-one sales coaching for improving team performance. Group training works well, too, but one-on-one shows overwhelming gains in every study on the subject. That means you need to understand sales at the ground level and stay educated, too. It's vital for optimizing your sales management.