The Objectives of Sales Management
There are many objectives and goals for sales management and the importance of each will vary from business to business.
Business to business sales can be complex, with many variables and whilst the obvious objectives of revenue, profitability and growth are important it’s easy to argue a case for the plethora of other objectives such as customer satisfaction, team morale, employee retention.
Effective sales management is the key to running every successful sales team. When sales management is executed correctly, the rest of your enterprise benefits.
Sales managers are responsible for inspiring teams, leading by example, maximising profits and providing customers with the best experience to make sure they return for more.
We’ve resisted the urge to include the all to common piece around smart goals, because we assume your past all that and looking for something more meaningful.
So, we’ve listed below what we believe to be the main objectives of sales management, enjoy.
1. Sales Plan
We’ve listed sales plan at the very start because of it’s importance. Without a plan it’s difficult to track progress, meet or exceed your goals and align your sales team around those goals.
Quite simply, the sales plan ensures that not only is everyone on your company boat rowing in the same direction, it ensures that the boat itself is going in the right direction.
As with any objective or goal, the sales manager should be measured on the execution of the sales plan.
For some reason the majority of companies do not have a sales plan and miss out on the many benefits they bring.
2. Sales Strategy
Strategy is listed in the dictionary as “an approach” and although it sounds simple coming up with the best approach or strategy to how you gain maximum market penetration with the budget available to you is never easy.
At best if you nail your sales strategy sales will take off and at worst you will find that sales become like wading through treacle. An eternal hardship that consumes any profits you dreamed of as it sucks the life from your business.
Once you’ve agreed on a strategy you need to review this on a monthly basis and adjust as required.
Beware however, of changing your strategy before it has had a chance to mature or you might just end up going round in circles.
Once you’ve decided on your sales strategy the next challenge is aligning all your resources including the sales team and executing on that strategy.
3. Reporting and Metrics
Before you start to implement and share your strategy and sales plan you will need to give some thought as to how you are going to measure your progress.
Data is the new oil and Sales reporting is an essential part of the modern sales managers day to day activities.
Your reporting system should tell you everything from how well your reps are performing on a daily basis, to the cost of customer acquisition on your latest sales campaign.
Reports will tell you which areas you are succeeding in and areas need your attention. You should draw up a list of baseline sales metrics and then from there you can measure progress towards your targets.
In almost every scenario, you will be asked to generate Management Reports for your board and these will include things like your current sales funnel/sales pipeline which will provide information such as how many live deals you currently have in your funnel, the average size of each deal and the average length of the journey through the funnel.
It’s critically important that you not only can generate the right reports, but that you can interpret the results in a meaningful way.
4. Sales Performance
There is no one individual who has as much influence over sales than the sales manager.
Every day the Manager sets the bar between what is acceptable and what is not, in terms performance from their team.
They are responsible for not just managing, but also the training, coaching and development of the sales team.
Every salesperson wants to sell, every salesperson wants to be part of a winning team and the sales managers that succeed are those that focus on 2 things:
- They do everything they can to help salespeople sell more
- They do everything they can to develop their salespeople.
Unfortunately, as the manager has the power to make everything a success, they can also be architects of their own failure.
5. Key duties of the Sales Manager
Sales managers are tasked with developing sales teams, coordinating all operations within sales departments and identifying and implement the right sales techniques to deliver success.
Although the aim is to meet sales targets, it’s not uncommon for these aims to be surpassed.
The right sales management processes can give you a substantial edge over your competitors and ensure your company is thriving rather than simply surviving.
As a minimum the sales manager should address the following areas in their plan. Strategy, Process, People, Channels, Technology, Customers and Leadership
6. Team Morale
Morale is extremely important when it comes to building a winning sales team. The more inspired and confident your team are, the more they will achieve.
This is why it’s so important to ensure each member of your team feels listened to and respected. The easiest way to do this is by including them in the sales planning wherever possible.
Provide real-time information on as much as possible including things like the exact costs to the business to employ them, the profitability of your sales and how many deals they need to close to breakeven in terms of their own cost to the company.
Transparency is essential, so make sure each member of your team knows how well you’re currently performing.
What’s also important in terms of morale is being completely fair and not having any personal favourites in the team.
It’s normally easy for managers not to have favourites, however, many find it more difficult to deal with disruptive sales reps and often ignore them rather than look to resolve the problem.
Often times the most disruptive sales reps can be a top performer but you will still need to let them go if you feel they are damaging the overall morale and productivity of the team.
It’s incredibly important to foster a positive workplace culture where workplace friction is addressed as soon as it arises.
7. Setting realistic but ambitious targets
When it comes to setting your sales targets it’s vital to strike a balance between being ambitious and being realistic.
If your targets are unrealistically high, your sales team and your sales team fall so far behind that they don’t believe they can hit those targets, they will quickly become demotivated.
We recommend that you include your sales team as part of the planning process to help you set your sales targets.
By doing this you are much more likely to get buy in from the sales team and as the manager, you can still guide the team to create targets that are challenging.
Unrealistic targets will only serve to damage morale substantially and in turn, this will lower the overall performance of the team.
Managers should guide and coach their team members through the entire period of the targets to help ensure they remain on track and re-motivate them if they begin to lose confidence.
Managers typically have lots of experiences and skills that they can draw on from when they were a salesperson that will support their sales reps.
8. Building a sales funnel
Creating a sales funnel that continually is topped up with new, high quality sales leads is one of the most important objectives of sales management.
A sales funnel, also known as a pipeline is used to outline each step a customer takes throughout their journey towards making a purchase.
In B2B sales the salespeople are responsible for moving the deals or opportunities through the sales funnel.
There is nothing more demotivating to sales reps than the struggle to fill the sales funnel with new leads. It’s therefore important that you work with your marketing team to ensure a continuous flow of good quality sales leads.
If you are using Sales Development Reps (SDRs) to generate their own sales leads then you must give them the strategies and tactics to generate those leads.
Tactics like cold calling and cold email campaigns do work but they on their own it is a slow way to scale your business. As the sales manager it’s your responsibility to break the entire sales process down into easy, manageable stages.
Sales funnels enable salespeople to remain organised and in control, especially when used in conjunction with a good CRM system.
With the right CRM dashboards in place Sales reps can easily see the progress they have already made towards their sales targets.
This in turn will inspire them to continue focussing on moving deals through the sales funnel.
9. When can I expect results?
In our experience every overnight success has taken years of hard work to get there. With that said, you should see early indications of success in months, not years.
It’s important to manage expectations and collectively agree what success looks like in the initial phases.
This is why we are such advocates of creating a sales plan that everyone can align themselves behind.
Your sales plan should identify what we call the lead indicators rather than the lag indicators for success and you can start tracking them immediately.
It’s unlikely your sales management will deliver exceptional results immediately but with planning, patience and persistence you will slowly turn the ship around.
Trial-and-error can play a big role in helping you create the right sales process for you.
Even when you start seeing the results that you’ve been aiming for, you should always be prepared to make amendments as customer behaviours and requirements, technology and markets change.
10. Motivating your Sales Team
As a sales manager, you will be tasked with overseeing things like data, technology, processes and sales pipelines which you may or may not find easy.
However, often the biggest challenge is people management and listening to your team is very important.
It’s essential to ask your team what drives them and what their personal goals are and then tie them into your own business objectives.
Not every member of your sales team will be motivated by money alone, so try to find out what else drives them and why they were interested in a career in sales in the first place.
It’s also essential to deliver additional support for those members working remotely during any lockdown period.
Some team members will be comfortable working from home, whilst others will prefer to be out in the field visiting customers and working in a busy office environment.
11. Do great salespeople make great sales managers?
One problem many companies encounter is that not all great salespeople make a fantastic sales manager.
Being a sales manager requires a whole host of different skills not required by salespeople, and it may take time to start seeing success once you’ve moved from making sales to overseeing them.
Most of the key tasks assigned to sales managers are strategic versus the tactical skills required by salespeople.
For example, data analysis is hugely important for every sales manager, as is planning, strategy and people management.
In addition, identifying realistic goals, hiring the right salespeople, creating incentives, arranging ongoing training and learning and matching the right kind of guidance to specific individuals in your team are all important.
12. Learning & Development
It’s easy to overlook training as a Sales Manager because there never seems to be any free time for developing your team or indeed yourself.
Training falls into the category of important/not urgent and because of this it often gets overlooked. In nearly every case the salespeople who don’t want training are those that need it the most.
Learning and development starts by hiring the right salespeople and only recruiting those who are driven and determined with great people skills.
The team that you inherit may be very different from this and it’s your objective as the sales manager to improve the team that you’re working with over the coming months or years.
It’s also important to seek out coachable people as these people are great learners and will continuously improve given the right support.
You will encounter people that already have good sales skills but seem unwilling to continue learning or taking feedback and this can become a problem.
These people not only don’t want to learn but they don’t want others to learn either and can sabotage and undermine your leadership.
Under these circumstances, as long as you have done everything possible to try and support these people if they still refuse then you will have no alternative to letting them go.
If you’re able to offer real-time information that you can display in the workplace, you should certainly do this as this creates incentives and keeps your salespeople’s eyes on the ball.
Transparency is essential, so make sure each member of your team knows how well you’re currently performing.
Sales managers are arguably the single most important part of your sales team and the right manager will help you achieve outstanding results when they build an exceptional and focussed team that they take the time to support.
They will ensure the organisation has the right people, structures, technology and sales processes in place progress which can be tracked and clearly visible for all the stakeholders.
By ensuring team members remain willing to learn and committing to learning more themselves, sales managers can deliver real success, even in the most competitive markets.