We’ve reevaluated the strategies and tools needed for successful sales management as more companies settle into a new working environment for the long haul.
One thing that hasn’t changed: sales managers are still instrumental in the growth of company revenue. They observe sales practices at ground level, set goals, implement strategies, and track the numbers.
The potential for exponential revenue growth lies with the sales manager’s direct line to sales enablement and sales operations. Productivity plays an important part in driving sales. The more efficient you can make your agents, the more potential there is in each day.
Effective leaders will also develop a team’s interpersonal intelligence, setting up systems and tools to identify the meaningful context. They’ll surface coachable moments, training sellers on what to listen for and how to respond. Sales managers should continually reflect on past conversations and customer notes, using the data to develop their team’s sales strategies.
The human connection from events, meetings, conferences, and face-to-face interaction needs to be replicated online. Many teams have now moved completely digital. Today’s sales managers will need to help their agents foster genuine, value-add relationships with prospects and customers across a multitude of digital channels. Intelligence from past interactions can guide agents to deliver a personalized experience at scale.
Sales managers can make a positive impact on effort, enablement, and efficiency. They can also run into challenges if they’re not aren’t enabling teams with the right systems and tools to drive accurate metrics, and coach through teachable moments. Managers are critical to team culture and retention rates. To help your managers stay on track, here are 10 tips for 2021.
1. Set Clear Goals: What is the target? What are the KPIs to get there?
It’s helpful for your team to know the numbers, both collectively and individually. Setting realistic, achievable goals is motivating. On the other hand, setting targets your team fails to hit again and again will bottom-out morale.
There are many frameworks for setting short-term effort-based goals. Messages sent don’t equal dollars, but you need both at-bats and effort to make progress. One proven, widely-used and time-tested method is SMART. Sales managers should make every effort to set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-related. Another personal favorite is OKRs. (Let’s expand just a few sentences. Famous at Google, used widely for both personal and professional growth.
Figure: How to write SMART Goals
No matter what system of goal setting and strategic planning you choose, it’s critical to recognize that your team’s goals may change, especially now in a volatile world economy. Set goals but reflect on them regularly and allow for some flexibility with understanding.
While your goals for the whole team should be ambitious, it’s wise to choose individual goals carefully. Sometimes even top-performing team members with extensive field experience may need easing into a new digital-first role.
You’ll also want to make sure sales agents are focusing their attention on sales. Sometimes, to keep costs down reps are given additional roles that take up chunks of their time. Keep your salespeople selling—creating fans and expanding your market. Digital sellers have both an opportunity to close deals and establish a communication channel that strengthens your brand.
2. Track KPIs: Gamify Your Sales Management Strategy To Boost Motivation
Tracking key metrics is vital to accelerate growth. But numbers have a poor reputation for being sterile and robotic.
Gamification is creating a buzz in the industry for its powerful motivating influence and contribution to a sales culture. Sales managers are working with gamification software to set quick challenges and team contests, igniting ambition, and encouraging collaboration. Align competitions with your team’s KPIs and drive your strategy forward.
However you motivate your team remotely, KPI tracking relies on accuracy. Manual data entry at the best of times can lead to human error. Place agents in a home environment with several more distractions and the margin of error increases. To resolve this, more businesses are turning to sales management automation. Cut down on free text cells and sweep up data automatically to increase accuracy.
3. Automate Repetitive Sales Management Tasks: Enable Knowledge Workers
Productivity is key and smooth processes make life easier, but sales shouldn’t feel like an assembly line.
Automation allows operations that don’t rely on human interference to run in the background. This frees up your agents to focus on doing what they’re best at—building relationships and guiding leads down the funnel.
Streamlining is not just about solving for speed and getting agents on the next outreach. It’s about creating the mental space that allows your agents to make human connections.
Technology has matured to reliably handle routine tasks, enabling a new age of knowledge workers. Increase revenue per rep and free your agents from manually dialing phone numbers, entering time stamps and activity notes, typing up product interest, outcomes, follow-up tasks, etc.
4. Hire The Right People: New Audience, New Skills
Hire the right people for your target audience. Ideally, you want to be hiring reps who can relate to the people on the phone. They don’t have to be former C-suite officers, but they should understand their target’s motivations and limitations.
Furthermore, set up your people in the right environment. Focus on capable, adaptable new hires, and deploy a sales enablement scorecard. For example, due to the remote working boom, new sales agents should have excellent virtual skills and the ability to ask the right questions on the fly, from any communications channel.
Environments shift all the time. Build a team that can shift with them.
5. Continue Sales Management Development: On-going Training and Sharing Best Practices
Most companies will train their reps when they join a new team. New reps need to know about team-specific sales strategies, people to follow, seminars to take, and company procedures. But don’t stop there.
Continue to foster your sales reps’ growth, in live training, and within your team meetings, for the best results. Harvard Business Review reported an alarming 80% of what’s learned in curriculum-based training is forgotten within 90 days. Continue skill development to continue growth.
6. Simplify With Better Sales Management Tools
More is not always better. Many businesses have sought productivity solutions by piling new tech onto agent laptops. Overnight reps had to become experts in Zoom, CRM, chatbots, security software, email sequences, etc.
Not only is there a clear and present danger of overwhelm, the more tools your reps need to manage, the more disruptions they’ll encounter.
Your sales stack should reduce sales management and admin time, not compound it. If you can operate within a single platform, like Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics 365, you can guide processes without feeling disorganized navigating between several platforms and tools.
If distraction is the enemy to real revenue efficiency and predictable pipeline creation, then we as leaders must reduce the cost of context switching between applications and simplify our reps day to day workflow.
7. Set Up Mentors: Delegate Support within the Team
Embrace the knowledge economy within your team. More experienced salespeople and those who have been in an Inside Sales role for longer can be an asset. Keep a lookout for candidates who would make great mentors for other team members and leverage any mentorship programs your company has. Log individual strengths and connect those reps with members who need a little push in that area of specialty.
You can also utilize mentors in your team meetings. Setting aside time for others to present the strategies that are getting results can do wonders to motivate your team. Advocate for healthy transparency and knowledge sharing within your team.
8. Make A Good Start: Streamline Start-of-Day Processes
Enable your sales team to get started quickly and on the right foot by warehousing what they need in a single location. Once again, it comes back to simplifying their operations. Design your team’s start-of-day processes for usability and pool resources so they’re easy to find.
For example, sales managers can support productivity by prescribing the exact right next steps to take and what message to deliver for each lead, so reps don’t have to fish around for contact information or context. Furthermore, help agents gain access sooner by utilizing automated outreach technology, such as automatic activity logging, data capture, sentiment and outcome identification.
A more advanced version of this would be to develop dynamic campaigns that move leads and contacts, or active opportunities in and out of several engagement sequences based on their interactions and the data present in your CRM. Think of the power at your fingertips if you could set a series of campaigns up based on last activity, recent website visits, recent content downloads or better yet, the outcome of the last engagement. This type of control allows managers to guide and prescribe reps on what to do and when to do it.
Related: How To Manage a Remote Sales Team
9. Time The Transitions: Snag Back Time Where You Can
Salesforce found that reps only spend 34% of their time selling. Agents simply can’t do their best selling with their attention spread across several platforms.
Weed out areas of distraction in the transition between activities. To make the biggest impact, begin by reducing the number of platforms reps manage between touchpoints. Then, reduce the number of clicks and keystrokes.
You can add single-click dispositions to track interaction outcomes such as:
- Contact Established
- No contact made
- Message back in a week
- Left / sent message
- Demo booked
- Meeting Scheduled
Track the processes that produce the best results and automate them across the entire sales force.
10. Shadow Your Team: See How the Machine Runs
You can learn a lot by shadowing your reps to see the sales management process in full. Sometimes, salespeople don’t know what they don’t know, so they can’t ask for help. Making observations and feedback a regular part of your week can build your team’s confidence and skills.
Look out for where you can improve processes, redirect runaway conversations, and point out potential upsells.
Remote working has changed the way managers can observe their teams. With the right sales management tools, such as Conquer’s whisper technology, you can listen in on calls and even feed lines to your reps without the customer knowing you’re there.
Sales managers have the power to make or break the pipeline. Focus your energy on goal tracking, streamlining, and coaching to keep your salespeople selling successfully.
Take a test drive of Conquer.io to experience what completely CRM-native revenue engagement really feels like.