All The Ways That Sales Managers Can Improve Their Sales Productivity
As purveyors of persuasion and masters of the sales game, sales managers navigate the labyrinth of client meetings, sales forecasts, and relentless quotas. They are key figures in an organization, the ones who hold the crucial responsibility of ensuring the success and growth of the sales representatives within their team. As such, sales managers should constantly improve their game. Here’s how.
As purveyors of persuasion and masters of the sales game, sales managers navigate the labyrinth of client meetings, sales forecasts, and relentless quotas. They are key figures in an organization, the ones who hold the crucial responsibility of ensuring the success and growth of the sales representatives within their team.
As such, sales managers should constantly improve their game. Here’s how.
What exactly is the role of sales managers?
Sales managers play a vital role in guiding and directing sales efforts for a specific segment of the organization. They are engaged in a variety of responsibilities that contribute to the success of their sales team and the organization as a whole.
Here is what a typical day of a sales manager can look like and the various essential tasks they typically perform. Brace yourself, sales managers have quite a few responsibilities.
- Recruiting and hiring sales representatives. Assembling a talented and cohesive sales team by identifying top sales talent and nurturing their skills.
- Providing comprehensive training. Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each team member to provide targeted training and mentoring, enhancing their sales techniques and overall performance.
- Assigning sales territories and quotas. Strategically allocating sales territories among team members based on market trends, customer demographics, and sales data. This also includes setting realistic sales quotas to motivate and challenge the team and regularly monitoring individual and team performance to provide feedback and necessary adjustments.
- Fostering the development of the sales team members. In addition to managing day-to-day sales operations, sales managers focus on the development and growth of their team members. They create an environment that encourages continuous learning and improvement through coaching, mentoring, and providing opportunities for professional development.
- Managing sales staff. They oversee and provide guidance to the local and regional sales staff, ensuring their productivity and effectiveness in achieving sales targets.
- Conducting sales training. They run training programs to enhance the skills and knowledge of their sales team members. They identify areas for improvement and provide resources to support continuous development.
- Setting sales goals and track progress. They establish sales goals and profitability targets, identifying key metrics to measure progress towards these goals. They monitor performance and make adjustments as needed.
- Developing and executing sales programs. Sales managers plan and coordinate sales programs to guide the efforts of their sales staff, ensuring alignment with overall business objectives.
- Coordinating sales enablement efforts. They collaborate with other departments, particularly marketing managers, to coordinate sales enablement activities and provide relevant content to support the sales team.
- Analyzing sales data. They analyze sales statistics to gain insights into performance and market trends and ensure that various enablement tools and the CRM are effectively utilized by the sales team, generating actionable information and accurate reporting.
- Monitoring customer preferences and market trends. They stay updated on customer preferences and changing market trends to adapt sales strategies accordingly and seize new opportunities.
- Budgeting management. They are responsible for preparing and approving budgets. They communicate with sales directors and regional sales managers to ensure financial targets are met.
- Pricing strategies. They determine discount rates, bulk pricing, wholesale pricing, and special pricing to optimize revenue generation while considering market dynamics and customer demands.
- Human resources management. They handle various human resources aspects within the sales department. This includes conducting interviews, performing performance evaluations, implementing retention strategies, and managing payroll for the sales team.
The challenges sales managers face and the tools they use
Sales managers face a multitude of challenges in the current business climate. Here are some key difficulties they encounter:
- High quotas. Sales managers often face the pressure of managing teams with high sales quotas. These demanding targets can create a stressful environment and require effective strategies to motivate and support sales representatives in achieving their goals.
A good enablement software helps sales managers track individual and team performance in real-time, providing insights into progress towards quotas and targets. It can also identify areas for improvement, set clear goals and offer performance feedback. By using this tool, sales managers can coach and support their sales reps more effectively to achieve their high sales quotas.
- Uncertainty and change. Sales managers serve as middle managers, navigating their teams through periods of uncertainty and change. They must adapt to evolving market conditions, shifting customer preferences, and changing business strategies while maintaining team morale and productivity.
Sales enablement platforms can help sales teams stay connected and informed during periods of uncertainty and change. They facilitate real-time communication, document sharing and constant content updates, allowing sales managers to keep their teams updated, address concerns, and maintain team morale and productivity.
- High turnover rates. Dealing with frequent turnover can be challenging for sales managers. Employee departures strain the existing team and increase the workload for the manager, as they must allocate time and resources to recruit, hire, and train new sales representatives.
Sales managers can use smart enablement tools to efficiently manage the onboarding and ramp-up process. These tools significantly improve the entire onboarding process by standardizing the process, training new hires with real, tried and true winning playbooks and constantly coaching new reps to help them reach their full potential.
- Lack of organizational support. Sales managers often encounter situations where they receive limited organizational support or guidance. This can make it difficult for them to lead their teams and address complex sales challenges effectively.
A sales enablement platform provides sales managers with a centralized repository of sales content, training materials and resources. It helps align sales teams with marketing and ensures they have access to the right information at the right time, even in the absence of strong organizational support.
- Ever-changing business models and product offerings. The business landscape constantly evolves, with new technologies, market trends, and product offerings emerging regularly. Sales managers need to stay updated and adapt their strategies to sell and promote these ever-changing products or services effectively.
A competitive intelligence software tool can monitor the market and competitors, keeping sales managers informed about new technologies, market trends and product offerings. This empowers them to adapt their sales strategies and pitches to stay competitive and effectively sell and promote the latest products or services.
What makes a great sales manager
To excel in sales management, a diverse skill set is required. Sales managers must possess the ability to balance the intricacies of day-to-day operations while maintaining a strategic focus on the bigger picture. They must skillfully navigate the interplay of diverse personalities and skill sets within their team.
As the driving force behind their sales team's performance, sales managers are responsible for ensuring the satisfaction of both clients and the company's overall success. This multifaceted role demands strong organizational and leadership skills as sales managers juggle numerous responsibilities to create a thriving sales environment.
Tips on how to be a better sales manager
Now it's time to unlock the secret code to conquering the sales kingdom in general and the sales productivity city in particular.
- Define a standardized sales process. A Harvard Business Review study showed that B2B companies with a clearly defined sales process see up to 28% higher revenue growth compared to those that do not.
This means sales managers should establish a clear and consistent sales process that the team can follow. It should cover approaches to prospecting, qualifying, engaging with, and closing customers.
Avoid over-complicating the process, as simplicity is key. Real-time feedback from the manager can help sales reps maintain flexibility and make necessary adjustments in dynamic sales environments.
- Measure team performance. Effective sales managers focus on key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics that track the team's progress.
By closely monitoring performance, managers can identify areas for improvement and make informed decisions to enhance effectiveness. Regularly analyze data, provide constructive feedback, and offer support to enable continuous growth.
This task is made much easier and more precise with advanced enablement tools that track what matters and make all data available and accessible to managers.
- Manage the pipeline. According to a Harvard Business Review survey, sales managers that invest at least three hours per month to manage each sales rep's pipeline experienced an 11% increase in revenue growth, compared to those who dedicated less than three hours.
However, the success of pipeline management isn't solely determined by the amount of time invested. Managers should distinguish between forecasting and managing the pipeline.
While forecasting focuses on late-stage deals, managing the pipeline involves strategizing for future sales development. Sales managers should invest effort in nurturing potential opportunities and building a robust pipeline, ultimately impacting future forecasts. To wit, a productive pipeline meeting should primarily revolve around helping reps to develop strategies that progress deals rather than solely forecasting revenue.
Note that many sales managers mistakenly believe they are devoting substantial time to pipeline management when, in reality, they are primarily engaged in forecasting activities.
If your pipeline discussions revolve around close dates, probabilities, and deal sizes, you’re forecasting. On the other hand, if your focus centers on assessing the overall health of your salespeople's pipelines and guiding them toward successfully closing more deals, then you are actively managing your pipeline in a productive manner.
- Maintain clear and effective communication. Clear communication is essential for sales success. Sales managers should regularly communicate with their team, providing clear expectations and timelines.
When team members understand what is expected of them and the consequences of meeting or not meeting those expectations, they can align their efforts accordingly.
- Recruit top talent. Invest time and resources in hiring the best sales professionals available. Look for candidates who align with the organization's values and culture, and don't hesitate to hire individuals who may be more skilled or experienced than you.
- Inspire and lead. Balance management tasks with leadership. Motivate and inspire your team to excel by setting clear expectations, fostering a positive work environment, and developing yourself and your team members.
- Foster open communication. Create a culture of open communication where team members feel comfortable sharing ideas, concerns, and feedback. Listen actively to your team, show their input is valued, and encourage innovation.
- Prioritize coaching. Make coaching a priority, even if it requires extra time. Regularly guide and support your team members to boost their confidence and drive productivity. Coaching should occur both formally and informally, seizing every opportunity for development.
These days, there are advanced enablement tools that allow sales managers to provide consistent, and even real-time, coaching to help sales reps effectively execute the sales process and improve their selling abilities.
- Address issues in a timely manner. Stay proactive by monitoring leading indicators and identifying trends and potential issues early on. Address minor problems before they escalate into larger obstacles, ensuring continuous productivity and sales growth.
- Time management. Protect your time and your team by setting clear priorities and goals. Focus on revenue-driving activities and eliminate unnecessary demands. Efficient time management allows the team to maximize productivity and achieve important objectives.
- Celebrate success. Recognize and celebrate achievements, both big and small.
Regularly acknowledge and reward the team's successes to boost morale and motivation. Celebrations create a positive and enthusiastic environment that fosters ongoing success.
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