Managing a sales team is hard, no matter whether you're a newbie sales rep or an experienced manager with years of industry knowledge.
While it may seem to require relatively little effort, successful sales team management is a task that requires herculean dedication.
We’ve compiled a short list of the most efficient techniques to deal with a huge responsibility like this, without falling flat on your face.
Best tips to manage a sales team in a modern environment
There are plenty of effective ways to manage a sales team.
Yet, they can only be applied via a case-by-case basis depending on goals, timeframes, sales processes, and other variables related to your business. However, some common steps may facilitate sales team management, having influence on positive management outcomes.
Only hire people you’re sure you can coach
This goes with our point about versatility.
Every individual is different; so is every company. You need to fill sales job openings with people you believe can adapt and adjust to your company values, goals, preferred strategies, and processes.
Otherwise, you run the risk of different sales representatives following different structures, leading to issues with performance tracking and reporting.
It should be also noted that you need to know how to coach sales representatives effectively.
You can coach your sales managers on a large variety of topics and activities, such as…
- How to conduct a demo presentation
- Discovery calls and finding pain points
- Pain point intensification
- How to send email campaigns
To decide what coaching sessions need to take place, it’s helpful to look through CRM data to understand where your team might need help. Try looking for things like…
- Whether there is a low conversion rate from one stage of the sales funnel to another.
- Email campaigns and their engagement statistics. How many prospects opened and reacted to different email campaigns that your sales representatives have sent out? If a sales associate has sent out plenty of emails but hasn’t received that many responses, you might want to conduct a coaching session on email marketing.
- Your representative’s call recordings. If team members keep running into the same problems during calls, it might be useful to look at their wording and tone of voice, as well as the parts of the script during which problems arise.
Set reasonably high goals
High but achievable sales goals will increase your sales team's motivation, driving desire for growth and self-improvement in your sales development representatives.
Achieving 80% of a sales goal that pushes your SDR to its limits is better than achieving 110% of an utterly mediocre and uninspiring one.
Analyse your sales representatives' performance through your CRM system’s reporting feature to see how your sales team performs. Some statistics to look out for are…
- Sales by owner reports, where you can see the number of won deals each of your sales representatives brings you.
- Time in-stage reports that show you how fast your sales reps can move prospects down the sales funnel.
- Goals reports show how much your sales team contributes to the sales goals.
With all of this information, you should be able to decide on KPIs for your sales representatives that push their abilities while being reasonable and attainable.
Establish a straightforward sales process
Providing your team with a formalised sales process ensures that your sales representatives focus more time and energy on activities that bring revenue.
It’s hard for you as a manager to analyse your team’s performance, if deals are only classified as “won” or “lost” - without the ability to be further deconstructed.
It also provides sales representatives with a clear structure to follow, when executing sales activities. This leads to better self-sufficiency.
Define the team structure
Tracking your sales representatives' efficiency in duty requires a manager to know what their duties are in the first place.
The first step to defining the team structure is deciding whether you want your team members to act as full-cycle managers or be broken up into smaller, more specialised teams.
Once decided, you can start laying the groundwork for your team’s structure.
Some common ways to structure teams are…
- Island structure. Each sales representative acts like a full-cycle manager, responsible for their own lead generation and prospecting, outreach, closing, and follow-ups.
- Assembly line structure. Each representative is focused on a specific part of the pipeline, with their main responsibility being to move the prospect further down the pipeline to their colleagues. This usually involves the creation of specialised lead generation, sales development, account executive, and customer success teams.
- The pod structure. Instead of breaking up your team into one assembly line, managers create multiple self-contained pod-teams, each with its own assembly line.
Put extra care into onboarding your new hires
Lousy onboarding results in underperforming sales representatives; good onboarding can turn someone average into a seasoned pro.
Without proper onboarding, new hires end up feeling lost and confused about their duties and responsibilities. They’re left out and detached from the company, the rest of the team, and their manager.
During the first 30 days of your onboarding process, you should try to…
- Build rapport with new hires.
- Introduce them to the company culture.
- Familiarise them with the details of your company through marketing materials, case studies, your mission statement, and the company goals and objectives.
- Familiarise your new hire with the intricacies of your product. Let them use the product, provide them with information about what differentiates you from the competition, and let them learn about some use cases of your product.
- Explain your target audience to your sales hire; introduce them to your buyer persona and point out common pain points.
- Make sure they understand every part of your sales cycle and team structure.
Check out our blog post on “How to onboard your new sales hire for effective work”, which includes detailed checklists for 30, 60, and 90 days of the sales process.
Carefully think through how you assign verticals
Although it may be very tempting to give your best accounts to your most capable salespeople, don't.
It is best to distribute your accounts via a system that’s not oriented around fairness or performance
Some factors in deciding how you assign territories to your team might be…
- Team members' experience. An experienced salesperson might not be motivated by handling small deals, leading to burnout. Newer reps can’t handle bigger accounts.
- Geographical data. Some people communicate better with people from certain cultures. Give the royalist in your team UK accounts to handle.
- Industries. Some sales representatives can build rapport with prospects from certain industries better than others.
Management, not control
It’s your duty as the manager to help subordinates develop their skills, grow their position, and adapt and comply with the company culture.
Being a controlling overseer isn’t a part of those duties.
Authoritarian management styles can cripple the entire sales team's performance due to issues such as…
- Team members feeling undervalued, leading to detachment from the company.
- Fear of speaking up about shortcomings or problems leads to stunted growth.
- Low morale brings down the team as a whole.
- You won’t have time for coaching and development of your team.
In modern working cultures, many professionals don’t tolerate authoritarian leadership.
Having negative word-of-mouth reviews about working at a company can result in you losing access to potential hires.
Look at Renaissance Technologies, the company behind the Medallion Fund. Their management structure makes it look almost like a workers' co-op, where only C-level managers are managers in the typical meaning of the term. All the other workers are treated as equals, and more experienced workers help coach and guide the less experienced workers. Rigid management style might not be the best approach.
Create a fair and transparent compensation system
Not only is compensation an important factor in attracting and retaining professionals, it is an opportunity to motivate growth and the desire for higher performance in sales representatives.
You will have to come up with a compensation plan that…
- Offers a reasonable base salary.
- Has a detailed and understandable bonus structure.
- Offers decent increases in salary, higher up the career ladder.
- Is competitive with the market rates.
- Is allowed for by the company budget.
Common compensation structures in the world of sales are…
- Base salary plus commission. Where a salesperson receives a percentage of the amount of the deal that he completes.
- Base salary plus bonus. Where a salesperson receives a set bonus for reaching pre-defined sales goals.
- Commission-only. Where you only pay your salespeople a commission percentage of every sale they make.
- Gross margin commission. Where a salesperson would be paid based on the profit they bring to the company rather than sales.
- Draw against commission. Where a sales representative gets paid their projected commission in the beginning of the month, with their primary KPI being to “make that commission back”.
Make sure the compensation system is transparent and understood by your employees.
This is achieved through calculating compensation with a CRM system’s data reporting function. Creating a separate view for each manager that updates automatically. Visualise this system for them so they are motivated to improve it.
Use the right tools
No matter how much effort you put into people, skill can only take your team so far. Without the right tools, your sales representatives will have trouble performing to the limits of their abilities, no matter how motivated they are.
To make sure this doesn’t happen, provide the right instruments to your sales team. Use a CRM system instead of spreadsheets, automate parts of your workflow, and use a dialer that has the ability to integrate with the other tools you implement.
To choose the right tools, you as the manager need to do the following…
- Make sure you understand your business processes.
- Assess the sales pipeline to spot opportunities for improvement or scaling.
- See which processes take up the most labour and whether they can be automated.
- Talk to employees to gain an on-the-ground understanding of what needs to be optimised.
- Talk to other departments that your work involves.
You also need to make sure that the CRM you choose is the right one for your business. We have an article that provides you with the information necessary to make the right decisions.
Of course, tools don’t matter if your team can’t adopt those tools as a necessary part of their daily processes. A few things you as the manager can do to aid this process are…
- Opt for an easy-to-use CRM.
- Write a CRM guide and provide employees with detailed coaching.
- Appoint a CRM manager.
- Gamify your CRM system.
Managing a successful sales team with NetHunt CRM
When choosing the right CRM system to manage your team, pick one that fits the management’s needs and the processes your sales team works with.
NetHunt CRM is fully integrated with Gmail, focused on the needs of sales representatives and managers. It offers users full Gmail and G Suite integration and countless other features that elevate your workflow.
As a manager, you can access the reports feature, which allows you to easily compile multiple types of reports and track the performance of the entire sales team and individual members. The Data Studio integration with NetHunt CRM allows you to visualise those reports for more in-depth analysis and compare CRM numbers with other sources of business data.
NetHunt CRM also lets your sales team focus more on the parts of the sales funnel that require focus by taking care of manual work through sales automation functionality.
With our many integrations, such as the LinkedIn integration for lead generation, your sales team can use the full scope of the tools needed for their sales activities from the same tab.
Our suite can help you manage a sales team effectively and get the most out of the other tools you use. Start your 14-day free trial to give NetHunt CRM a try for yourself!
With the knowledge in this article, you can motivate your sales team further, helping them develop into Olympian-level sales representatives in no time!
Table of Contents
Crack the sales formula with CRM Lab
Twice a month, receive actionable CRM content to your inbox.
Telegram channel NetHunt CRM
All about CRM and B2B sales.Join