What is sales management?
Sales management is the coordination of people and resources to effectively produce the desired goal. These long term goals include increasing sales volume, contributing to the sales pipeline, and continuing to focus on growing revenue. To achieve these objectives, sales managers have vast responsibilities including, but not limited to: demand/sales forecasting, establishing quotas/objectives, budgeting, organization, recruitment, training, compensation, and sales performance evaluation. In the end of the day, however, the most important role of sales management is not to manage sales, but to manage the people who make the sales.
Why is sales management important?
Sales managers have one of the most vital roles in any organization. Without one, a sales team will most likely become dead in the water. A good manager organizes and drives their sales team towards achieving their goals of increased revenue and productivity. However, there are other areas of impact to demonstrate why sales management is extremely important:
Assist in Product Development
It’s essential for sales reps to maintain relationships with current customers and obviously stay in contact with prospects. As they engage with them, this opens up an opportunity to discuss their company’s product and get feedback on whether or not their product or service is relevant or valuable for their target audience. By opening this two way communication of feedback and advice between the specific people you are aiming to sell to, effective sales management can suddenly utilize sales teams to help contribute to the development of new product features or new offerings altogether.
Can Help Improve the Quality of the Team
An important aspect of sales management is recruiting and building out a successful sales team. Without a plan in place, teams can fail to recruit the right people for the job. Without the most qualified individuals on your team, sales goals and hitting your number at the end of each quarter may seem like an impossible task and a daunting feat. Don’t pull your hair out in stress – make sure you have a solid plan ready to be rolled out.
Sales Reporting Provides Insight for Optimization
Sales reports and data are obviously critical in determining how to move forward and how to plan your sales strategy. Effective sales management knows how to utilize these numbers to provide actionable steps to improve certain areas of the business. For instance, if sales are significantly high online through your web store, but fairly low at your retail stores, this can tell you that your audience is finding your e-commerce strategy to be more effective while your brick and mortar stores need to be readjusted.
The Important Tasks in Sales Management
This area of sales management involves setting the objectives toward which the sales team will work. Some of the individual tasks involved are setting overall sales targets, quotas, demand/sales forecasting and strategy.
Recruitment of Sales Staff
As we discussed earlier, an integral portion of sales management is recruiting.. Sales managers are tasked with managing the personnel they have under them. This extends from the recruitment and hiring of staff, through training and one on one coaching. When it comes to the recruitment of staff, sales managers must analyze the open position, create a job description, and qualify the applicants.
Sales management is also tasked with developing and analyzing KPI’s for their sales team. By understanding these indicators, managers are better able to track and make adjustments to improve productivity. Reports passed up the ladder allow senior management to evaluate the overall heath of sales, as well as the performance of the sales manager individually.
What role does a sales manager play?
Being a good sales rep doesn’t directly translate into becoming a good sales manager. Its is not up to them to create sales themselves; successful sales managers must create sales through developing, motivating, and managing competent teams. Managers must create an atmosphere based around comradely and common goals.
Share the Vision of the Organization
Sales managers must instill a shared, organization-wide vision into a sales team. This vision will give reps an idea of what the company is trying to achieve, and help direct everybody towards that goal. Having a shared vision will light a fire under the sales teams as they move forward.
Communicate the Mission Statement
The mission statement is key to any company attempting to on-board new hires. It creates a path that employees can latch onto coming into an organization. Without clearly stating what a company is trying to achieve, employees will not have clear direction.
Bring Guidance and Principles to the Sales Team
Managers are tasked with providing guiding principles that are understood and supported throughout the entire organization. These principles shape how decisions and overall policy will be made and altered.
Instill the Company Values
A good sales manager must instill the core company values into his or her sales team. These values will guide how they handle situations and make decisions down the line. It is important to hire people who hold personal values that are in line with the values of the company as a whole.
What Skills Do You Need to Become a Successful Sales Manager?
A clear and concise ability to communicate
The ability to clearly communicate with the sales team is an important skill for a sales manager to posses. Managers need to be able to make clear the expectations and goals of the sales teams.
Can get things done
Good sales manager must be able to follow through to completion, and finish what they started. To do this they must, in the first place, be able to set realistic objectives that they know have a high chance of completion. Once they have been set, a competent sales manager must follow through, and not loose track of the overall objective as the process becomes convoluted.
Effective at delegating tasks & responsibility
Being able to delegate responsibility is absolutely necessary. Managers need to be able to spend time on the things that have the most powerful impact, not wasting time on the menial tasks. By passing on some responsibility, they are able to focus on what is most important. Managers must be able to trust the employees that they have hired and trained to do the necessary tasks.
Can think long term, not just the present
Managers must have vision, or the ability to formulate long term plans. They must be able to look further into the future to consider possible opportunities or navigate potential problems. Having a short vision can cause big problems down the line.
Understand how to coach and help other team members
Coaching can be the most important activity for a sales manager. As a result, they need to know how each rep will respond to coaching, and when it will have the best effect. A good coach knows when it is best to provide feedback and when its best to leave the teams alone to do their work.
Ability to work under pressure
Being a sales manager is a pressure filled job, necessitating managers who can handle stressful environments. In the end of the day the performance of the team rides on the shoulders of the manager. A good manager will always be able to think clearly and hold a positive attitude when times are at their most complicated.
Have an eye for talent and potential
It is up to the manager to create a competent team. It is therefore necessary for the manager to be able to spot talented prospects and retain high performers. Along with this, good managers must be able to know when to coach up poor performers or cut them loose.
Can ask the right questions
A good manager has to know what are the right questions to ask, and when. Some questions, such as “what does my sales pipeline look like today”, need to be asked weekly. While others, such as “what are the weaknesses in the pipeline,” need to be ask more on a monthly basis.
Produce consistent results
Sales managers must be able to reproduce positive results on a consistent basis. They must create a repeatable and consistent process that can be followed as the sales teams change over the course of time
Know how to utilize their time
Although this is important for the individual sales manager as well, a good manager must be able to manage (protect) the time of there sales teams. By identifying and eliminating ineffective and time-wasting tasks, managers are able to focus the sales teams on the actually selling.