Business meeting

“Sales management is the process of developing a sales force, coordinating sales operations, and implementing sales techniques that allow a business to consistently hit, and hopefully exceed its sales goals.”

The challenging question for all that are, or aspire to be, in Sales Management is: what is the best way to lead a sales team? There are as many answers to that question as there are days in the year… and then some.

Some Things to Ponder

Being a good sales manager means so much more than being a good sales person. While those skills are very important, there is much more to actually managing a team. You have to be very skilled at identifying new talent, know how to run an effective sales meeting, and how to set and track the progress of goals for your team. Sound easy? Probably not as easy as you might think, but it certainly is not going to be boring.

Hiring a Sales Staff

At some point in your career as a Sales Manager, you will find yourself needing to hire a new salesperson. Once you have finished reading stacks of resumés and applications, you will need to decide who to talk with and who to eliminate. How will you find your next superstar? Keep in mind that the best sale this person may ever make is selling you on them.

The following are some helpful questions in getting people to talk about themselves and talk to you openly — other than “tell me about yourself.”

  • If it appears on their resume that they are not currently employed, “what led you to being here today?” (Keep in mind that most superstars typically do not find themselves without a job.)
  • If employed. “I see you are currently working, what puts you in the market to find another job?”
  • Who is the best and who was the worst sales manager you ever worked for?
  • Give me an example of a time you had to be very creative in order to save a customer or make a sale.
  • Do you regularly read business periodicals or books? What is the last good business book or article that you have read?
  • Do you regularly attend seminars on personal development and or sales strategies? What has been your most recent? What did you learn?

There are many other “outside the box” questions that you can ask in the interview. You want to make it a bit challenging for the candidate. Seeing how they react to these types of questions will give you insight as to how they may react when a customer is grilling them in regard to a product or solution.

What else does a great Sales Manager do? Once you have a great team, you need to have a good knowledge of three other main elements: sales operations, sales strategy, and sales analysis.

Set realistic, but challenging goals. Goals must be measurable. Work to keep your team motivated. You have the task of inspiring with passion and charisma! What makes you get up each day and do what you do? Some of those ideas may help you find the right mix to give your team what they need to be inspired and take action.

Help your team to understand the need of a visual pipeline to stay organized. A visual sequence of activities for each prospect from lead to close. This will also help them take control of their time and to see results on a daily or weekly basis. You cannot control results, but you can manage your activities to achieve more each day. Seeing progress is a great motivator.

The sales analysis process will help you to understand your current efforts and those of your team. What can you do to help them get more insight into their customer base, do they need to make more calls each day, do they need to do more demos or tours of the facility? Using a standard sales funnel approach you should be able to measure the number of deals in each rep’s funnel, the average size of each deal, a close ratio or average of how many deals have been won and even how long it may take to win some of the bigger deals. This system can also help to collect data that will allow you to better understand who your ideal customer might be and how to close faster in order to bring more revenue and profit to your organization. Being a leader is not easy, but good leaders; good sales managers, understand that managing a team of high producing sales people is truly for the greater good of everyone in the organization and very profitable for them, in the end.

One important thing to always remember as someone in Sales Management:

“Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.”

Simon Sinek

Happy selling and successful sales managing to you all!

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