Successful Sales Managers make Sales Management look easy using these best practices. Performance and results seem to appear effortlessly. What you don’t see on the surface are the 4 key elements used by every successful Sales manager.
Below, we outline the Sales Management best practices in 4 simple steps. Notice we say “simple” and not “easy”. Achieving success in Sales management is not complicated, but is also not easy. It takes time and great effort to put in place the elements needed for enduring success.
The success in Sales Management comes from these four key elements:
1) Sales Management Best Practice – Hire and Retain Talent
Most companies do not have a repeatable, documented process for hiring. It is important for stakeholders to align on the behaviors and traits needed for a Sales Professional to achieve. So often, managers hire in their own image but for a different job than their own. It is better to look at the psychographic characteristics that other successful candidates display and then benchmark those traits when selecting future candidates. The process would include documenting:
The key interests for Sales Professionals
- Enterprising – they enjoy leadership, presenting ideas, and persuading others.
- People Service – they enjoy collaborating, compromise, and helping others. Good empathy and having the knack for bringing people together is important.
- Creativity – they need to take enjoyment in imaginative and/or artistic activities. They like to discover novel ways of solving problems, producing ideas, and designing new solutions.
The key behaviors for a Sales Professional
- High desire for achievement of goals – they want it really bad AND
- High commitment – they are willing to do whatever it takes to win
- They create rapport
- They know their product AND their competitors’ products better than anyone else
- They present well
- They handle objections
- They challenge the status quo
Once you have documented the interests, cognitive strengths, and behaviors needed in the candidate, it is important to assess these attributes in the candidates being hired.
When a candidate fits the position, and he or she is onboarded, it is important to return to their strengths and character traits to coach them continuously towards individual incremental goal achievement.
2) Sales Management Best Practice – Train for Continuous Improvement
Many companies train during the onboarding process but do not have a culture of continuous improvement. For continuous growth, continuous training must also be a part of the company culture.
Eight areas for success should be identified for ongoing training. Cover each of the eight areas one per quarter such that after a two year period, the sales team has completed the entire curriculum and is ready to start again.
Because successful sales professionals know their product inside and out, product training will make up much of the eight training areas. In-depth product knowledge is necessary to separate a sales professional from her competition.
The sales professional must also know the competition’s products. A careful study of the competition is required to ensure Sales professionals do not fall into traps laid be their competition. Without mentioning the competition, sales professionals must be able to inoculate the customer against interference from others.
In addition to product training, a sales professional must understand the challenges faced by his/her customers. He/she must have empathy and be able to anticipate the internal planning discussions held by the customer’s management team. A sales professional needs to know what is being discussed behind closed boardroom doors and speak directly to the customer’s listening.
Finally, continuous Sales training is necessary for every sales professional. In the same way professional athletes receive all manner of coaching continuously, sales professionals must continue to sharpen their sales skills.
3) Sales Management Best Practices – Measure Lagging and Leading Indicators
Many Sales cycles are long. By the time sales have been invoiced and the revenue has been collected, the behaviors that helped achieve that revenue have passed into distant memory.
Successful companies measure the lagging key performance indicators (KPI), but also look for the leading indicators that preceded the lagging indicators. Driving the behaviors that led to the results is the key function of Sales management.
Establishing leading indicator goals, communicating the goals, and then stack-ranking sales people against those behavioral goals is the key to a company’s Sales success.
By contrast, measuring only lagging indicators can lead companies into trouble by focusing only on revenues, a Sales team can lose sight of the behaviors that got them past successes.
4) Management Best Practice – Celebrate Success
Salesforce.com found in their research that 80 percent of employees said that recognition in their careers motivates them just as much as a paycheck. But do company celebrate their success effectively?
There is a discrepancy between what employees want for their hard work and what they receive. Giving out regular recognition provides an effective way to motivate employees. Best practices in this area include:
Make recognition direct and specific. Be clear about what specific action you are praising. General praise, such as “you always work so hard” and “good work this week,” is nice, but it does not let employees know which actions to continue. Recognize specific actions and how they contributed to improving your organization’s success.
Make recognition sincere. Do not rush to implement employee recognition programs without considering why employee recognition is important. The purpose of employee recognition is to motivate employees and show them that you appreciate them. It is not a task to simply check off a list. Find a meaningful way to recognize positive behavior and results.
Accompany recognition with a benefit or reward. Tying some type of reward to recognition motivates your employees to continue their hard work. These rewards do not necessarily have to be cash bonuses or raises. Additional admin support, public recognition, a designation on their business card, a paid day off after a long project, a free lunch paid for by the company, or a gift card to a local restaurant that your employee loves visiting are all ideas that can work.