This trend graph shows the popularity of sales management as a discipline and search term in the previous 12 months.
Sales management majorly focuses on the company’s continuous growth. Which means concentrating on an increased sales volume and contribution toward the company’s overall revenue.
The sales management process involves the following steps –
- Careful budgeting
- Sales forecasting
- Understanding the market demand
- Creating achievable sales goals
- Training the sales team
- Their performance evaluation
Sales management is a business discipline which focuses on the practical application of sales techniques and managing a firm’s sales operations. It is an important business function, as net sales through the sale of products and services and resulting profit drive most commercial business. – Wikipedia
Every individual department is connected to sales in one way or the other. Yet, sales management on its own has a whole different meaning to it.
Businesses hire sales professionals like sales reps and sales managers. Successful sales management enables these sales professionals in combining various sales strategies for achieving desired sales goals.
- What is sales management?
- Aspects of sales management
- Benefits of sales management
- What is the importance of sales management?
- What is the objective of sales management?
- What is an ideal sales management process?
- Sales management process model
- Sales force management
- Emerging trends in sales management
- Sales management statistics
What is sales management?
A layman sales management definition would go something like this. A process where businesses
- develop their sales force
- plan coordination of sales operations, and
- implement sales techniques
All of these above activities are done for achieving the sales targets.
Every department in an organization indirectly focuses on driving sales.
So, sales management meaning can be the segment of business directly interacting with prospects for converting them into paying customers.
A well-planned sales management strategy helps sales organizations generate satisfactory revenue and boost their sales performance.
Sales organization must have clear procedures in mind for monitoring sales process in line with creating the metrics for tracking it. They can do so by developing a sales management strategy.
This also helps pinpoint the pain areas in the sales process.
Also, it helps them get rid of the issues in their sales process with proper consulting and training.
The best sales management practices involve proper planning, execution, staffing of the sales team and the completion of their sales goals.
Let’s get on with it, shall we?
Part One: Planning the sales process
Here we will define the sales management process for you.
Create a picture of the audience that you will be targeting to sell the product.
Let’s say you are selling furniture.
You have three categories of customers
- influencers, and
A married couple with their fourteen-year-old kid visits a furniture store.
The mother decides to go for a wardrobe with a study table and bookshelves.
The child will be the influencer and will suggest the father get a specific type of study table.
The father is the final buyer.
Knowing the availability of your audience in both online and offline channels is a must.
The geolocations where your presence will be required, the selling methods and tools play significant roles too.
So, businesses must know their customer category, their availability and their location for successful sales.
By leveraging advanced technologies like AI in sales, companies can gather valuable insights and optimize their approaches to better serve their customers.
Part Two: Hiring sensibly
After designing the sales plan, hiring people for your sales team is your next vital move.
This is vital since the competency of your team would reflect on your entire company.
Some factors to be remembered while hiring a sales team:
- You need lesser people for a localized market.
- These people must be familiar with local dialect and surroundings.
- Team members working at multiple locations need to be familiar with their areas.
- Traveling jobs require people who are willing to do the same.
- Team members comfortable with flexible work timings are also important.
Before fulfilling the hiring quota, make sure you test all your candidates selling aptitude to create a growing sales team.
It is also essential that your team is well-trained about your product/service.
Such pieces of training help them know what they are selling and how they can sell it against the competition.
Part Three: Designing your sales strategy
Set monthly or quarterly targets for your salespeople and ensure that the targets are achievable and realistic.
Most importantly, there should be an alignment between your sales targets and company goals.
Having a transparent process lets your team members know that you are not unfair or biased against any of them.
Regularly analyze their performance and have meetings regarding any difficulty they might be facing.
Part Four: Analyzing your sales efforts
Measure every data related to your sales process.
By doing so, you can have insight into how things are working out for your team.
Analyzing your sales efforts helps avoid significant mistakes and assists in developing an optimal sales process for your sales team.
Create sales reports that will also help your top management make relevant decisions about the future and direction of the company.
Part Five: Forecasting your sales results
Analyze your sales patterns and match them with industry trends.
Doing so helps you predict the number of sales you can generate in your next sales cycle.
Based on the deals present in your sales pipeline, easily forecast the revenue.
Using sales forecast feature of a sales CRM, tweak your sales plan.
You can combine your sales plans for various sales methodologies and push the strategies.
Sales forecast allows you to understand the audience and also identify unsuccessful sales strategies.
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Aspects of sales management
Let’s have a look at the key aspects that must be present in your sales management process.
1. Sales operations
Many organizations realize a highly productive sales team is the backbone of the company.
They help establish a direct connection between their product/services and the customer.
Hence your sales team must be provided with all the necessary resources for becoming a revenue-generating unit.
2. Sales strategy
Build a productive team.
Set clear tasks for them, at an individual level and as a whole.
Completion of these tasks helps your sales reps achieve productivity.
It also means that your sales reps are successfully converting leads into paying customers.
This is where the creation and management of sales pipeline come in.
It sort of acts as the path and guide towards successful closure of your deals.
3. Sales analysis
Reporting helps you in understanding how all your strategies are working towards your company’s success.
Having in-depth information about your strategies will help you make the required changes.
Actionable sales metrics are measurable performance indicators.
They help your business’s sales operations run successfully.
They also help you identify the flaws in your operations.
Advantages of sales management
Practicing sales management techniques helps in speeding up your sales cycle and increases your chances of closing a deal.
The benefits of having a perfect understanding of sales management:
- Your sales team knows what to do, help them set their plans accordingly.
- A clear plan of action keeps your sales reps on track and makes their work easier.
- Sales managers can set clear goals for the team.
- Sales managers understand what to expect from the team.
- Analyzing team performance becomes easier.
- More accurate sales forecasting due to the availability of past data.
- With proper sales plan, top management can create actionable long-term plans.
- Top management can easily derive the overall performance of the company.
Proper sales management helps the overall organization but majorly affects these three segments:
A sales manager is the person who manages and leads the sales team.
He is the one looking over your sales operations and making sure that every process is being executed properly.
Well-executed sales management strategies provide better clarity.
It also helps sales teams in planning and implementing company-wide sales targets.
This ultimately helps them achieve their sales goals.
Which means revenue that keeps the organization afloat and ahead of your competition.
The sales rep
It is known that sales is a tough job, and for becoming a successful salesperson, effective sales management is essential.
The rep represents your company and products, establishing direct contact with potential customers using various sales closing techniques.
The truth – sales management builds the confidence of your salesperson and gives them better visibility regarding their role and work.
An efficient sales management process will help you provide a better experience for your customers.
These customers will be more inclined towards purchasing your product or services.
Effective sales management also helps businesses create better goodwill for themselves.
The importance of sales management
Sales management offers stability and steady sales growth to businesses.
Efficient sales management helps businesses –
- Set sales goals.
- Monitor sales performance.
- Discover current market trends.
- Unearth profit-hindering drawbacks.
Here’s why sales management is important for any organization.
1. Setting sales goals
A goal properly set is halfway reached. – Zig Ziglar
Sales organizations care a lot about numbers.
Their favorite numbers are calculated in revenue and profits.
Not a hidden fact right.
There is one more fact here!
They need to set sales objectives for achieving these numbers.
Setting sales goals allows businesses to push the sales team to work together towards achieving them.
Sales goals are also the best tool for defining the interrelatedness of organizational goals.
Reps understand that their unity towards achieving the sales targets successfully will contribute towards the company’s revenue.
Your sales team members are always motivated because of achievements.
Having a list of achievements enable businesses to plan bonuses for star sales performers.
2. Monitoring the sales performance
Quality performance (and quality service) starts with a positive attitude. – Jeffrey Gitomer
Managing sales and your sales team without monitoring the sales performance is not productive.
It pushes your sales team backward.
They work in the dark, without knowing where their sales efforts are going.
Without knowing the positive contribution of their sales efforts, it gets difficult to motivate the sales reps.
Sales performance monitoring also helps sales teams understand where they are lacking.
It enables the managers to rectify the errors and enhance sales performance, ultimately.
3. Improving sales team with training
You are your greatest asset. Put your time, effort, and money into training – Tom Hopkins
Monitoring sales performance is the first step toward setting training goals. It helps the sales team learn new ways of improving sales.
If your sales team knows the performance gap, they will be able to rectify the same at the correct moment.
Training the sales reps helps them.
It moves them towards successful prospecting, improving their presentation skills, and closing more deals.
This, in turn, helps businesses achieve their revenue targets more productively.
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The objective of sales management
Businesses have underlying objectives.
These objectives are necessary as they define the path that businesses must take for achieving their goals.
Sales management too has some important objectives that are executed with the help of sales managers and executives.
These are mainly:
- Achieving sales volume.
- Contribution towards profit.
- Pushing business towards continuous growth.
The top management must outline the strategies for helping the sales team achieve their sales management objectives.
Providing the sales team with a well-marketed product helps them meet customer expectations. This also enables them to make a successful sale.
Sales management involves continuous communication between sales, marketing, and top management for the achievement of the aforementioned objectives.
Let’s explain these objectives.
1. Achieving the sales volume
Sales volume is the number of units sold within a reporting period. – AccountingTools
For every sales department in any organization, achieving sales volume is the number one objective.
When product sales begin, it needs to penetrate the market in such a manner that it reaches all targeted regions.
The product penetration level is adjudged based on the sales volume achieved via the sales approach.
2. Contribution towards profit
Sales – Cost of Sales = Gross Profit
Gross Margin – Expenses = Net profit
With successful sales comes company turnover and the turnover results in subsequent profits.
Sales is a natural contributor to company profit.
3. Pushing business towards continuous growth
Penetration of the target market and continuous growth are the responsibility of the sales department.
When a business becomes stagnant, its growth chart slows down, beginning the downward spiral journey resulting in a shutdown.
Salaries need to be paid off, incurred costs have to be paid off, and then there are the shareholders.
A company without continuous growth has thin chances of surviving the competition. It needs to keep innovating itself, even when the product is doing well in the current market.
The job of marketing is to take continuous feedback regarding the product. They also need to keep the public aware of the innovations you are bringing to your products.
If the sales team fails to strike gold, then the chances of growth become too bleak for the business.
The ideal sales management process
“Approach each customer with the idea of helping him or her solve a problem or achieve a goal, not of selling a product or service.” – Brian Tracy
It is a well-known reality that every business is unique and so is their business process.
Every business must have its own sales management mechanism.
An ideal sales management process comprises of these four basic stages. Let’s discuss them in detail to give you a general idea.
Stage 1. Lead generation
“Customers don’t care at all whether you close the deal or not. They care about improving their business.” – Aaron Ross
Lead generation is a marketing process.
The interest in a product or service is stimulated and captured for developing a healthy sales pipeline.
For modern businesses, digital channels are being used for lead generation based on new online and social selling techniques.
This is the first step before leads are qualified and passed on to the sales department for conversion.
There is a new buying process, where potential customers are doing their research before short-listing their choice of companies.
Digital marketers have the sole responsibility of creating the digital presence of their company.
To be found by the prospect is more important than blasting them with your email campaigns!
Stage 2. Lead qualification
Lead qualification is the process where you qualify the leads to be the perfect fit for your product or service.
Yet the definition of a “qualified lead” varies from company to company.
Marketing qualified lead
The marketing team of a company is responsible for generating leads.
Marketing qualified lead is qualified by the marketing team to be a perfect fit for a company’s product or service.
The marketing team uses more than one approach for engaging the prospects.
It can be simply filling up a form for downloading an eBook or white-paper or free-trial signup.
Sales qualified lead (Opportunities)
In this stage, a sales rep conducts final due diligence and determines whether the lead has the required budget and intention.
The lead’s requirements are put against the company’s offering. The sales rep also determines if the lead/prospect is a decision-making authority or not.
Stage 3. Lead conversion
“Sales is an outcome, not a goal. It’s a function of doing numerous things right, starting from the moment you target a potential prospect until you finalize the deal.” – Jill Konrath
The process of turning a lead into an opportunity/deal, converting prospects into customers.
Usually, leads are generated from inbound or outbound marketing activities.
Someone who is interested in your product or service has taken the desired action on a landing page. Or you got some information – email address, phone number, etc. This is the first step where your lead is generated.
Now the task of lead conversion starts.
You have a CRM in place that assigns your lead to a sales rep.
By using one of the communication channels, the sales rep tries to discover the prospect’s needs and problems.
Here, the sales rep acts more as a consultant than typical sales reps who generally run behind the sales figure.
The successful conversion is the result of a seamless, well-informed, and communicative sales approach.
Lead conversion rate is the percentage of leads who become paying customers after going through your sales funnel.
Stage 4. Deal closing
“Care enough to create value for customers. If you get that part right, selling is easy.” – Anthony Iannarino
This is the stage where the sales deal is won or lost.
At this stage, sales reps must set a tentative closing date for each deal. Doing so helps keep a close eye on the state of each deal inside their sales pipeline.
In this stage, if the deal is won it gets moved to the payment stage.
However, not every day is sunny and beautiful, and sales is no different.
If a deal is lost, the sales reps jot down the reasons for the loss, to be used for future deals.
Stage 5. Post-sales
“Don’t celebrate closing a sale; celebrate opening a relationship.” – Patricia Fripp
The relationship between a prospect and the company does not end when the deal is won.
Such a personal touch also helps bolster a stronger and closer client-business relationship.
It is starting off a lasting relationship.
Won deal’s contact information must be handed over to the customer success team. The customer success team stays in touch with your client.
It also keeps them updated about the new product features and new product launches.
The most important responsibilities of the customer success team are –
- Guiding clients
- Answering questions
- Offering assistance whenever customers need
Such displays of extra care and adds a personal touch to the whole customer experience. Apart from that, it helps the client in the early adaptation stage.
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Sales management process model
This covers all the skills and attitudes required in a sales rep for being a successful sales professional.
Good at closing deals, maintaining a lasting relationship with the client and keeping a check on them after the deal is finalized.
The process covers the key steps every successful sales manager must deploy.
- One-to-one interaction with sales reps.
- Conducting weekly or daily sales meetings.
- Managing sales team performance.
- Other related reports, etc.
Performance covers both past performance and forecasting.
Sales data is collected regularly.
A comparison of the sales performance on a monthly or yearly basis takes place for setting future targets.
Performance covers efforts put in by sales team members for the amount of sales activities that have been carried out.
It looks at those skills which delivered results.
It also includes how good each salesperson is at key selling skills.
Speaking briefly, these three factors may seem like changing the relations between customers, sales reps and managers.
However, in these individual stages, coordination the major layers are top management, managers and sales reps.
When we talk about people, it’s the workforce that gives their best for achieving sales results. And they do it by grabbing deals and increasing the number of paying customers.
When we mention process, it involves top management that creates the entire sales management process. They hand over this process to the sales managers for managing sales reps, their activities, and their quotas.
When we talk about performance, it means the sales metrics set by the managers to measure the activities reps have performed. Based on the sales metrics, managers derive the input sales reps have made on certain deals or towards the prospects.
Combining these three factors makes it convenient to create a sound and measurable sales management process.
Sales force management
An effective sales force management is key to successful sales for businesses!
Sales management is incomplete without a competitive sales force and its management.
Managing skillful sales force allows businesses to stay on top of their deals and keep them moving inside the sales pipeline.
Sales managers are born out of top star performers in a sales team.
However, the skills for closing deals is not the sole requirement for becoming a great sales manager.
Sales team management is crucial for the company’s sales goals and revenue.
Let’s discuss the tips that will help businesses manage their sales force in a better manner.
1. Always keep your team result-oriented
The sales team must comprise of salespeople that are always driven by the determination to excel and keep achieving their sales goals.
Creating a transparent working environment for your sales force allows them to trust each other and work together.
2. High but realistic goals are the key
When sales managers set sales goals, they give enough push to their sales reps to work a bit harder.
Achieving 60-70% of a high goal is better than achieving 100% low-tier goals.
3. Make training a priority
The dynamic nature of sales will always push new strategies out of the market and require the inception of new ones.
So is the requirement of training your sales force for facing modern buyers and adapt to the new market trends.
If you inculcate training the sales force every three or six months, they will never settle and become rusty.
The last thing any business wants is a laid-back sales force.
They must keep adapting to the ever-changing dynamics of the sales industry.
4. Segmentation of the sales team
Working with a group of sales reps for a certain period helps sales managers easily identify their strengths, weaknesses, and preferences.
Based on this understanding they can then assign leads and roles.
- Is a sales rep better at creating lasting client relationships?
- Does a sales rep have better in-depth knowledge of a particular market or sector?
- Is a sales rep better at closure but not so good at prospecting?
- One sales rep is a seasoned professional now, while the other is still learning!
The roles and responsibilities of your team members must differ, as it allows the manager to have a well-segmented team with the following specialties:
- Better inbound lead qualification
- Solid outbound prospecting
- Faster closure rate
- Continued customer interaction and management
5. Incentivize your sales force
Sales has the capability to burn out your most efficient sales reps too. Incentivizing the sales force allows businesses to keep their sales team motivated for the continuous achievement of the sales targets.
Sales managers or business owners must have a clear compensation package in place.
However, there will be additional rewards and benefits for maintaining the productivity of the sales team.
Salespeople are mostly motivated by either money or recognition. Remember that you must be creative with your incentive plans.
We are sharing a few incentive plans that don’t necessarily involve offering direct cash:
- Take your team out for a retreat.
- Give the star performer a day off.
- Mention star performers at your weekly team meetings.
- Buy your sales team lunch when they outperform themselves.
- Share their success stories with the whole organization via newsletters.
Emerging trends in sales management
For the companies of every shape and size, sales is the lifeblood.
As a business, sales will face failure or the threat on many fronts.
As long as the sales keep generating the desired revenue, it keeps the business up and running.
It gives a chance to keep refining the various processes.
There are some predictions regarding the sales management trends that we would like you to know.
1. Use automation and AI for improving results
AI tools will also improve the ability to prescribe sales activities (what steps to take next) based on customer and prospect data. – Jared Filler, Sales VP of PandaDoc
The development on the technology front is happening regularly and shows no sign of stopping.
Every business must deploy AI and automation for improving the effectiveness of its sales team’s efforts.
2. Invest In SDR training
Sales has been reaching a better and new frontier.
For achieving success in new surroundings, businesses must equip their sales teams with the best and the smartest sales tools.
Apart from that, they should inculcate the culture of providing continuous training of using these tools in an effective manner.
3. Account-based selling will continue to rise
Better customer profiling with the help of CRM software is going to increase account-based selling.
CRM software has enabled businesses to collect crucial business and process-related data that helps them create a detailed customer profile.
Using the data in the form of an understandable report will allow businesses to re-prospect their older accounts.
It will also enable them to take a more personalized approach.
4. Video will become a reigning promotion method
As per the research, videos that are of shorter duration (shorter than 90 seconds) average a 53% viewer retention rate.
More small-duration videos can be used inside marketing emails and chat windows for bringing in more audience and viewing time.
5. Chat will become a key channel in customer interaction
Live chat allows faster communication with customers and prospects.
In a time where the patience of the general crowd is running thin live chat comes as a huge relief.
A study from Forrester (paywall) suggests that 44% of consumers say that instant online service is important to them.
On-demand availability through chat will be a huge selling opportunity for businesses that deal with omnichannel markets.
Imagine a customer who is inspecting the brick and mortar store while chatting with the sales representative.
Such interaction will push the prospect towards making their first purchase for sure.
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Sales management statistics
Research done by Ohio University’s Dr. Adam Rapp has this result to share with CFO of every business.
- Bottom 25% of sales managers performed at 76% of their target.
- Middle 50% of sales managers performed at 99% of their target.
- Top 25% of sales managers performed at 115% of their target.
The same study looked at the percentage of reps achieving their sales quota
- Bottom 25% of sales managers had 47% reps who achieved their quota.
- Middle 50% of sales managers had 48% reps who achieved their quota.
- Top 25% of sales managers had 65% reps who achieved their quota.
- Companies that have a formal sales process experience a 28% improvement in revenue.
- Reps spend only 32% of their overall time selling, the remaining time is spent on admin tasks.
- 45% of sales teams blame administrative tasks for their hindered productivity.
In another research conducted by Vantage Point and the Sales Management Association, they looked into the sales management training practices of 213 companies with 25,800 sales managers. Here is the result.
Businesses that allocate less than 25% of overall sales training budget toward management training perform around their goal.
Companies that allocate 25-50% of overall sales training budget toward management training outperform their goal by 6%.
Businesses that allocate more than 50% of the overall sales training budget toward management training outperform their goal by 15%.
Ideal sales management system for a streamlined sales process
“Sales is not about selling anymore, but about building trust and educating.” – Siva Devaki
An all-in-one sales management tool – CRM
The current market scenario requires every business to be smart, productive, and lethal at the same time.
With various management tools that are available in the market, businesses are bound to get confused.
This is where smart and intuitive CRM comes in. Although it is part of the same market, Salesmate has various features that simplify the business process for various enterprises.
The smart and intuitive sales pipeline management helps decision-makers get the eagle-eye view of their various deals and prospects.
The sales intelligence and forecasting tools make it the all-in-one sales management tool startups and SMEs.
Analyzing the key sales metrics
Metrics are useful numbers as they help businesses evaluate the sales team’s performance.
They can analyze the sales process for detecting patterns that work successfully.
Intelligent sales CRM makes sales manager’s job easy by helping them acquire and maintain these important numbers.
The intuitive dashboard allows sales managers to easily view and track sales metrics.
They can easily focus the resources on growing sales.
Sales managers can use filters inside the CRM for tracking essential metrics like –
- Total number of deals
- Deal closing ratio
- Prospect response time
- Opportunity win rate
Having such information in front of them allows sales managers to successfully plan and control their sales process.
Forecasting of sales
Sales managers have the task of presenting the sales numbers achieved in the past and the probable future figure.
Providing such information is not based on hit and miss or guesswork.
A CRM software comes in handy for sales managers to forecast the probable number of sales.
Assigning activities to reps
The delegation of tasks is crucial for sales managers.
Distributing contacts, deals, and companies to each team member are critical for providing an equal amount of opportunity.
As it is a really tiresome task due to the manual labor involved, using CRM workflow automation becomes all the more important.
Whenever an activity, deal or contact gets created inside your CRM, workflow rule will ‘trigger’ automatic assignment of a related task to your team.
Once a workflow rule is set, sales managers need not worry about that task.
The CRM software not only automatically assigns the tasks, but also sends reminders to your sales reps via emails and in-app notifications.
This way, sales managers can check if their team is meeting with their deadline or not. Doing so allows sales managers to help save valuable sales time.
Sales pipeline tracking
CRM software enables sales managers and business owners to take a closer look at their sales pipeline.
It enables them to understand how much they are able to engage prospects and customers.
Sales pipeline management is an important yet time-consuming task.
It gets tougher when the required measures are not taken by the top management at the right time.
Tracking the sales pipeline allows the top management and sales managers to understand the difficulties and roadblocks their sales team members are facing and at which stage it is occurring the most.
It also helps in optimal resource management of the business.
Having the problems laid down enables them to create proper countermeasures and help the sales reps overcome these shortcomings.
Sales management enables business owners to efficiently streamline and manage their entire sales process by enhancing the overall sales cycle.
A competitive business will gain an edge over their competition when all the segments of its business process are working well, together!
A cloud-based CRM helps create insightful reports of outbound activities.
It helps sales teams create and retrieve structured data into reports to provide in-depth information on activities like
- emails, and
Apart from this, your business requires smart tools for managing sales resources.
Managers and business owners can create, view and track this data in one place.
They can guage their top performance and keep it as their standard sales management playbook.
If you’re a small or mid-sized business that is still struggling with its sales management, go for our free trial. Our sales management software offers features that come in handy in managing your sales.
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