15 Tips on How to Effectively Manage a Sales Team

1. Ensure you have a One on One sessions with every team member every week

This is top of my list. Everybody is different, and each sales person faces different challenges. Selling can be a lonely job and to have a 15-minute brainstorm each week on where to focus and what activities need to be completed is the most valuable time any leader can spend. The return on investment from the leaders 15 minutes per week will mean that the sales person will be truly more productive the next 40 – 45 hours. So, if you want to know that your teams are always focused on the job, this is clearly a must for any good leader.

2. Be Specific and Document any Focus Areas

When you have your one on one sessions, or in fact any time you have agreed an action with a sales person. Make sure you are specific on what is required and deliver a SMART objective that will be reviewed. If it is not specific a sales person will not action it as they are always doing a million other things so need clear direction. In addition, if it is not documented they will more likely forget. The review is key and once the sales person gets used to the reviews the delivery of required actions will speed up.

3. Don’t Sell and Compete with the Team

This is a real Middle East concern. Many companies believe that the sales leader is a cost to the business if they don’t bring in revenue themselves. With smaller teams this ‘may be’ ok, but with bigger teams their job is to manage and lead, if they end up competing with the team there is no development taking place along and many other issues arise due to lack of alignment.

4. Lead by Example

I guess this is the case for any form on leadership but I think it especially important for sales leaders. If you are asking your team to do something that is also part of your role, make sure you are on top of it as well. There are two sales topics that come immediately to mind as I write this. The first is TIMING. If I meet a sales leader and they are always late, I know their sales people will be late as well. The consistency with this fact is amazing. The second is CRM system usage. If the leader lives and breathes the CRM the sales team will as well. There are too many leaders that think the CRM is for the sales team and not for them but the visibility provided is key to driving the business and developing the team.

5. Follow the Adult Learning Principle

When we are young we absorb information and love to take on new ideas. As an adult, the theory is we have so much experience that we only really value and take onboard new ideas if we develop the conclusion for ourselves. This is the logic for a normal adult, I believe that you can multiply this by 10 for a sales person. Some have been doing the role for years and years, mostly on the road and left to their own devices. They are not going to listen to somebody that comes along ‘TELLING’ them a better way of doing things. Therefore, we need to coach our sales team by asking questions and getting them to find the answers for themselves. It takes practice but becomes straight forward over time and really reaps long term rewards.

6. Motivation

Although I’m an out and out salesperson, I believe that Human Relations really runs a business. If you have the right people and they are motivated, then everything else readily falls into place. The key here for the leader is to continually give the sales team a ‘pat on the back’ for doing something well. Don’t only speak to them when you want something or are addressing an issue. Also make sure that others are aware when you are praising one of the team. It’s amazing the mileage you will get from this

7. Team Building

Still talking motivation, team building exercises and events are another key to success. To date I still can’t put my finger on it, but any team I have ever managed where the team members and leaders all got on well, have always been over target. It could be as simply as a lunch or dinner, or some sporting event or even a structured team building session. Whatever it is, have them regularly and make sure that everyone attends. Get feedback and explore options on what type of things the team would like to do.

8. Don’t Overwhelm a Sales Person

If you are trying to get a team member to take a new approach, learn something new, or start selling something new; don’t try and get them to do too much, too quickly. It is so easy to overwhelm a sales person and although when you ask them something they may agree with you, it is unlikely the action will be done properly if at all.

9. Consistency

If you are treating one sales person one way, make sure this is in line with all the others. If you spend time developing team members, make sure you are dedicated to developing them all. Even if you favor a person or feel they are doing better than somebody else, make sure the others feel equal when it comes to your time and commitment. The same goes with isolating a team member, it is much more transparent than you may think and will affect the team.

10. Reward

Do commission schemes work? The answer is yes if you get them right. They need to be easy to understand and to work out why they are earning extra. I have seen too many sales people get commission and they were not sure how much they were going to get. Something is wrong here. They should know down to the exact dirham as you want the scheme to encourage extra performance. Also, top management should ensure that the scheme is in line with the profit reality of the company. If bigger cheques are being signed off, then the business should always be making more money overall.

11. Target Accuracy

Forget the commission scheme if the targets are not correct! If they are too low, then they don’t have to try very hard to reach them and will just tick over. If they are too high they will very quickly lose motivation. Ensure logic is used with the market situation. Consider last year’s figures, the opportunity in the market, trends from wins / losses, potential with existing customers, aggressive competitors, pricing and much more. Get this right and you have a team focused on delivering the results that the company want.

12. On Road Development

We spoke in point 1 about developing the team with one on one sessions but going out on the road is also essential. Although this takes more time, accompanying, observing and providing feedback in real life situations adds so much. However, you will need to do what I believe is the hardest thing I have ever experienced in sales – only observing, without participating when the selling starts (either when asking questions or delivering the solution). Even if your sales guy crashes and burns, let them and then help them learn from the experience. Obviously, it is best not to have these accompaniments with large prospects!

13. Co Selling

Very different to on road development but go on sales visits to help close deals, develop strategies for large prospects or to address client’s issues. Be a support for the team and use your experience where necessary. In this part of the world having the manager in the meeting can work very well

14. Recruitment

These tips are not in order. This is not the next to last point in terms of importance and I feel strongly that good recruitment is what underpins everything in relation to success in sales. Getting the right people on the bus is critical. Ensuring the sales staff have the right attitude means they will learn more, more quickly. Having the right team dynamics goes a long way. Don’t cut corners, don’t think you know it all. Yes, you want people on quickly but if you take your time with anything in your role, take your time with Recruiting and get it right.

15. Communication

Be clear and concise at all times. You don’t spend much time with sales people so you need to ensure that when you are with them they are getting the right messages. This is from the ‘open door policy’ all the way through to your body language, be aware of the messages that are being given.

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