Sales management isn't just about optimizing sales strategies and fine tuning sales processes. In most organizations, it's also about managing the sales team and helping individual salespeople perform up to their potential.
To do that effectively, Sales Managers must understand how to align big=picture policies and goals with actionable ideas at the salesperson level. Let's look at key insights and philosophies often overlooked when managing sales team members:
1. Optimize Ability AND Motivation
Ability and motivation both impact performance. Therefore, successful performance improvement efforts combine strategies for improving each. Well-designed sales training and skills training are essential to boosting salesperson will underperform unless properly motivated.
Top Sales Managers ask themselves (and answer) these questions:
- Do I make goals and expectations clear?
- Do I help my people keep their skills current?
- Do I effectively recognize and reward salesperson effort and achievement?
- Do I have regular goal setting and development meetings with team members?
2. Provide Performance Feedback
Salespeople need to know where they stand regarding current performance and long-term expectations. When providing feedback, great Sales Managers ask and answer these questions:
- Do I provide performance feedback as soon as possible to connect salesperson behavior with our conversation about it?
- Do I focus on performance, not the person, to avoid damaging morale and motivation?
- Do I provide enough ongoing support via planned, frequent meetings with the salesperson to review progress and provide feedback?
3. For Poor Salesperson Performance, Take Immediate Action
Handling poor performance in a positive manner as soon as it is recognized cuts short the negative impact of the poor performance and starts the opportunity for immediate improvement. Of course, the wise Sales Manager also knows it’s critical to document performance issues when they occur. This helps in case a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), disciplinary action, or termination become necessary.
4. Don't Just be a Sales Manager -- Be a Leader
Top Sales Managers constantly seek ways to evaluate – and elevate – the organization’s structure and processes. But beyond this, they never forget that even the best sales strategies and processes require talented salespeople to execute them. Thus, great Sales Managers also strive to be great leaders, striking the right balance between systems and people. Ultimately, they lead by example – inspiring their people with a positive outlook, open communication, and creative problem solving.
The Bottom Line
Sales management strategies for boosting sales should never focus solely on improving processes. Rather, they should focus on the salesperson! Specifically, the Sales Manager should optimize salesperson skills and motivation, deal with poor performance when it appears, and lead by example.