Sales Management Process Guide: Get Better Sales Team Performance (+ Real Strategies)
The sales management process might seem straightforward— if you just implement smart strategies you’ll quickly see an increase in sales and revenue. However, most sales managers find it’s not nearly so simple.
That’s because a lot of teams use common approaches, like tracking leads and sales, increasing leads, and using call scripts, but fail to tie those strategies together. For example–if you changed your lead gen process, did you adjust your call scripts or use the same old ones?
To be effective, these strategies must be part of a larger strategy. Otherwise, they can’t work effectively. Worse, your strategies might even conflict with one another.
The truth is, sales strategies alone aren’t enough. To drive real revenue, what you need is a sales management process. Effective sales management processes not only help everyone understand the goals, from the most junior staff to the C-Suite, but they also scaffold operations and procedures so that closing deals gets easier across the company.
This concept is often an afterthought, even at the most successful companies. Usually, that’s a case of simply not understanding what it is.
What is the Sales Management Process?
The sales management process is all the operations and activities that contribute to selling products or services to your clients or customers. The process describes, in detail, how salespeople perform, and how that impacts the rest of the company. To be effective, this process must be well-structured and clearly defined.
Fully fleshed out, the sales management process encompasses:
- Every step of the sales cycle
- Every person involved in the sales cycle, from sales leaders to customers
- Sales targets and metrics
- All sales activities and steps for implementing them
- How sales bridges with other company departments
The main objective of a sales process is to unite separate activities into a cohesive set of sales strategies and help drive revenue. To do that, you’ll first need to understand the key aspects of sales management.
Key Aspects of Sales Management
While sales management is a sweeping concept that can be broken down in any number of ways, there are three main components to understand:
- Analysis: Measuring and reporting which efforts impact metrics.
- Strategy: Defining the steps in your sales process.
- Operations: Building a team and keeping them motivated.
Failing to account for any of the key aspects can result in a less effective sales process–and wasted efforts. Let’s take a quick look at each.
Sales analysis is about analyzing which factors impact your sales and how, but it can be quite complex if you don’t know what you’re looking for. So many factors play into the success or failure of a product or campaign. Because of this, only expert measurement can unravel the sometimes-knotty questions of why one thing worked where another didn’t. Tracking the right metrics–and analyzing the results–can provide deeper insights.
For instance, let’s say you introduce a new roofing product. At first, it doesn’t sell very well, so you implement a few new approaches, including:
- Creating detailed customer personas in your customer relationship management (CRM) software.
- Writing up an amazing script for selling the product and distributing it to your team.
- Giving your reps call coaching on the new product
- Finding studies that support the use of your product and wrapping them into sales calls
You’ve implemented four new strategies and, over time, your sales begin to rise. Here’s the problem: which one worked? If you introduced all of these to your sales team within a few months, and you didn’t track the likely rise in sales with any granularity, then you have no idea which of these approaches is driving results.
However, if you’re using effective sales management tools with metrics, then the sales department is far likelier to understand what worked. Good sales software will help you identify what changed when, so you can match up spikes in sales to the techniques that drove results.
From the cheesiest treasure hunt movie to the most intense sci-fi flick, the best stories feature strategy. That’s because in real life, people with a plan get further than those who don’t have one.
The same is true in business. Hands-down one of the best ways to close deals and increase customer retention is a good strategy, which is where a sales strategy deck comes in.
This key ingredient of the sales management process carefully lays out every step in the sales process, including:
- Specific, measurable, attainable sales goals
- Ideal customer profiles, including industry, location, title, responsibilities, pain points, and buying process
- Competitor analysis
- Unique selling propositions (USPs) of your product
- Sales benchmarks for upselling, cross-selling, and new client management
- Qualifying conversations
- Negotiation allowances, so reps know exactly what discounts they’re authorized to give
- Sales documents, such as scripts, templates, and objection management
By laying out every single activity and resource in one place, your sales strategy directly leads to better results.
While the subsections and nuances of sales operations could fill a set of encyclopedias, the basic concept is pretty simple: Sales operations refers to the steps to build and maintain a strong sales force, including:
- Recruitment, onboarding and training of new sales teams.
- Compensation, benefits, and incentive packages
- Allocations of sales territories and accounts
- Implementing communication channels
- Training and development
Sales operations can cover a wide range of processes, and has shifted in meaning over time. In the past, sales ops referred to analyzing sales rep data to increase productivity. Today, it generally refers to supporting and enabling teams to deliver better results–which can include managing sales reps, improving collaboration, and implementing effective training programs.
By streamlining and improving sales operations, it allows sales teams to focus on what they do best–make more sales!
Signs of Successful Sales Management
Before we dive into effective strategies, let’s take a look at what the successful sales management process looks like. In a nutshell, you’re doing it right if you:
- Hire the right people: The best people want to come to work, sell, and increase the bottom line. Your job is to find the people who fit your company culture and convince them to become your sales reps.
- Train them to sell effectively: Once you’ve got enthusiastic team members, it’s time to give them the tools they need to sell your specific product, service, or package. This includes effectively onboarding them and supporting them in long-term leadership development.
- Set objectives and educate the team about them: One of the most important skills a sales manager must have is the ability to set achievable goals and track the team’s progress toward those goals.
- Coordinate operations across sales: The entire sales department must have their eye on the prize. Remember the sales strategy deck? That’s where this comes in.
- Coordinate between sales and marketing: Marketing is also critical to sales. Before prospects get to you, they’ve often seen your logo, product, or a campaign. Make sure the two departments are on the same page.
- Collect and analyze data: You can’t know what you don’t know. ABC is important, but ABA matters too–always be analyzing. Whether it’s a new marketing campaign, new products, pricing, or new sales scripts, ABA!
- Cultivate great leadership: Sales managers of larger organizations shouldn’t go it alone. Team leads and other leadership roles are just as important for lead generation, meeting company goals, cultivating future sales, and increasing sales performance on a daily basis.
Not seeing all these benefits? It might be time to implement new sales management strategies.
10 Sales Management Strategies to Increase Sales Performance
Improving sales management is about improving revenue–but it's also about building long-term relationships and driving growth.
But, how do you do it? These top sales management strategies will help your team hit those numbers and improve customer satisfaction.
1. Keep Sales Reps Motivated + Engaged
Good sales managers want their teams to feel motivated, happy, and ready to work. And why shouldn’t you?
The part many managers miss, however, is that it’s hard to feel motivated when you’re too busy feeling out of your depth, no matter how passionate you are about your job. All the bonuses in the world can’t make up for the fear that comes from not knowing what you’re doing.
Science backs this up. Studies show when it comes to what makes us love work, money and titles lose out to mastery. In fact, employees stay longer at organizations where mastery and autonomy are prioritized.
What does this mean for sales managers? Rather than “motivating” people to do their jobs or do them well, look to provide the tools they need to succeed and give them the resources to keep getting better over time. Excellent job training and resources can succeed where salary hikes cannot.
Keep motivation high by:
- Recognizing them in front of others
- Profiling them in company reports or email blasts
- Rave about them on LinkedIn or social media
- Offer surprise treats–yep, even grownups like treats
Note also this expert advice: You can’t turn someone who dislikes sales into someone who’s motivated to do it. You can retool your training programs and rewrite your job descriptions all you want, but you’ve got to hire the right people upfront in order to keep a motivated team.
To do that, make sure you:
- Hire people with a proven sales track records and genuine enthusiasm for the job
- Train them thoroughly and answer their questions openly
2. Set Clear Sales Objectives and Sales Goals
The more frequently you measure your goals, the likelier you are to achieve them. But, if you want to set measurable goals, you can’t just decide on “more weight loss” or “more sales.”
Not only are those some pretty flaccid goals; they don’t give you much to work toward.
Instead, your team needs powerful objectives. When setting goals, base them on the following factors:
- Your sales history
- Holiday purchasing patterns
- Upsells and cross-sells
- Customer retention rates
- Conversion rates
- Profit margins
Your objectives should combine a healthy dose of optimism with the reality of your past track record. Aim to increase numbers at a reasonable rate that integrates your high expectations of the sales staff with the fact that the current sales approach at your company may need some updating.
3. Improve Onboarding and Sales Training
Recap: training leads to mastery. Mastery leads to job satisfaction. Job satisfaction leads to employee retention. Employee retention leads to better use of company resources and less work for the sales manager to train new employees.
Whether your company relies most heavily on cold call scripts, online demos, or other sales techniques, it’s crucial your sales staff know exactly how to put those tools to use.
Help your employees by explaining the benefits of consultative selling and then giving them exact strategies. Walk them through the ultimate sales pitch. Have them practice selling you a plate of scrambled eggs.
Whatever it takes, give this first stage of your sales management process your all, because every other stage hinges on its success.
4. Incentivize Team Members
Just because you hire people who enjoy sales doesn't mean incentives are a bad idea. On the contrary, everyone loves a good Starbucks card or a spa getaway, and there’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition.
If you want to see an increase in sales volume and sales revenue, establish those key performance indicators (KPIs) upfront, tie them to rewards, then tell your employees what they need to do to nab them.
Boom! Incentives implemented.
One last tip: Ask for feedback on incentives. What a sales manager thinks might be a good incentive and what sales reps actually want might not be the same thing.
5. Establish And Refine Your Sales Plan
Want to improve your chances of meeting your sales goals? Consider using a project implementation plan. This useful document outlines the big-picture sales plan for the entire company, enabling everyone to see shared goals and work toward the same strategy.
This can’t-ignore tool for the sales management process includes:
- The scope and timeline for all projects and tasks, both together and broken out separately
- Goals and milestones with metrics
- Best practices for each stage of the project
- Descriptions of what constitutes satisfactory deliverables
- Risk management tools
- Change management tools
- Clearly laid-out duties and responsibilities
If your sales organization uses project implementation plans on the regular, you’re bound to see huge increases in productivity, number of closed deals, and overall revenue.
6. Leverage Sales Forecasting
Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20, which makes sales forecasting a little more difficult than tracking past results. However, the ability to project what sales will look like in coming quarters is critical to setting and achieving those objectives.
Some aspects of a sales forecast are easier than others. For instance, at any given time, you have a certain number of deals that are near closing. You have others that are further out but look pretty certain. That can help accurately predict revenue.
Other techniques, such as looking at past revenue at the same time of year, can help flesh it out.
Whichever approaches you use, you’ll need a system that can track detailed data points to wrap into the forecast, which is where a good CRM comes in.
7. Build Better Sales Funnels
The sales funnel is crucial to building revenue and driving sales. It covers every step of the process and helps sales reps know what to do next. Improving your sales funnel is one of the easiest ways to improve sales.
Remember, you need prospects in every stage:
- At the top of the funnel, where they’re just learning about your product
- Further down, where they’re interested
- At the bottom, where they are getting ready to sign off
- The end, where they’re now your customer
So how do you improve your sales funnel? Start with a sales pipeline review meeting. If you’re not conducting those regularly, it’s time for a change! This meeting will help you see what areas need improvement.
8. Reward Top Performers
Then, of course, we have financial rewards, which are everyone’s favorite way to see their success acknowledged.
At the risk of being a proverbial broken record, these rewards cannot replace intrinsic motivation. (Then again, your top performers are unlikely to lack intrinsic motivation in the first place.)
Instead, financial rewards come in the form of bonuses, salary increases, and perks that increase that internal motivation.
They should also come as a direct follow-up to measurable achievements, such as quarterly sales reports, landing large clients, selling outdated inventory, and other actions that really move the needle.
9. Initiate Frequent Sales Reporting
Reports are integral to understanding where your sales strategy is working and where it needs…well, more work. If you don’t have a CRM that prioritizes reporting, you need to get one, like, yesterday.
While the exact metrics you track can vary, sales reports should cover:
- Individual sales representatives
- Sales teams
- The entire sales department
- Metrics specific to marketing campaigns
- Metrics specific to new products
- Number of new leads and accounts
- Total increase in revenue (and not, fingers crossed, decreases)
- Costs versus revenue
You can also break each of the above down into even more specific and granular reports, helping you see such specifics as:
- Which sales reps understood which marketing campaigns best
- Which teams are moving which product most quickly
- How certain scripts work compared to other ones for the same product and people (A/B testing)
Really, there’s no limit to what you can do with finely tuned sales reports. Depending on your industry and organization, you might track other metrics like time to close, lead to close rate, etc.
The main takeaway here is to make sure reporting is at the center of everything. Otherwise, you could be wasting valuable time on sales strategies that don’t matter.
10. Leverage and Support Your Customer Relationship Team
No one will ruin your credibility faster than an unhappy customer. This is why you need to continue watching out for customers even after you close the deal. Not only is this a great way to upsell and cross-sell to them, but it’s also important for avoiding negative reviews and reducing churn.
Enter the customer relationship team, which oversees all post-purchase interactions with your customers. This department aims to build real relationships through providing customer service and solving problems.
If your organization can do this well, then you will see fewer returns, greater customer satisfaction, higher reviews, and better word-of-mouth marketing.
This is the final stage in the sales management process. The customer has made a purchase and (technically) exited your sales funnel. However, with the right treatment that customer can become a long-term source of revenue and referrals.
Implement a plan to pass on sales information to your customer relationship team, and lean on them for information about where customers struggle. Use that information to refine your sales process and improve your sales scripts.
Top Tools to Boost Your Sales Management Process
All those strategies we covered become so.much.easier when you’ve got the right tools to back them up. The right sales tools don’t just make your life easier–they help your team track, manage, and grow revenue. Oh, and they’ll take over some of those tedious tasks so you can get back to selling.
So, what does your sales stack need to boost sales management?
Customer Relationship Management System
A good CRM system will include call, text, email, and video chat capability, so you can contact your leads and customers any way you please … or more accurately, any way they please. Because the customer is always right, and your CRM should reflect that.
If you haven’t yet automated your email, what are you waiting for? Manually sending emails by hand has gone the way of the dinosaur, and your competitors are now zipping out emails without even thinking about it. (Even while they sleep.) If you’re not using automated email sequences, you’re already behind.
Too many companies are still using paper reports or unintegrated apps to track their reporting. On the other hand, those meeting their objectives are pretty much guaranteed to use an all-in-one system that tracks sales activities, analyzes them in multiple ways, and packages them up for viewing by the whole team. Which type of company would you rather be?
Remote Call Coaching
No matter how skilled your team is, there is always room for improvement. Call coaching is an excellent sales tool that helps you help them in real time. Instead of wading through the sales call learning curve on their own, you can “sit in” on calls with your junior sales team members even if you work in different states or countries. Call coaching through Close is a game-changer in today’s telecommuting climate.
If you want real-time results, then you need real-time access to each and every sales tool you use, and they all need access to one another. Give your sales force a powerful leg up with modern integrations, and watch the successes roll in.
Drive Sales Management Success With The Right Sales Management Tool
Ready to learn more about how you can improve your sales successes? Close is a CRM built for and by sales teams.