Sales management skills
Running a small business means that you wear many hats - sales manager, marketing manager, agony aunt and motivator in chief (among many others). While some of these responsibilities can be managed on an ad-hoc basis, sales and revenue is the lifeblood of your company.
We suggest five ways that you can manage the sales process that will keep your sales machine churning out new sales on a monthly basis.
1. Regular one-to-one time with your sales staff
We schedule a monthly meeting with our staff so that we have an uninterrupted hour-long meeting to discuss the specifics of their job, their performance, bigger picture issues for the company and any idea's or concerns that the salesperson may have.
For our sales team, these meetings take place in the first week of the month. This allows us to discuss the previous month's results and performance while it's still fresh in everyone's mind. As a rule, we take notes in these meetings and then email a summary of the meeting to the staff member immediately after the meeting has ended. In these notes are specific areas of performance improvement or tasks that need to be completed before the next meeting. We begin the following months one-to-one by reviewing the previous month's meeting notes and 'to-do's'.
2. Review performance based on activity reports
You may have a salesperson that has a great month on closed sales, but their prospecting calls and meeting ('top of the funnel') numbers were very poor. This will likely indicate that although they've hit their targets this month, the following month isn't looking great due to a lack of new early-stage opportunities that can be developed.
With your Salesforce SME - specific reports and dashboards, you will be able to see the number of activities completed by your sales staff, including the number of meetings, calls or new sales opportunities opened that month. Over time, you will know that there are key ratios in the sales process that need to be achieved to make a sales (simplistically this looks like X calls, Y meetings, Z proposals = 1 sale).
3. Emphasise the sales process
If you review the performance of your sales staff based only on their sales figures, you are missing out on understanding the bigger picture. To complete a sale there are specific steps and activities that need to take place, and great salespeople understand and follow this process for each sales opportunity.
Managing the entire sales funnel requires skill, experience and an understanding of the sales process. Managing the sales funnel means that as your team are concentrating on the deals that are closing in the current month ('bottom of the sales funnel'), they are also prospecting and asking for referrals ('top of the sales funnel') so that there are enough new sales opportunities in the subsequent month.
4. Involve marketing in sales evaluation
For many businesses, their top of the funnel opportunities are generated through a combination of their own prospecting work as well as inbound marketing (Google Adwords, blogging, social media etc.). For small businesses owner, it's vital that there is a healthy supply of new leads coming through, and that the cost of new leads from advertising / inbound activities is equitable.
Involving the marketing team in sales meetings and sales evaluation helps the marketing team to understand any issues that the sales team may be experiencing, such as lots of poor quality leads, not enough leads, long sales cycle, competitive information.
5. Incorporating Salesforce DATA into Coaching & leadership
Coaching is probably one of the most difficult aspects of managing staff. It requires time, energy and a sense of trust between the staff member and their manager. There are volumes published on this topic, but from our experience, we would advise that coaching is about helping your staff become incrementally better at their jobs. Coaching doesn't take someone from average to brilliant in one month, real change takes time.
Coaching better performance from your sales staff can be based on improvements in very specific area's. Using Salesforce activity reports, identify where the salesperson has room for improvement. This may involve the time it takes them to respond to new inquiries, the number of new leads that they generate from client referrals or any other key activity in the sales process that can be captured and analysed.
Remember, this is about improvement, not perfection.
Sales management and peak performance for sales staff are deep subjects, and there is a lot of information available online. In our experience, small business owners and managers need to condense this information down into manageable chunks. These five tips work for us and many of our clients. We hope you try them and that they bring you success.