10 tips for managing a productive sales team

Your business relies on its sales team for its success. Without a sales team, your business risks going stagnant. Without a good sales team, your business isn’t much better off than it is not having one at all.

Having an effective sales team requires investment of time from the sales manager, but a successful sales manager already knows this. The sales team relies on the sales manager for a number of things, including managing their direction, goals and leadership.

managing a sales teamThere are numerous ways to build, inspire and motivate your sales team to perform their best every day. Here are some strategies you should start implementing now to ensure you are managing an effective sales team.

1. Plan your route

Your sales team doesn’t want to overlap in their outreach. Overlapping would lead to wasted time, and time is critical to any business. Incorporating route planning software into your sales strategy will help avoid overlap and more.

It also allows individual team members to understand their territory and the opportunities that exist within it. Being able to plan their routes leads to less down time as it enables them to predict their driving conditions and any potential schedule gaps.

2. Provide incentives

There’s nothing employees enjoy more than recognition. When you recognize those that are performing above the rest, it pushes the rest of the team to perform better as well. Whether you email it or post it around the office, recognize the members of your team who are closing the most deals along with the value of those deals.

Not only does it recognize your performers, but it makes them leaders among their peers. If other members of the team are struggling, they’ll naturally seek out the performers for tips and advice on how they can do better. The transparency you provide for your team will keep rewarding the team as a whole.

What are some other incentives you can offer? Think about having a competition once or twice a year and rewarding the winner with a trip, extra cash or a designer satchel. Incentives come in many forms, so keep the ideas fresh and the team excited.

3. Hire coachable people

Hiring the right people for your team is imperative to your success. Always check the references and learn about their background. During the interview, assess how they perform in key areas.

You want your team members to possess empathy and focus. If they possess empathy, they can relate to your customers, and your customers will sense this. This quality builds trust. With focus, your team members will be able to stay on task without being micromanaged.

You also want them to be optimistic and success-driven. If they’re optimistic, they’re not likely to throw in the towel. Because they’re success-driven, they’ll be motivated to achieve their goals.

These are the types of people you can coach to become the best team members with the greatest productivity. Along with coaching, be sure to provide plenty of training so they have clear objectives.

4. Be fair in how you assign accounts

Though it may be tempting, don’t just save the best accounts for your most effective team members. From the standpoint of always achieving success, it might seem logical to assign in this way, but for the success of your team as a whole, it can have a negative impact.

It will make other team members feel they have no chance for success, which could lead to high turnover, which will suck the life out of the success of that most effective team member. Be sure every team member is given an equal opportunity for success.

If they aren’t ready, try again later, and be open with them on how your decision making is driving your assignments. If they know they’ll be given another opportunity, that gives them incentive to improve in the meantime.

5. Incorporate technology

Today, sales people have a plethora of apps and software at their disposal. This makes many parts of the sales process streamlined and automated so your team members have more time for building relationships.

Customer relationship management software is just one tool your team members can use to track their client interactions. There is also video conferencing software, and software to record those conferences. There is even software to remind you of your next step in communication with the customer.

Seek out input from your team members and see if they have knowledge of any other apps that could help the office in their goals toward productivity and customer relationships. To incorporate use of those apps, make sure each member has the hardware needed, such as headphones, tablets, webcams and smartphones.

6. Develop the right company culture

Company culture is increasingly important to employees, especially as younger generations enter the workforce. These young people are always looking for ways to improve themselves so they can develop and advance in their careers.

Provide opportunities for professional development. Maybe it’s sending a team to a 2-day conference, or bringing experts in to your company for half-day seminars. Doing these things has a positive impact on the morale of your employees.

Company culture also involves creating a positive work environment. Give your employees opportunities to engage in developing the company and the community. Allow them to have fun during the holidays. Give them a casual dress day. How you develop your company culture will also be dependent upon your industry.

7. Communicate clear goals

Communication is one of the most difficult areas for a business to perfect. One of the chief complaints employees often have of their employers is lack of communication.

In a sales team, communication is especially important, because if you don’t communicate clear goals when managing them, how are your team members supposed to meet their expected metrics? The team should have a goal that has been communicated to them, and each individual should have goals as well.

Set realistic goals so your team doesn’t become overwhelmed. Your biggest performers shouldn’t have the same individual goals as those who are just starting out. Their goals should be designed to step them up in their abilities.

8. Know your team members

Knowing your team members requires you to regularly meet with the one on one. This is a good time to communicate your expectations and help them set goals. It’s also a time for constructive criticism and positive feedback.

This time you give to your employer has even more benefits. It develops your relationship with that team member.

Your relationship with your team member helps you better understand their abilities. It also allows you to be viewed as a more compassionate manager, and who doesn’t want to be managed by someone who cares?

9. Know what the competition is doing

While your sales team should have a clear understanding of your company’s goal, they should also have a clear understanding of what the competition is doing to achieve those same goals. The competition is putting out offers and advertising. How do their actions impact your strategies?

You can ensure your team is aware of the competition by incorporating this information into your sales meetings. Have each team member contribute to that information so it is always at the forefront of their minds. They should be regularly creating a SWOT analysis to help them gather this information and be an important part of the solution.

Another benefit of having this information is your team will be better prepared to inform their clients about the key differences in your company and the competitor. This will equip them with the knowledge to persuade the customer why your company is the better option.

10. Be an example

Be the inspiration for your team and their success. Tell them which areas of their work are successful and which areas need more work. Keep them aware of their performance and provide specifics.

Don’t expect them to do anything you aren’t capable of doing yourself. When you want them to perform a certain way, have them sit in on a sale with you and demonstrate what you’ve been coaching. Talk is easy, but when they see you actually know what you’re talking about, they’ll have a lot more respect for you.

In addition, have the right attitude. Be everything you want them to be. That might be energetic, honest and appreciative. What you value most in your sales team, be that to them when managing them as well.

Developing a winning sales time is something that should be taken one day at a time. They can’t possibly be at their peak performance on their first day of work. Each team member needs to be groomed into the position.

A good sales manager will ensure there is plenty of two-way communication and that each member is getting the feedback and training required to help them become better members. Incentivize your team and know each individual member as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Be the example of who they should be. Managing a sales team isn’t easy work, but it can certainly be rewarding, for you and your team members.