If you want to learn how to manage a sales team, you’ve come to the right place. You’re about to get actionable insights from top experts who have all been there (and done it) before.
Managing a sales team is definitely a challenge, but until you have managed or been on a sales team building revenue at +20% MoM AT SCALE, you may be in for a swift and rude awakening.
These 12 sales management tips are based on real knowledge gained from building companies from 0 – $100 Million, from world-renowned sales leaders.
12 Expert Tips For Managing a Successful Sales Team
- Be results oriented.
- Identify where you are versus what you need.
- Manage expectations.
- Hire coachable reps.
- Set high, but realistic goals.
- Incentivize your team.
- Make learning a priority.
- Use the volume versus value ratio.
- Avoid a “one size fits all” approach.
- Hire specialized reps early for long term growth.
- Be a transparent organization.
- Carefully plan and distribute your accounts.
1. “Be results driven”- David Baga
Hire people with drive and determination. Create an environment that is very transparent and oriented on key sales metrics. Ultimately, when you put competitive people together in a transparent environment, it drives the entire organization up and to the right. Make sure that you emphasize outcomes to prevent people from confusing activity with productivity.
David is SVP of Revenue & Operations for Rocket Lawyer where his team has grown revenues from $2 million to over $40 million in just four years. David spent seven years at Oracle, building and leading sales teams that delivered record-setting results.
2. “Identify where you are and what you need”- Aaron Ross
Before you learn how to manage a sales team, you need to build one. Identify which category your potential hires fall into, builders vs. growers. Builders grow from scratch. They start with nothing. Growers grow once everything is in place. Most people are not good at both. Know what stage you’re in and what type of salesperson you need, and ask questions to separate the builders from the growers.
Aaron is the #1 best-selling author of Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into A Sales Machine With The $100 Million Best Practices Of Salesforce.com, and the Founder of Predictable Revenue Inc. consultancy. He is a former sales guru at Salesforce.com, where he helped increase their revenues by $100M.
3. “Manage expectations accordingly”- Navid Zolfaghari
You want to get your team excited and do whatever you can to support them. I think everyone knows what over-performance looks like, but not very many have defined what under-performance looks like. Are you comfortable with a salesperson that consistently performs at 90% of quota or one who can be at 150% one month and way under the next?
Navid is the Founder of Pinpoint Mobile, formerly the Founder of TriFame online talent discovery site, and an early member at Wildfire Interactive, which was acquired by Google in August 2012 for over $400M.
4. “Coachability is key”- Mark Roberge
You have to make sure your hires are good at taking feedback. Gauge this by doing a role play in which they actually conduct a demo for your product. Then ask them how they think they did. Then give them feedback. Grade them not just on how smoothly the demo went, but how open they were to self-assessment, taking feedback and applying it.
Mark is the Chief Revenue Officer of the HubSpot Sales Division. HubSpot ranked #33 on the Inc. 500 list of Fastest Growing Companies for 2011, and Mark was ranked #19 in Forbes’ Top 30 Social Sellers in the World.
5. “Set the bar high”- Andrew Riesenfeld
When sales goals are high (yet achievable), there is something worth pursuing and your group needs to believe that anything’s possible. If you achieve only 70% of a stretch goal, you’re doing better than achieving 100% of a mediocre goal, as long as there is a collective nirvana about what’s being built that is fueling your success.
Andrew is currently VP of Field Sales at GuideSpark and the former VP of WW Sales Development + Pipeline at Responsys, where he helped lead the company to an acquisition by Oracle for $1.6 billion.
6. “Incentivize your team”- Arjun Dev Arora
For example, invest in a few dashboards around the office displaying a live feed of deals closed and current monthly dollar value, or deals closed for each person. This creates transparency across the organization and team, and a sense of urgency and motivation.
Arjun is the Chairman of the Board and Founder of ReTargeter, where he bootstrapped the company to be in the top 100 of the Inc. 500 list of Fastest Growing Companies for 2013.
7. “Training matters”- David Baga
Make continuous learning part of the culture; emphasize and invest in training and professional development. Every successful sales organization should have a regular cadence of training that is consistently developing the fundamentals of product knowledge, competitive intelligence, prospecting, opportunity management, territory planning and professional communications.
8. “Use the volume-versus-value ratio”-Aaron Ross
Your highest value people (most expensive) should be spending time on the lowest volume (but highest importance) activities – like building relationships, securing referrals and partnerships. Your lower value people should focus on higher volume activities, like turning prospects into leads. This holds true for leads, too. Go after fewer, but better prospects.
9. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution”- Navid Zolfaghari
You have lots of different personalities working for you. Your role is one of mentor and enabler. You want to shield your team from internal politics or bad sales behavior, make it easy for them to focus on the job at hand and be more successful. Different people need to be managed differently – figure out what motivates each of them and push those buttons to develop better sales people overall.
Speaking of sales motivation, here’s one to inspire us all:
10. “Specialize early to grow sales”- Mark Roberge
Don’t treat all your salespeople the same. Group them by their preferences and strengths – do they prefer to go after large pieces of business or are they better rapport builders with small businesses? Do they understand certain sectors better than others? Segment your prospects and segment your sales team to address them, especially as you grow.
11. “Design a transparent organization”- David Baga
Transparency means that your peers, managers, everyone, should know how you’re performing. The best sales organizations should know each team member’s goals and their progress against them.
For example, the number of calls made every day, the amount of time spent on the phone, what each person’s pipeline looks like – these should be available for everyone to see. Your work ethic should be on display.
12. “Think through how you distribute accounts”- Navid Zolfaghari
It’s only natural to want to give your best opportunities to your best salespeople but you also want to balance that with a system that is fair. You want everyone to feel that there is a good opportunity for them to succeed, so make sure you invest in your new talent and give them a chance.
Great post Gabriel, thanks! I especially agree with #3. One of the best books I’ve read on managing is First Break All the Rules. In it, he talks about some softer areas that people need managing around, such as making sure people feel heard and feel cared about. Often, that’s harder in a sales environment. Any tips?
Am I wrong for considering #1 to be the most important? 🙂
Definitely it is great post. I read all contain in this post very carefully. I think No. 10 is more effective for a team manager.
A sales manager plays a key role in the success and failure of an organization. He is the one who plays a pivotal role in achieving the sales targets and eventually generates revenue for the organization.
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Team management is also effective when the correct tools are used that help you save time and manage teams with ease. I use TMetric and am happy with how the app helps me stay focused on team management, and it’s pretty simple to use it. My recommendations to try!