How to Become a Highly Successful Sales Manager

We all know a sales manager is the executive responsible for controlling a team of salespeople. With enough education and training almost anyone can become a sales manager of a company or organization. But there’s a difference between sales manager and highly successful sales manager who has achieved popularity, profit and distinction. Continue reading to learn how to become a successful sales manager.

1. Setting Goals

As a sales manager, one of the most important facets of your role will be in setting goals for your staff to reach. Setting goals is a proven method for motivating your team and serves as a quantifiable means for charting progress over time. When setting goals, you should ensure that the goals are determined by a practical appraisal of your staff’s ability and in keeping with the larger aims of your company. Establishing goals correctly will prove an invaluable tool for fostering success for your sales staff.

Previous Performance Advantages

Every goal should be determined with previous performance in mind. You should have detailed matrices that show your team’s past performance. Access those charts to discover patterns that will help you to establish reasonable and ambitious goals for the future. Be sure to take into account certain factors that will affect your upcoming performance in relation to past results. Such factors can include the experience of your staff. You should adjust your goals based on the capabilities of your current staff. If your team is as experienced or more experienced than the staff that accomplished previous sales standards, you are correct to assume that future goals should be established to break those records. If you are currently leading a less experienced team, consider the challenges that will be present for a newer group of salespeople and how those challenges might affect the staff’s ability to match or exceed previous marks. 

Seasonal differences can also contribute to a different atmosphere for selling. If you are setting goals for second quarter sales numbers and comparing those numbers to a first quarter that included a holiday season rush, adjust your expectations according to the sales climate without the holiday advantages.

Present Advantages

Oftentimes, setting goals is made trickier due to the implementation of new conditions. Perhaps you have recently augmented your staff’s training regimen or adopted new systems to assist in the sales process. These advantages should result in improved performance on their own. To establish a new goal, allow for the advantages of recent changes and extend your demands further to account for the performance of the staff given the newly added help.

Consider any other present advantages so as to not set your goals too low. Advantages can be seasonal – as in a time of year when your business normally accelerates – or company driven as in the case of a new or expanded advertising campaign.

Presenting the Goals to the Staff

Your presentation of the new goals to your staff is a critical part of motivating performance. Once you have considered all relevant conditions and advantages and established the goals, choose a format for disseminating the goals to your staff. Each staff member should be made aware of the goals and the period of time the evaluation will be monitored. Informing all team members will ensure that each member will have the opportunity to reach toward the goals in a concerted effort.

2. Managing a Team

Managing a sales team comes with responsibilities critical to the success of your staff. As a manager, you are responsible for the training and evaluation of your team, as well as duties meant to motivate your staff to its highest potential. In environments where you are unable to directly assist your team members during the sales process, you will need to create and maintain the conditions that allow each member to perform at their best. Keep in mind your four key roles as a manager to ensure a successful sales team performance.

Trainer

Training is the most important part of building a strong sales staff. The success of each team member is foremost dependent upon the knowledge the member wields as she or he approaches each sales opportunity. While most of the training takes place before the sales staff makes contact with customers, training often extends well into the careers of a sales staff as changes are implemented and progress is analyzed. Do not make the mistake of leaving the training up to the official trainers. As a manager, you are responsible for complimenting the official training with remedial instruction as necessary.

Motivator

In a perfect setting, a sales staff will be full of hungry members all working tirelessly toward achieving their potential. In many circumstances, sales team members are unaware of how much they can do to reach further toward achievements they have never reached before. The role of pushing a salesperson past the point of the previous personal best rests with you, the manager.

Use creative incentive programs to motivate your staff. Establish ways for staff to improve their techniques such as quiz games or other ways for members to brush up on their salesmanship skills. 

Monitor

It is common for a sales staff to descend into habits that short-change their ability to sell. Your role as a manager is to maintain the standards for your company and keep in line a complacent staff. To monitor your team effectively, establish regular periods and methods of monitoring. By creating periodical review protocol, you will be able to monitor your staff more effectively and correct wayward technique before it becomes ingrained.

Cheerleader

Commission salespeople often find it easy to recognize their achievement; it usually comes in the form of a check. In any case it is important for you as the manager to acknowledge the achievements of your staff – both collectively and individually. The role of cheerleader is an often missed assignment. Too often managers get used to the performance of their staff and achievement becomes routine. Any good salesperson knows that consistent selling is the product of consistent sales technique. As such, accomplishments should be acknowledged to both remind the staff that sales aren’t found, they’re made; as well as to motivate team members to push through and maintain their discipline if for no other reason than the recognition they are to receive for a job well done.

3. Negations Training

Managing a sales team includes making sure each member is properly trained to achieve the team’s goals. Part of the training vital to any staff is the fundamentals of selling. Each member should be well-versed in the art of greeting a potential customer or client, presenting the goods or services he or she is offering, and laying out the terms for the buyer. If all of the techniques are employed effectively, the salesperson is still only part of the way to a sale. Oftentimes, negotiation awaits a salesperson at the end of a presentation and an unprepared team member can spoil all of the work performed up to that point with poor negotiation skills. 

Training a sales staff to become expert negotiators will mean giving them the tools that can make the difference between success and frustration. A sales staff already has a built-in advantage over customers; they will be much more practiced at negotiation than even the savviest customer. Do not assume that advantage will win the day. Becoming a successful negotiator takes practice and skill.

The format for training your staff will be determined by the makeup and environment of your company. Some managers will have the option of teaching in a classroom setting while others may have to be more creative in finding ways to instruct team members. Utilize whatever means you have at your disposal to impart the training your team needs and deserves. 

Negotiation is made simpler by informing the sales staff of the latitude they possess. Keeping the sales staff in the dark, while a common practice among sales managers, will only lead to the salesperson opening up the negotiations with their own speculation; speculation that could ruin your chance to close the sale later. To avoid the occasion of a junior salesperson from “giving away the store,” explain the reasoning behind your tactics so that she or he can understand the process fully. This requires a level of trust that many managers are uncomfortable with providing but the results of either method a starkly different.

Stress the fundamentals of negotiations in training sessions. Salespeople should ask questions during negotiations in order to: 

  1. Discover the buying motives of the customer.
  2. Find out the budget of the customer or what they expect to pay.
  3. Discover reasons other than cost that would dissuade the buyer from completing the    sale.
  4. Whether the customer would complete the sale today if the financing options are agreeable.

Once the answers to the questions are revealed the salesperson is free to make an accommodating offer or bring their findings to a sales manager.

Practice negotiations in training until you are certain each member is equipped with the fundamentals of negotiation. Monitor your staff periodically to uncover any need for remedial training and train as necessary.

4. Motivating Your Sales Staff

The role of a sales manager is comprised of a multitude of duties that are vital to the success of the team. A manager should be capable of training the staff so that each member is equipped with the skills and tools necessary for success. A manager is also charged with making sure each member is abreast of the current programs and goals of the company. One important role of a sales manager – a role that is often overlooked or undervalued – is the role as a motivator. 

Salespeople are people first and as such, each salesperson has reasons he or she strives to achieve at work. For some staff members, the financial rewards are enough to trigger a level of self-motivation that keeps them reaching for greater success. For others, the mere accomplishment of closing a sale is what drives them to seek greater accomplishments. Whatever the motivation of your team members, as a manager, it is your role to tap into those motivators to drive your sales staff to the greatest heights possible.

Motivation can be cheerleading for some team members. An individual can be motivated by recognition and driven by rewards aside from their pay check. In such a case, your duty is to design ways to acknowledge your staff for their accomplishments while encouraging those members who are not meeting the goals set before them.

Creative ways to motivate a sales staff include: Prizes or other tangible rewards, incentives or perks for top performers, and company or industry-wide recognition. Coming up with a system to consistently motivate your sales force will create an environment of competition and pride, with the byproduct of soaring sales numbers and a winning atmosphere within the office.

Take time to discover the ways your staff can be motivated. By getting to know the motivators of your staff members you can devise a reward system that reaches most or all of your staff effectively. Be sure to tie your motivators to sales goals so that by achieving the rewards, the staff is also accomplishing the goals of the team or company.

By creating a system by which each staff member feels incentivized to go above and beyond their normal standards, you will engender a collective mind-set of achievement among your team members and produce stellar sales results in the process. Furthermore, the effect is contagious and long-lasting. New members to the team will be surrounded by sales professionals who expect to excel and are willing to assist in the transition of a new team member.

Steve Gottwald

Hi my name is Steve, a former member of the US Army Reserves. I attended the University of Arizona and earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Management degree.

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