The Ultimate Guide to Sales Team Management

Nothing happens in business until something gets sold”—this quote by legendary American industrialist Thomas Watson demonstrates how sales is the most important part of your business— no matter which industry you operate in.

You could have a great product but what really matters is how you sell it. And for that, you need a great sales team. 

Read on as we dive deep into the the best sales structure to follow, how you can go about setting up a sales team and sales team management tips.

The Sales Team Structure 

The way you structure your sales team is crucial. As a sales leader, it is your responsibility to clearly establish sales roles and responsibilities that fits your organization and culture best. 

With clearly established roles, the path to achieve goals becomes clearer to everyone in the organization.

Before you decide the anatomy of your sales team, here’s a look at some of the popular sales team models that you can cherry-pick for your business. There are no hard and fast rules so keep in mind that the model may change depending on the size of your company, the nature of your  product, type of market and business model.  

Island Model

Island model sales

What is it: Salespeople report to the business owner on their progress, with no sales manager in between. 

Skills required: Your team has to be multi-skilled to juggle all sales tasks right from lead generation, qualification, nurturing and closing a sale. 

Assembly Line Model

What is it: This model encourages a specialized sales team for each function in the sales process. You will be able to easily track metrics and identify bottlenecks in this sales team model. The team could be made up of an outbound sales team to do cold outreach, an inbound sales team to prospect and qualify marketing-generated leads, account executives to handle sales qualified leads, and customer success teams to work with existing customers.

Skills required: Each team will require specialised skills like pitching on calls and emails, negotiations, handling sales objections etc.

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Pod Model

What is it: Each pod consists of reps from different specializations. For example, instead of having one large team of sales development representatives or account executives, you can have a sales pod made up of two sales reps, two account executives, and one customer success rep per region or industry. It’s best to segregate your sales team into pods if you have a large sales operation.This brings all the skills needed to close a deal into discreet pods that can collaborate better and work faster.

Skills required: Each employee in the pod will have different skill sets required to create the pod.

Now that you have identified the ideal structure that could work for your sales team, they should ideally fall into place and spend most of their day selling right?

But, in reality, they spend a whopping 64.8% of their time on tasks that don’t generate any revenue.

Here are some tips that will help you manage your sales team, so they give their 100% every time they try to sell.

Five Lessons in Sales Team Management

 

1. Find and recruit the best sales reps

Sales team management can be easy if you hire the right people. Before you hire for your sales team, you have to look out for traits that fit your sales team’s culture. Some of the qualities include: 

  • Curiosity: Unless your sales reps have a passion to sell, they will not want to grow with your company. The reps may not be experienced, but if they have the drive to know more and be more, they are the right fit.
  • Question to ask: Gauge if the candidate is inquisitive, asks the right questions, and is able to develop a meaningful conversation with you.
  • Competitiveness: Your sales reps should have a competitive can-do attitude that will drive them to achieve their targets.
  • Question to ask: Hold a mock call with interviewees and test how they introduce your product, explain it and convince you to buy.
  • Adaptability: Business dynamics change often. So they have to adapt to the changing environment, be it changes in technology or the organization.
  • Question to ask: Is the candidate tech-savvy? What sales software has the candidate worked on previously?
  • Resilience: Sales reps regularly face dry spells when they are not able to bring in leads. They should be resilient and be ready to face lows as easily as they face highs. 
  • Question to ask: What is the candidate’s approach towards handling customer objections?

These will definitely help in selecting the right reps who have drive and passion towards selling your products. 

2. Train them at an early stage 

Training is important to arm your team with ways to achieve their goals. Your sales team should be trained on: 

  • Product -Salespeople are the face of your company. They should understand how the product works and be up to speed with all the recent features. Get them learning material such as as training decks , demos, and also let them use your product to learn it first-hand.
  • Industry: The salesperson should read up on the  target customer, industry and understand competition by reading news reports, trend reports and following influencers. They should understand the buyer persona by going through existing customer profiles. Sales team should also be in line with the go-to-market strategy by holding regular meetings with marketing teams.
  • Skills Required: An essential part of being a sales rep requires objection handling, creating pitch presentations, cold calling, and prospecting. These basic skills need to be imbibed or fine tuned when they come into your organization. Set up a buddy system where new rep shadows a seasoned sales rep on all prospects’ calls. This will help the rep understand the needs of a variety of prospects.

3. Develop a sales strategy and set a sales process

Your sales strategy should align with your objectives as they are interwoven and set you up for success. 

  • Is it to become the leader in your industry?
  • Is it to achieve 20% profit for the year? 
  • Is it to sell a certain number of products in a year? 

Once you have a sales strategy in place, your sales process should be set up smoothly like clockwork. Some of these steps may vary for each industry. But here are some basics you can start off with:

  • Prospecting – The first step is to identify potential buyers and check their interest in buying your product. They can do this by cold calling or cold emailing them to ascertain their interest and add them as new leads. 
  • Qualification – At this stage, the salesperson initiates a discovery call with the prospect to identify their challenges, pain points and the products they are currently using. They try and understand if the product can solve the prospect’s challenges. 
  •  Demo – To give the lead an idea of how the product will solve their problem, the salesperson explains the features of the product that are relevant to their use case, focusing on how it could meet their business goals. 
  • Closing – Closer to the finish line, this stage includes activities like negotiations, the signing of final contracts, SLAs, implementation. You discuss the terms of the partnership and the way forward. 
  • Nurturing – Last, but one of the most important parts of the process is to ensure that customers are happy after the sale.. Customer success, though rarely done, is an underrated part of a sales process. It helps decrease churn.Keeping in regular touch with existing customers will help you cross-sell and upsell more products along the way.

Choose only those steps that are appropriate for your business and sales team. 

4. Set goals and develop a feedback culture 

Setting goals makes your team more accountable and motivates them to earn more commissions. 

Sales Goals

4. Make metrics and results work for you 

Sales metrics are the foundation of your sales process. They help you identify gaps,  increase sales team’s performance, improves sales activities, and improve accountability. 

There are so many sales metrics that you can track for each function like:

Sales Team Metrics

The KPIs you choose to track may vary, but ensure they are tracked and analyzed on a regular basis by creating regular reports or having a real-time dashboard. Sales reports and dashboards paint a visual representation of your KPI numbers and not overwhelm you 

Sales Team Management Tips

Managing a sales team is not easy as it involves making sure that your sales team is hitting the win rates, converting leads and closing deals smoothly. Irrespective of the  type of sales team you manage, here are some sales hacks that can help you sell better and take you across the bridge. 

1. Providing regular feedback 

Giving regular feedback to your sales team is crucial as it gives them deeper insights, actionable targets and helps them understand how they can perform better. At the outset, you need to avoid being pessimistic while giving feedback to your sales team. Negativity might cloud their judgment when they reach out to prospects. Your aim should be to keep your reps happy and motivated for them to work to the best of their abilities. 

Detailed feedback like this resonates well with salespeople: 

“That sales call panned out really well. You asked relevant questions to understand the customer’s pain points, understood what they needed and gave them valuable insights, instead of just blatantly promoting our product.”

Keep these in mind before your next feedback meeting:

  • Stick to the point and give clear targets to be achieved at the beginning of the quarter so they know what the goal is 
  • Make your salespeople understand what part they play in the larger scheme of things  and why a certain result is expected out of them
  • Meet consistently so you understand where the rep is lagging and where they need help
  • Give feedback over time instead of just analyzing the end result when things go uphill/downhill 

2. Giving perks to employees 

Providing commissions and perks for achieving targets is a popular sales team management technique. Some of the ways you can incentivize the teams include: 

  • Variables: A monetary perk always works. Increasing their variable based on their performance is one way to reward top performing employees.
  • Initiatives: Encourage salespeople to take up initiatives within the team and develop their skills.
  • Leadership roles: let good performers manage teams for a month. This helps them act as leaders and gives them a taste of leadership.
  • Idea-Sharing: Create a system to share ideas where top performing reps mentor fellow reps on what works best for them. 

According to Serlic Ibarra, Director of Sales at Deeploop,  helping sales reps grow has been the best motivator. “Mentoring and investing in my team to improve their skills through training, recreational activities and having open communication with every single member has helped immensely. Their confidence increases as well as their productivity. Since we are a sales automation company we can liberate around 50% of their time for such activities,” he says.. 

3. Empowering reps with tools and resources

Identify the needs of your sales teams and pick tools that will make the job easier for them. Provide tools that will automate routine tasks, and give them more time to focus on prospecting, like: 

  • All-in-one intuitive CRM like Freshsales 
  • Tools to find leads on social media like Linkedin Sales Navigator 
  • Video conferencing tool like Zoom
  • Document management and e-signature tools such as PandaDoc or Docusign 

A CRM simplifies the sales process as it assists your sales teams to store customer data in one place, track prospect behavior, engage and follow up with clients and automate manual tasks. 

4. Preventing SDRs from burning out

When sales reps have to reach out to prospects and are turned down often, it dampens their spirit. They need a morale booster every now and then. When you notice that salespeople are not performing to their best, call them for a chat and have a polite and encouraging conversation with them to find out what’s going on. 

You may not be an expert in selling but some good-to-pass-on information include: 

  • Actions that resulted in clients converting in the past
  • What usually piques the interest of clients
  • What timings work for clients from a territory 

One of the best ways to motivate salespeople, according to Gerald Richards, Managing Director, Market People is to not try anything at all. He says, “Stop trying to motivate your sales team. You can’t. Motivation is an internal drive to satisfy a need and therefore an individual issue. At best what you can provide is a stimulating environment whereby they are motivated. Start with your leadership style. Is it inspiring? Give them a sense of purpose and encourage them.”

While leadership is an integral part of a sales team management position, don’t get carried away with micro-managing the team. Always picture yourself in the salesperson’s position before taking any decision.  Let your team always feel like they are making progress and have something new to learn everyday.