By themselves, ‘sales management’ and ‘team management’ are concepts which must be managed well in order to boost the success of any business. Check out any company or business, big or small, and you will find that the maximum attention and resources are usually concentrated on the sales function, simply because sales generates revenues and thereby profits. While team management is applicable to other functions as well, nowhere is it more crucial than in sales… why? Simply because people drive sales and sales drive the business, making the difference between profit and loss! As a sales manager in charge of a sales team, learning to use and manage sales resources is probably the most important part of your job description, if not the most important one! How do you then learn about effective sales team management? Read on to find out…
Sales department structure
The sales department in a company/business can be set-up in a number of ways, some of which are mentioned here. Depending upon the structure, the kind and quality of team management required also differ. Therefore, the first step is to acquaint yourself with the department/team structure.
- Direct Sales Agents (DSAs): Your company outsources the entire selling function to independent agencies, which in turn, hire the necessary sales force in order to sell the parent company’s products and/or services. This is a cost-effective measure, since the company need not bear direct costs associated with hiring, training and retaining a large sales team.
- In-house sales force: This set-up works best for small and medium-sized companies, where sales are confined to a limited geographical area or a single product line.
- Part in-house, part outsourced: A combination of the two structures mentioned above, where the in-house team may concentrate on selling to niche or valued clients, while the DSA teams concentrate on general and public sales.
- Field sales and telemarketing: As above, depending on costs, product types, location, etc.
A typical salesperson is usually an individual who is friendly, outgoing, self-confident, able to communicate with different types of people and requires very little ‘prodding’ or management in order to meet targets. Adjectives such as ‘aggressive’, ‘self-motivated’, ‘go-getter’ are usually used to describe such salespersons.
The challenge for every sales team manager is to take a motley crew of individualistic and confident ‘stars’ and meld them into a ‘super’ team. How does one achieve this? Some guidelines are listed below:
- Attractive salaries, incentives and perks: For any sales team, the bottom-line is money; high-performing salespeople are always on the lookout for a ‘better deal’ and are highly mobile, i.e. they can switch jobs without much thought, if they think they can get a better offer elsewhere.
- Consistent and regular training programs, whether at the company premises or offsite locations (the more of the latter, the better).
- Recognition in a peer group.
- Setting out clear expectations in terms of targets, promises/deals to offer potential customers, etc.
- Frequent interaction on a team as well as individual basis.
- A well-defined career growth plan for consistent top performers, creating opportunities for mentoring or managing small sub-teams, etc.
The contents of this article are just a few basics on sales team management; to cover the topic in its entirety one may need a whole book or a series of books! But it should give you a fairly clear idea about how you can learn the ins-and-outs of sales team management.