Managing sales performance | Sunday Observer

Managing sales performance

9 August, 2020

Improving the performance of a sales team is one of the most important goals in a business organisation. The efficient and effective management of this enormously vital task makes a big impact on the final result of the revenue of an organisation. 

While large organisations practise performance management in various ways,  smaller and growing companies neglect this significant area in sales management. Irrespective of the size of the sales team is important.  

The monitoring must have uniformity to avoid misunderstanding among team members. Therefore, devising methods and developing templates are an integral part of the monitoring process. In a marketing organisation, monitoring sales performance regularly is not only a daunting mission but also an unappreciated job for a sales manager.  

Providing strong leadership counts enormously in the performance of a team. The leader’s qualities have an essential impact on team members. Salespeople interact with customers, but it is the leader who is ultimately responsible for the performance and success of each salesman. The followers’ positive attitude towards the leader (referent power) is exceptionally influential on subordinates and encourages them naturally.  

One of the main tasks the management takes into account is to adequately motivate the sales team. Proper motivation offers the arousal, intensity, and persistence of effort of a sales team, directed toward a target. As much as it is important, experienced sales managers know that motivation is subjective and in reality, salesmen cannot be motivated easily. 

A fact to remember is that professional and skilled salesmen usually are assertive and forceful by nature. Hence, whatever the motivation plan, it must be devised considering the nature of the organisational culture and the behaviour of the team.   Typically, Sri Lankan companies prefer the most basic method of offering commissions on sales targets as motivation.  

Creative approaches 

The commission structure is based on different slabs of revenue brought in by the team, while occasionally companies pay overall team commissions for collective revenue performance. However, some companies use more creative and different approaches to encourage the team. At the time of commencement of the job, evaluating personal information and offering incentives based on what they specifically want is one such method. This brings in a personal touch and salespeople are encouraged to work towards a target set on their own.  

Keeping the sales team up-to-date by continuous training is important to enhance performance. Sales training provides many advantages.  Main among them is subject knowledge, motivational aspect, and encouragement. A properly designed training program allows the management to strengthen the skills and attitudes of each team member. This helps reduce any weak links within the company who rely heavily on others to complete basic work tasks. 

Training is conducted through either in-house coaching or outsourced trainers. Regardless of the size of the company, training improves staff abilities, skills, knowledge, and attitudes. Training makes the staffer more confident and positive and makes the organisation stay ahead of the competition.  

Salesmen succeed when they like the workplace and respect authority when they do. Values such as respect, employee loyalty, individual and collective accountability, and trust come from the general organisational culture. A healthy culture persuades the sales team to stay motivated towards the company. A good sales manager realises the importance of fair and healthy competition among his team members to achieve common sales goals. Usually, salespeople are fond of recognition and appreciation of the superiors and are inclined to perform better when motivated.  

Values are important to encourage employees. A fast-paced team of salesmen needs guidance, control, and discipline. Hence, proper guidelines aligned with the organisational culture must be introduced based on defined policies. These guidelines should explain the job role of the sales staff, overall and individual responsibility, and the timelines for the goal.  The availability of a set culture makes all employees understand the responsibilities and make the organisation a better place to work.    

Fostering transparent sales objectives is a vital aspect of sales performance enhancement. Setting the objectives must be a collaborative process. Following the popular ‘SMART concept  by considering making objectives based on specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based acts is a good option.

It gives a clear road map to the sales team on what they need to do. The objectives must be specific and measurable action plans.  However, even though the team is involved, the company must define and focus on increasing revenue, boosting the customer base, sales team productivity, time management criteria, and the process for the final objective setting. 

Clear vision 

Having a clear vision of the objectives beyond the company vision statement and communicating it to all stakeholders can be very constructive to improve performance. The salespeople not only understand the goals more clearly but also get to know the long term expectations when the vision is properly communicated.    

The company must get the team involved when deciding the objectives as they are the people on the floor making sales calls and closing deals. However, while keeping an eye on the bottom line, the company should make it a team effort as this shared process is a definite team-builder.    

The customer service aspect is a major part of excellent sales performance. Companies should monitor what happens after a sale is completed. It is a part of successful selling. Unsatisfactory service after a sale can be immensely damaging to the growth of an organisation. Making sure that new customers have a rewarding experience during the sales negotiation and offer them continuous customer care may ensure more business in the future from those happy customers.   

Many companies use Sales Performance Management (SPM) software programs to monitor and guide sales personnel to improve results. These programs work on goal setting, planning, feedback, and performance reviews.

The software is also used to trace information such as sales targets, quotas, incentives, and evaluations. In the computerised environment, many steps of the sales process can be automated and save valuable time that will allow salespeople to focus more on actual selling and concentrate on customers more effectively.  

Proper management of sales performance is the foundation to create a good sales culture that will drive the organisation to success. That sets expectations for the sales team to improve strategies and keep them ahead of the competition. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that the management provides an atmosphere of inspiration to the salesmen from the time they are recruited. 

Encouraging group discussions, brainstorming and individual creativity is vital for the growth of an organisation.  The feeling of team spirit is one of the biggest motivators in a team where it automatically gives a sense of collective responsibility.