Significance of sales management control | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Significance of sales management control

22 August, 2021

Efficient control of the sales function of an organisation is one of the most important aspects of ensuring the productivity of the sales team. The mechanism for such control is unique to each organisation depending on the organisational culture and the leadership provided to the sales force. Sales control bonds the sales team together, keeps them alert, makes them vigorous, and helps maintain consistency. Hence, an effective sales control process is an essential element of the overall sales effort.   

The sales volume, the foremost requirement for the survival and growth of an organisation, is controlled by deciding the amount the sales team can sell. However, the control mechanism for a sales team must be devised cautiously as both excessively strict and exceptionally liberal rules can be demoralising and harmful for performance.

The controlling process must be created by analysing important factors such as individual and group behaviour, the general nature of salespeople in the team, level of cooperation, and other variables. 

As an experienced salesman myself, time and again, in my previous articles, I have reiterated that typical professional salespeople look down on controls of any manner, regardless of the importance or necessity.

Hence, experience as a salesman of a sales leader is a vitally important factor to understand the mentality of salespeople, particularly those who are engaged in field selling. While a too strict control can de-motivate salesmen, too mild systems will let them go astray. Therefore, a balance between the two ends must be created.  

A control mechanism is an absolute necessity irrespective of the size of an organisation or its sales force.  The system keeps a team on the right track at all times. It also uplifts team spirit in a disciplined manner. In my experience, controlling an active, aggressive, and performing sales team is a grueling experience and perhaps the most demanding task for a sales manager. An effective sales manager can guide his staff as a team only through a properly and thoughtfully designed controlling model.  

Parallel

Planning and controlling are two functions that run parallel to each other in sales management. The preset objectives are reviewed to scrutinise and determine the current status, the onward journey, and finally how to reach the goal.

The control process commences when the standards are in place properly. The performances are measured and compared to the already established standards and targets. 

Therefore, the exact meaning of sales control is analysing and measuring the performance of the sales force of an organisation.

A good control model allows the management to learn and analyse the performances of individuals, determine a change of course if required, and apply corrective strategies in a non-performing situation. The controlling mechanism allows the sales manager to monitor actual work times, operational discipline, individual and group expenses, and other related activities. 

The first step in the controlling mechanism is to set standards for the sales team. A standard is a target against the measurable performance of each salesperson.

The main criterion to consider in setting targets is to determine that it is achievable. Most often sales managers follow the SMART model of goal setting to determine sales targets. 

‘SMART’ is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. This model practically is perhaps one of the best, if not the best, approaches for goal setting of any discipline.

The sales target must particularly be realistic and achievable for it to be attractive to the salesmen. Merely setting up a target without analysing the market conditions can discourage salespeople. However, the goal-setting must be looked at periodically for possible revisions and adjustments. 

Targets

The performance of a salesman or a sales team is the most important aspect of the selling profession. Without reaching desired sales targets, not only the sales team but also the company can fail.

Therefore, after the goals are set for the sales team, their performances must be constantly measured by the management based on the work done by each of them. 

Monitoring and measuring the quantitative performance of the team is one of the most stressful tasks of a sales manager.

Therefore, it is imperative that the sales manager set up certain quality standards to measure performances easily. Companies use various formats to monitor the sales performance, most often with daily, weekly, and monthly reporting systems with regular performance analysis meetings. 

The applicability of salesforce controlling methods depends on criteria, areas, and other different aspects used for measuring. The sales manager has more control over the performance when a sales territory is assigned to his team members. 

In order to avoid conflicts, sales managers establish sales territories for the team. In that way, they will not only be competing with each other but also be focusing more on prospects for more sales. Territorial selling makes the salesperson more effective in establishing a relationship with customers.   

Responsibilities

Mainly due to time-related factors, the tasks are delegated and responsibilities are entrusted to salespeople. Simply explained, this means that the authority of the manager is passed down to the salesmen on the ground.

The powers of the sales manager are transferred to sales team members for execution. 

However, through the control mechanism, the manager can keep a constant tab on the activities in the field. Another vital factor to consider is that most of the customers may not be willing to deal with salesmen without authority. Hence the delegation of authority, with control, is essential to a sales operation.

Any professional sales manager will agree that field supervision is a nightmare.

As mentioned previously, salesmen, by nature, are active and aggressive lot who usually like independence more than members of other teams in the organisation.

Hence, any successful sales leader exercises caution in managing field sales staff. Whilst the rules and regulations are necessary, the application of such controls must be done with complete understanding. 

Field supervision on the activities such as monitoring the general conduct, whether they follow operational guidelines or operate in maximum territory coverage is vitally essential in a sales operation. Also, regular performance evaluation, providing additional support to the under-performing sales staff are important. 

Motivation

The sales staff that most often perform duties in difficult conditions and experience rejections from customers constantly have to be motivated by the management as a priority field function. 

The field supervision controls exercised by the management aims at assessment and appraisal of the sales performance individually. Supervision and control go hand in hand where the field sales staff is directed by supervising their activities and controls are used to compare and evaluate the progress made.  

Successful sales managers always keep control over journey planning, routings, and scheduling. Usually, salesmen tend to ignore the time factors when traveling in their territories.

The sales manager should be involved in customer visit scheduling is another important task of a good manager. Not only do managers derive the best usage of sales time but also subtly keep the field visits of their staff under check. 

A planned routing of sales staff can facilitate communication ease and efficiency, maximum territorial coverage, and travel expenditure. A clear journey plan gives real-time information to the management on routes, locations of customers, and transport, and other costs involved. The control system must cover all these aspects to be more effective.       

Salesforce control and supervision are some of the most significant factors to achieve success in an organisation.

  Therefore, scientific control of the sales operation is a sine-non-qua factor. Checking, verifying, setting standards, directing and guiding, and motivating the sales team is the key to generating revenue.

Every organisation must have an operation of control as a tool for progress.

The objective of such control is to reveal weaknesses and errors to rectify them and prevent a recurrence. 

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