Essential elements of sales management | Sunday Observer

Essential elements of sales management

3 October, 2021

Successful business organisations throughout the world execute one important thing: sales management. It is tested and proven that a great sales team headed by an efficient sales manager can take an organisation to the next level. An effective sales management process is the heart of an organisation that consists of many parts, all of which work together for the achievement of sales objectives. 

The sales management provides a structured outline by spelling out the organisational hierarchy, line of authority, responsibilities, and individual duties of the entire team together with the anticipated end result. The sales department is supported by all other departments of the organisation because they are the moving parts of the company. The sales process needs to be fully grasped by others in the organisation to ensure efficiency in revenue generation.    

Establishing the foundation

Setting up sales goals for the team is the first and foremost task of a sales manager’s role. Smart sales goals are always activity-based and achievable, without giving too much focus to hit numbers. If an organisation solely concentrates on numbers, realistic goal setting can be a difficult task. 

A good balance between the veracity in market conditions and the short and long-term revenue requirements of the company is essential to set sales goals. More importantly, the targets set on a sales team must be reasonable, achievable, and highly motivating. 

Creating the organisational structure

The sales team structure is the foundation of a sales operation. A weak foundation can bring down the entire process. Hence, the design and structure of the sales department can have long-lasting consequences in the business.   There are several models sales organisations use to construct a sales department. 

The ‘assembly line’ also known as ‘hunter-farmer’ is one such model used by many organisations, particularly small and medium-sized businesses. This is the most straightforward approach where each team member has a specific function within the sales cycle. The model is simple and uncomplicated where the team member moves through the cycle, starting from lead generation to closing of a sale. 

The assembly line design is perhaps the most popular model due to the expediency of understanding how a salesman can work across multiple types of prospects, going through different sage of the sales cycle. Also, the assembly line improves efficiency due to the ease of identifying issues along the pipeline.  

‘The island’ model of sales department structure is the simplest where the owner or a manager is at the top to oversee the entire team of salesmen. With the Island model, every seller is a generalist where the salesmen generate, qualify, and close leads on their own. This is common to traditional sales operations such as real estate, insurance, and financial services. This model offers sales practitioners a higher level of autonomy over customers.  

‘The Pod’ mixes elements from both the island and assembly line models. Similar to the ‘the island’ method, a single salesman will associate with a customer from the inception but each team will have specialised members related to specific aspects of the customer base including sales development, accounts in charge, and relationship managers. 

However, companies can structure sales departments in some other factors such as geographical territories, separate product divisions, and customer base size. Some of these segmentations can be used along with the three models discussed previously.  

Building up sales plans

Building a Sales plan is a tedious process that should be discussed at length. Hence, this is only a brief. Deploying a sales team sans sales planning is groping in the dark. An organisation must know where they are heading and how to hit the key targets that are already established at the foundation stage. 

 An effective sales plan must contain key elements such as communicating organisational goals to the sales team, providing strategic directions to them, outlining roles and responsibilities of each of the team members, and monitoring the process of the performance and progress of the whole effort. 

The planning process must be done with the collection of a few ingredients. Firstly, the planners should gather existing important data from inside the organisation and outside information of the products. With such information, searching for future trends becomes more convenient. The plan should contain the current objectives and anticipated sales targets to meet the specified revenue goals. 

Therefore, a sales forecast is essentially important, possibly with a SWOT analysis outlining strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, and anticipated issues. Identifying gaps in the market that could be filled in. Establishing an effective and pragmatic ‘action plan’ is essentially important. 

Recruiting talent 

Hiring salespeople is a nightmare for a sales manager. Typically, good salesmen are extremely effective communicators and usually above average in presenting themselves. Therefore, at a recruitment interview, a smart candidate can convince the interviewer more effectively and get the job with ease. Wrong recruitment can be damaging to an organisation as salespeople are the front liners who represent the organisation. 

Without a proper strategy for hiring salespeople, the company can risk making a bad hire and ending up in a costly cycle of consistent turnover. According to Harvard Business Review, sales staff turnover can have a direct impact on the sales revenue where replaced new recruits can take time to learn and adjust. During the process, the sales goals of the company suffer. 

Developing and managing the sales team

Modern sales people wear many hats and selling is not their only job. The easy access to information online and the availability of numerous social media platforms makes their job more complicated. Selling has become much harder than it was a few years back. The present-day sales manager, thus, has more challenging responsibility in developing and managing his or her team efficiently. 

Apart from providing great leadership, the sales manager has to train and motivate the team members constantly as an ongoing process. The key to building a capable sales team lies in engagement. In order to keep them motivated and inspired, the sales head must establish the resources needed to learn the job by deploying both internal and external sources. 

The sales team is more than just recruits that help to build revenue for the organisation. They are the front-line troops and the representatives of the organisation who are in touch with customers throughout a relationship. Therefore, the sales manager must ensure that they are given good leadership and also they are given all the tools to succeed. 

Driving specific individual and team performance 

Sales performance is the measurement of sales activity and the corresponding outcome compared to a pre-set goal. The keys to good performance are drive and consistency. A good sales performance is the steady continuation of achieving stipulated targets for an extended period of time, through different market conditions, competition, and general economic conditions. 

The sales leader must have a steadfast focus on the individual performance of his or her team members. The leader must always stay ahead of the team on monitoring the sales team. As described by this writer, professional salesmen are much smarter than members of any other team and capable of outsmarting even their leader. Therefore, the leader’s ability to manage must surpass the sales team members all the time. 

People first approach

Among other criteria, two specific elements take precedence. First is the ‘people-first approach where the sales manager wins the hearts, minds, and most importantly the trust of the people they lead. Constant evaluation and assessment of the team are imperative to understand their performance levels, personal issues, and their career development opportunities. Also, the high performers must be lauded while low performers have to be encouraged to achieve. 

The second criterion is engaging the team collectively and individually to focus on diverse perspectives through open conversations. Therefore, the sales managers are responsible for creating a safe space for the team where they feel comfortable to share opinions, concerns, and new ideas. The productivity of the team is automatically enhanced when their voices are heard.   

As described at the beginning, these outlines are a fraction of the depth of each of the topics discussed. Further, there are more important aspects that exist in elements in sales management and revenue enhancement.