Sales managers are crucial to achieving and sustaining an organisation’s success. How effectively they manage their sales teams is key to getting great results. The most successful ones understand that achieving above average performance comes through supporting and coaching their teams. Here’s some advice from Krauthammer’s top consultants on how to manage successful sales teams:
Doing more with less
In our competitive markets, today’s sales managers have to reach their targets often with fewer people and smaller budgets. So, it’s become essential for them to get the absolute best out of every sales rep on their team.
Krauthammer Managing Partner, Thijs Westerkamp summarizes this challenge simply as “doing more with less”. He says that the economic crisis has put margins under pressure, forcing companies to change their sales strategies, pricing and market approach. “In mature countries, you need to sell more but with less people and activity. In less mature countries, your sales professionals need to be up-skilled from transactional selling to consultancy-based selling.”
Krauthammer’s Senior Consultant Olivier Conq, reveals the key to achieving more with smaller teams is “creating conditions for collective and individual success, while rewarding performance to attract and keep new talent on board.”
Pascale Bauer, former Director Central Europe shares this insight: “To recruit good people who stay for a minimum 5 years, you need to always be available to listen. Be interested in them as people – if you don’t invest enough time with your team and develop them, you’ll regret it later.”
The managing-motivating mix
Our experts explain that to effectively manage a sales team, ensuring each member feels your support can drive home positive results. Doing simple things like sharing over lunch or dinner demonstrates that you’re there for them. Senior Consultant Isabelle Auroux adds: “It’s important to talk and take time to just be with people, sharing best practices and having fun.”
With your sales team, create a common strategy and explore ways they can support each other (e.g. buddying). Keeping in close contact with your sales reps will also create strong ties within the entire team. Also try out new ways of working together, inspiring each other to get fresh ideas.
Ensure there’s a regular flow of communication. Emails are excellent for keeping everyone up-to-date or quickly sharing successes. Regular meetings are also essential for aligning a team and support working together. However, it’s important to demonstrate management. “Keep your team accountable for targets and deadlines and make sure they come prepared,” says Isabelle.
An excellent motivator is to start each meeting with what the team are proud of. Encourage collaboration, pro-activeness, solution oriented thinking and acting. Ending each meeting with feedback about the meeting will also give you valuable insight into what can be improved next time.
Managing challenging personalities
Motivating, encouraging and organising a sales team, with sometimes very strong personalities can be tricky. Embracing team diversity and knowing how to enhance strengths and reduce weaknesses of those on your team is necessary for success.
When handling the strong personalities, Thijs advises, “take a strength based approach and re-balance their own successes so that they can see it wasn’t just them who created the success.” Isabelle adds: “Get to know the person, negotiate with them so that you can adapt and push forward the quality that lies behind their dominance.”
Understand that dominant people will always like to be dominant. Let them speak, but ensure that they still respect others, and be strict on what is not negotiable like established rules.
Thijs notes that: “Dominant people often need a counter force to make them become more open to others. Confrontation can be positive, especially if it leads to a good level of trust and creates a base for positive relationships.”
Competitiveness is challenging but if correctly managed, can be positive. Foster a collective attitude but also work with each team member individually to create their own yearly A-grade that they can live up to.
Act on the no-goes
Negativity, individualism and hiding problems signal trouble within a team. Make sure you foster open communication. If there’s internal conflict, focus on facts not personal feelings. Watch out for unreliable reps. Being unprepared for a team session, or not meeting objectives and deadlines is detrimental to a team’s overall success. Address any unreliability immediately. Re-establish a common understanding of what’s expected and encourage older team members to set examples for newer ones.
“Not being interested in the sales employees as people and developing them is a big no-go,” says Pascale. “Organising a high performing team workshop and creating a good on boarding plan for each new sales rep lead to better sales team efficiency.”
Quick tips for sales managers
Make coaching a high priority to build confidence and drive your team’s performance.
Take an interest in the people on your team; create a feeling of trust and collaboration.
Grow the members on your team, promote their individual strengths and work on diminishing their weaknesses.
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