The highlight of any sales operation is the act of closing a deal.
Revenue is generated, high fives are given, bonuses are awarded. It’s truly a glamorous production.
But what about the not-so flashy side of things? Like the people who hired the rep that made the sale, or the team members that created the strategy that made it all possible, or the sales analysis that proved the value to higher ups. All of that, and more, falls into the realm of sales management.
What is sales management?
Sales management refers to the process of creating, running, and advancing a sales team. This includes hiring a well-trained team, establishing strategies and processes, and analyzing outcomes to identify ways to improve.
A sales team includes a ton of moving parts, and the sales management department is there to ensure every strategy, action, and result is serving the customer and working toward the greater mission of the company.
Sales and sales management must work closely together to ensure both teams are successful. While they both have different goals, sales to close deals and management to support that, alignment is going to be key in that relationship.
Why is sales management important?
It might seem as if a sales management strategy is a nice-to-have. However, if your sales organization’s functions stop at closing deals with customers, it’s inevitable that other important aspects will be overlooked.
First off, sales management can help gain insight into your own sales force, which requires more deliberate action than it may seem. When done correctly, your sales management strategy will help answer the hard hitting questions, for example:
- Is our sales team well-equipped to close deals and reach their goals?
- Are our strategies effectively working to support the overall mission of the company?
- After analyzing the outcomes of our sales efforts, is there any way we can optimize our processes to improve?
After diving into your sales organization to answer those questions, sales management can identify any issues early on and determine methods to fix them beforehand.
Secondly, sales management can effectively keep a finger on the pulse of your industry. Whether it sees growth, new regulations, or threatening competitors, external factors can and should affect your sales team’s strategy, techniques, and goals. Without a team dedicated to managing that, important details might be overlooked.
Essentially, if your business generates revenue, a sales management strategy is a must-have.
Factors of sales management
There are three key factors of sales management that make up the entire system: sales operations, sales strategy, and sales analysis. Your business might call them something different, but overall, those terms describe the main purposes of having a sales plan and management strategy.
First comes sales operations, which includes a lot of the preliminary work in managing your sales team. This strategy, or perhaps even the entire department, works to do everything in their power to help the sales team sell to customers as efficiently and successfully as possible.
Here are the elements that might be included in a sales enablement strategy:
- Recruitment, onboarding, and sales training: finding the right talent, acquainting them with the business, and training them on specific methods used to sell your product or service
- Account allocation: determine the best sales rep for each account, based on their experience, quota, and knowledge of the buyer
- Territory management: creating, managing, and setting sales targets for each territory based on available opportunities and the reps assigned to it
- Sales forecasting: analyzing data, past performance, and trends to predict future sales and prepare for that time period as effectively as possible
- Contract management: organizes contract stages for the customers, including initiation, execution, and renewal or expiry
- Sales data management: managing the data of the sales team, tracking progress towards sales objectives, and analyzing sales metrics
- Sales process optimization: identifying the best way to align your business’ sales process with the customer’s buying journey
- Lead generation: acquiring enough promising leads so sales professionals have enough to work with
- Sales metric selection: choosing the best sales metrics that accurately represent the success or failure of a sales venture
- Compensation plan creation: crafting compensation and incentive plans for the sales team in a way that will boost performance
- Software selection: identifying software tools that will help automate processes and then managing that tech stack
Sales operations effectiveness becomes apparent by how well the above actions help make the lives of sales reps easier. Metrics like new hire ramp-up time, quota achievement rate, conversion rate, average deal size, sales cycle length, weighted pipeline value, and forecast accuracy can all be used to measure their efforts.
Overall, the sales operations team takes care of all of the behind the scenes work so the salespeople can focus on building relationships with the customers.
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