Managing a sales team: effective practical aspects

Managing a sales team: effective practical aspects

Has anyone ever heard children say that when they grow older, they want to be sales managers? The answer is a big negative. They have many more appealing choices. Managing a performing sales team is not an easy, glamorous, or comfortable job due to multiple reasons.

In my long career in sales, I have seen both sides of the coin as a salesman and a sales manager, and I can safely declare that managing a high-performing sales team is draining and daunting at times. The simple reason is that when everything goes smoothly, the credit is taken over by many of the staff, but when something goes wrong, all fingers point at the sales manager.

Perhaps managing a sales team is the hardest job in corporate life. The truth is that working in sales at any level can be incredibly stressful. Research reveals that being a sales manager is among the most stressful jobs, and many successful ones are close to burning out.

However, the most important factor is that having great sales management is one of the most essential requirements for a company to grow. Hence, although being a sales manager is a hard task, it is one of the most critical positions in any organisation.

The first task of a sales manager is to understand the individual and group behavior of his team members. The sales manager first and foremost must be empathetic towards the team. It is a proven fact that showing sincere interest in the needs, expectations, and strengths or weaknesses of subordinates is a key aspect of successful leadership. Hence, sales managers must lead their teams with empathy to understand the needs, goals, and traits of their team members in order to succeed.

The distinction between an ordinary and a highly effective sales team extends beyond the knowledge of sales tips, tricks, or methods. Exceptional salespeople possess various unique characteristics that not only generate sales but also respect, loyalty, and long-term relationships with customers. Usually, they’re resilient and compassionate, but they can often be more active and aggressive than the other staff of the organisation. Professional salesmen have a good understanding of their value and expect reciprocal respect from leaders.

Hence, sales managers must realise that their sales teams are somewhat indispensable to them in the long run, as finding and recruiting performing salespeople is always a formidable task. For example, the sales manager must unconditionally trust them to obtain their confidence in return.


If the sales manager presumes that his or her team members are dishonest or unreliable, he has to find reasons for such presumptions and get them corrected immediately. If the team does not support the leader, the sales manager cannot perform effectively.

Effective sales leaders are conscious of the growth of their sales teams. It does not mean only organising training sessions regularly or taking them on picnics to motivate. The sales manager’s approach towards the team members must go beyond mere coaching, training, or entertaining. They must be lured into thinking about both personal and professional growth.

Hence, leaders must make it a point to shadow successful peers at work to teach them winning attributes and techniques. The leaders must encourage the team members to build strong relationships with colleagues and interact as professionals to share insights and improve their respective networks.

Salespeople can experience tremendous stress at any moment, and the nature of sales is full of huge ups and downs, which occur virtually on a daily basis. The possible constant and continuous rejections that take place regularly can take an enormous mental toll on a salesman. Therefore, sales managers must keep a close tab on their teams to avoid individual frustration.

It is critical that sales representatives understand the variety of situations that might impact their emotions so that they can practise remaining balanced throughout the day. The enduring stress can have a bad effect on the mental health of salespeople and cause harm subsequently.

Therefore, the sales manager must be alert to the significance of the balancing acts and understand the importance of preserving work-life balance for personal well-being. Salespeople must be relaxed and mentally clear to be passionate during sales calls.

Good sales leaders always find suitable methods to keep their team members in a positive mental state. The guidance of the sales manager must be situational and depend on multiple factors, such as the nature of products sold by the team, the general work environment, the rules and regulations of the organisation, and so forth.

During my long experience in sales, first as a sales representative and then as a sales manager, I have observed that the best salespeople vehemently dislike paperwork (including myself when I was a sales rep). Almost all salesmen around the world think that it is a waste of time, although deep inside they know it is an essential requirement. Selling is an incredibly valuable skill. Successful salespeople are, therefore, excellent listeners who pay attention to detail when communicating with customers. In addition, they are sharp observers whenever they interact with superiors at the workplace. They think paperwork takes valuable time off from the tiring selling process.

Crucial tasks

Nevertheless, monitoring the performance and activities of the sales team is one of the most crucial tasks of sales management. The controlling mechanism of the sales team must be monitored intensely. As a result, the leader must seek assistance from others in the organisation to reduce paperwork for the sales team in order to make things easier. Alternatively, the manager can use sales automation software to reduce paperwork.

Regular feedback is crucial for sales team members. Salespeople need to understand how they are performing and where they can improve. Hence, the leader must provide positive and constructive feedback and help the team develop its skills through regular coaching sessions. However, the leader must be lavish in praising individual or team performances while giving regular feedback. On the other hand, they must also be subtle and private when passing on negatives.

Coaching ideally blends in with regular feedback. It should be focused on the individual’s strengths and weaknesses, and the explanations and guidance must be situational. For example, if a team member is struggling with objection handling, the manager might work with them to develop new strategies for addressing common objections. By providing targeted coaching during briefings, the sales manager can help your team members improve their skills and reach their full potential.

Fostering a positive team culture is one of the key success factors in managing a high-performing sales team. Encouraging teamwork and collaboration and ultimately celebrating the team’s successes together is a primary task of a sales manager. In practice, celebration is a very effective team motivator that must take place as often as possible. When someone on the team closes a big deal or achieves a significant milestone, the manager should make sure to recognise their achievement and celebrate it with the entire team. Finally, the sales manager must know that recognising and rewarding success can immensely influence the motivation that leads to success. Therefore, it is essential to recognise and reward individual and team performances regardless of sales volume. Celebrating successes can help boost morale and motivate your team to perform at their best.

Rewards can take many forms, from bonuses and promotions to public recognition or prizes. It’s essential to choose rewards that are meaningful and satisfying to team members. For example, some team members might be motivated by financial rewards, while others might prefer non-financial rewards such as public recognition or time off. My advice is that the sales managers must keep their teams happy if they need continuous performance.

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