Effective sales management at small and midsize B2B businesses requires a combination of skills, tools and personnel that can maximize the selling of your product or service. In that mix are the goals you want to set for your sales teams as well as the metrics they will follow to understand if they are progressing in
This mini, sales management guide is meant to be an overview of what you need to know. There’s no doubt achieving your sales management goals will be a journey and there will be challenges along the way. But first things first. You need a plan.
What is a sales management plan?
What’s in this plan, you ask? Typically, this sales plan is a specific part of your overall business plan. It’s an outline and understanding what you want to achieve and how you are going to measure your success.
Your plan will list your sales goals and they need to not only be smart – they need to be SMART. That acronym stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time based. SMART goals are important because in sales, it’s very important to measure whether your activities and actions are resulting in accomplishing your business goals. In other words, if you cannot measure your actions, then you can’t manage them. Also, within your sales management plan, you should identify the resources you’ll need to deliver the plan. This could include hiring staff, business expenses, professional services, training tools, and sales software.
Sales Management Plan: The Sales Process
Let’s drill down even further when it comes to your sales management plan. You’ll need to define your sales process. Your sales process, in a B2B sales cycle, can range but in general it consists of the following steps:
Lead generation – By using social platforms to sales intelligence tools, you can help boost your lead generation efforts. Leads can come from inbound sales. That’s when a customer gets in touch with a company. On the other hand, outbound sales are when a sales team reaches out to customers. Cold calling tactics are most associated with outbound sales.
Qualifying prospects – Your sales and marketing team needs to define when a cold lead is considered a sales-ready opportunity. Many managers use BANT (budget, authority, need and timing) to qualify prospect. The acronym BANT stands for:
- Budget – Does your prospect have a budget for your product or service?
- Authority – Is the person you speaking to have the authority to make a buying purchase decision
- Need – Is there a need to make a purchase?
- Timing – Will they be purchasing within a reasonable time frame?
Sales pitch – Understand your customer’s problems and you can get your sales pitch right. If you get your customers pain points and your service or product can truly help them then you’re coming from a great place. This will make the sales process much smoother. Create an effective presentation to show just how you can help them. In your sales pitch you’ll want to:
- Start with what’s in it for your prospect.
- Define what the end results would be.
- Connect with the decision-maker.
- Be flexible to perfect your sales pitch.
- Use storytelling.
Closing the deal – Closing the deal comes after you’ve negotiated price. Sell on value. Commit to delighting your prospects!
Sales Management Plan: Sales Strategy
Now that you’ve got a team, your plan and your process – you’ll need to think deeper about your sales strategy. Without a strategy, sales management leaders simply make decisions based on what is best at the moment. I’ve seen this time and time again and it isn’t a great use of time or resources. To have an effective sales strategy, you need to have an understanding of the big picture for your business including clear priorities that everyone can understand, measure, and work towards.
Before you can begin to plan for the future sales success of your business, first look to the past. History will answer a lot of questions for you and help you make smarter decisions. Do an assessment of the previous year of business and ask questions such as:
- How much did your team sell? To whom? Did you get repeat business?
- Which clients brought in the least and most profit?
- Analyze your sales cycles. Which is the shortest?
- Which clients had the highest revenue?
- What has changed in your sales process?
- Have you identified the most logical place to seek growth?
- What resources and support will your sales team need to reach new goals?
Creating an ideal customer profile is another important step in your sales strategy. Many successful companies realize the 80/20 rule. That means that 80% of revenue comes from 20% of clients. Check our post on The CRM Affect on Customer Lifetime Value.
Another part of your sales strategy is conducting a SWOT analysis. This stands for your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Understand what is selling for you and why.
Next, you’ll need to take a look at your market strategy. In evaluating this portion of your plan, you’ll need to understand the market segments you are targeting and your company’s position in approaching those segments. Identify how you will get them to be aware of your product or service. Develop and communicate your messages to achieve growth. Figure out how your sales team will work with marketing to prospect those leads and sell to them.
The Importance of Sales Management
Sales management continues to be of value to small and midsize businesses. B2B companies are trying to build their presence and brand in highly competitive landscapes. Plus, there’s a constant need to figure out better ways to service clients while increasing profits. An effective sales management plan introduces new products in the market, increases the production of existing products, and can reduce the cost of sales and distribution.
As you improve sales management at your company your sales practices will improve and that equates to positive brand building. Brand is increasingly critical nowadays and building it is a proven way to boost a company’s presence in the market.
Sales Management Functions
A sales manager is a role I know well! We play a key role in achieving sales targets. At the end of the day we are responsible for generating revenue for the company. If I could give a few tips to what an effective sales manager can accomplish at a small or midsize B2B business, it would be for that person to understand that he or she has the capacity to transform the average sales team into a high-performance team. Often that goal is about delivering twice the revenue from the same cost base. Who wouldn’t want that for their business?
Keeping that goal in mind, understand that sales managers are responsible for:
- Meeting sales targets through planning and budgeting.
- Working with his/her sales team to work toward goals that are SMART!
- Working with marketing to think of strategies and techniques that can help drive sales.
- Be an effective promotor for the company’s brand.
- Motivating and rewarding team members. Team members that are incentivized deliver their best. Appreciation goes a long way in sales. I like to keep in mind the rule of the three R’s. Rewards. Recognition. Remuneration.
In this digital age, the Internet has truly transformed what B2B salespersons can achieve. The salesperson, sales representative or account executive is an emerging and evolving job role. It’s not just about repeating product information to potential clients — as it could have been defined in the past. A salesperson’s job role today is very much about helping customers make purchasing decisions. That’s in a time when there is a plethora of choices and when competition is great across all industries.
Here’s one of my favorite salesperson tips. A successful salesperson approaches the customer’s needs over a salesperson’s selling. When talking about what you’re selling, stress the benefits for the customer over the features. Your potential customer should walk away from your presentation understanding how your service/product will solve his/her business problem.
According to the Harvard Business Review, hiring managers in sales management roles are looking for sales people that can analyze data, think strategically, and learn the business. At the end of the day, salespeople must be compelled to advance opportunities that will help prospects make the best decisions. That comes along with better business acumen.
Salaries for Sales Teams
According to Salary.com, the average sales representative salary in the U.S. is $55,812 as of October 2018, but the range typically falls between $46,615 and $65,939. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on many important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years you have spent in sales.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, those working in sales management or as a sales manager equates to a salary of $126,040 on average. This is basically double that of a sales representative. In a U.S. News and World Report article, sales managers ranked second out of the best sales and marketing jobs nationwide.
Best Sales Management Software
The number one sales tool built with specific features that anyone in the sales field would benefit from having is none other than customer relationship management software (CRM). The best CRM software is designed to help you save time and close more deals. As a small or midsize B2B business, you need a CRM that doesn’t feel like it’s adding more hours to your day.
Many business owners start their managing sales with Excel spreadsheets or pen and paper. There will be a point that you need to move on to be smarter about building your business relationships to help close deals. Once you “adopt” a CRM and use it you will realize the value it offers in organizing your sales prospects, sales pipeline, and more.
The market is flooded with many types of CRMs. Be sure to choose one that you, as a small and midsize business, will use. Generally, adoption rates for such software is low because of many factors including the fact that there’s always a learning curve and people are typically resistant to change. Also, many CRMs are bloated with too many complex features which make them impossible to learn and use. That’s why finding a CRM that has easy-to-use features as well plus the right features can be a challenge. A sales focused CRM, without unnecessary bells and whistles, and tailored to SMB companies is the way to go. You want a CRM that is proven to be adoptable, affordable and approachable!
And Sales Management Tools
Here is an earlier blog post about the reasons sales reps don’t use their CRM to give you more insight into this topic. One way to test the waters is to download a free trial of CRM software.
Besides CRM software, here are other tools/methods I recommend for sales management in small and midsize companies. Keep in mind that CRM software helps greatly in implementing these tools and methods as well.
Sales training plan -Training is an on-going process. Once you have a sales team, constant attention to an organized training program becomes critical.
Weekly sales meeting – Having a well-run sales meeting sets bar and the tone for success. In my sales career, I have been part of sales meetings that aren’t organized, waste time or don’t have well-outlined objectives.
Sales dashboard – Sales managers should be presenting teams with the right metrics to manage the growth of a company’s pipeline and a way to view and analyze win/lost ratios.
Conclusion: Sales Management Goals for You
I hope you learned that sales management is an important business function for your company and that it is something you’ll need to work on continuously. Net sales through the sale of products and services and resulting profit are driving most businesses these days. Besides a well-thought out plan, keep in mind that a good working relationship between sales and marketing is key too. I also touched on the people that will play a critical part in sales management for your B2B company and how they’ll contribute to your company’s overall success.
The bottom line is if your company brings in any revenue or wants to boost it – a sound sales management strategy is a must. Now get out there and plan, strategize, and sell!