If you are working as a Sales Director or within sales management, a major factor that contributes to your teams’ success is your leadership style. You must drive your team with a cohesive vision, if you fail to inspire your team, you will likely see their performance suffer resulting in a negative impact on business growth.
Sales management can present several challenges, even for the seasoned sales professional. However, you can inspire your team and strengthen their performance with effective management and leadership. In this blog we discuss some of the top challenges faced by sales management professionals and how with the right tools you can overcome them, resulting in enhanced sales productivity, a strengthened leadership style and improved results from your team.
Adjusting to your new sales management responsibilities
It is almost a given that to become a Sales Director you will have worked as a sales representative yourself. You now need a different skill set. Your focus is no longer purely on selling for individual gains, you have to be able to manage a team and juggle different personalities, skill sets and learning styles. You have to be accepting of the way different salespeople approach selling. Salespeople can be difficult to lead, so managing a whole team can be overwhelming, especially when you have to learn how to motivate, inspire and lead them while making sure they get results.
Meeting targets with data-driven approaches and data analysis
Sales often comes down to a numbers game. Data is a key asset to you and your team, but when interpreted incorrectly, data can cause confusion and frustration. You don’t want to get lost in spreadsheets. With predictive lead scoring, professionals are empowered to make better decisions about which prospects to prioritise, and which business issues to tackle first. According to InsideSales.com, lead scoring and prioritisation increases revenue by 24%.
CRM tools such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales help you organise, analyse and report so that you can easily share these actionable insights with your team. Good-quality data and key sales performance metrics will help you diagnose problems in your sales process, leaks in your sales pipeline and separate your best reps from underperforming ones. Business intelligence tools such as Power BI can provide real time KPI dashboards at your fingertips, enabling effective and timely decision making.
Effective time management for you and your team
As well as analysis and reporting, managing large accounts and inspiring your team, you must make sure you are communicating with the company as a whole. In a fast-paced and continually evolving position, it can be easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of responsibilities on your plate. Office 365 Groups is a group membership service that provides a single identity for teams in Office 365 and equips them with a set of group collaboration assets enabling effective time management such as a calendar, a OneNote notebook, a Plan to manage tasks and conversations powered by Outlook or Yammer.
Hiring the right salespeople
Hiring the wrong person can damage your career, your team, customer relations and the company. As a sales manager, you need to prioritise getting the hiring process right so you can recruit top talent.
It is often not enough to hire a new salesperson based on your perception of his/her personality and skills. Instead, consider using a sales personality test (in addition to standard recruitment best practice) to take the guesswork out of hiring and check for the top characteristics of successful salespeople.
Creating an environment that encourages success
A negative culture can lead to high employee turnover. It is your job to promote a positive culture so that your team is set up to succeed. Here are a few of the characteristics of a high performance sales culture:
- Transparency – An effective sales manager has nothing to hide and promotes honesty in their team. Tools such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales help sales leaders evaluate sales pipeline health with confidence. Familiar, embedded analytical tools from Microsoft Power BI help identify top performers, coach developing reps, and share best practices across the team. For more information about how Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales can empower your sales team read our previous blog.
- Friendly competition – We have previously blogged about Gamification. Creating a sales leaderboard and rewarding the highest-ranking reps is a good way to improve sales productivity while motivating the team.
- A shared vision – All of your salespeople should own company objectives and see that vision as motivation to achieve greatness.
Retaining sales talent by mentoring your team
It is not enough to hire top talent – you need to make sure you can keep them as well. The top reasons salespeople quit their jobs are changes to payment structure, poor management and lack of growth opportunities. Make sure you are nurturing top talent with effective management practices and policies.
To maximise your team’s performance you must provide ongoing effective training. By providing integrated learning paths that constantly update skill sets of your salespeople, onboarding and development is made easier. Training can also come from co-workers ensure you are encouraging collaboration between your team and actively work to break down silos. Collaboration tools such as Office 365 Groups (inc. Yammer functionality), Microsoft Project, Outlook and Skype for Business make communication easier and more powerful, surfacing relevant information in a way your people naturally want to interact.
Aligning with the marketing team
The need to align marketing and sales has been well documented. A prosperous relationship between marketing and sales can go a long way toward ensuring that the sales pipeline is optimised with high-quality, marketing-provided leads that the sales team can work on closing.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales allows marketing teams to hand over sales-ready leads, sales to understand the journey so far and for both teams to gain transparency on ongoing opportunity progress. For larger and multiple company sales organisations, new functionality called “Multi-partner collaboration” allows multiple partners to collaborate on the same opportunity to maximise selling and implementation experiences.
Sales management can be a minefield for those who are unprepared and unwilling to invest in team development and those who are not equipped with the right tools to drive success. To find out more about how business management softwaresuch as Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales can help you and your sales team, contact Prodware and download the factsheet for an overview.