Getting started with sales management: Everything you need to know
First-time sales manager? Use this comprehensive guide to sales management to get the most out of your reps.
Published November 20, 2020
Last updated October 15, 2021
When it comes to growing your business, your salesforce represents the tip of the spear. And sales managers—well, they’re the folks making sure the spears are all sharp and pointing in the same direction.
If you’re new to sales management, you’ll likely feel a lot more comfortable pointing your team in the right direction once you understand everything the role entails, how it fits into an organization, and what you can do to make it all feel a bit less challenging.
What is sales management?
Sales management is the art of supervising sales representatives and guiding sales processes designed to close more deals.
The term “sales management” actually sells the job short. Most sales managers are in charge of managing at least three separate components...
Hiring, training, coaching, and regularly monitoring and helping your sales reps.
Building and maintaining a standardized sales process with clear steps and objectives your reps can follow.
Overseeing opportunities and shepherding them from prospecting to close; analyzing wins and losses to pull insights and conduct forecasting.
Of course, all three aspects are connected. Setting standardized sales processes helps you manage a unified and productive team that’s able to close more sales. It’s critical that you stay invested in each component of sales management without losing sight of the overarching goal.
Why is sales management important?
Sales managers are instrumental in getting all of their reps aligned on a common sales process. Managers can implement specific sales methodologies, like MEDDIC and MEDDPIC, which give reps a shared framework for understanding and gauging opportunities. They can also spearhead certain sales management strategies, such as the agile methodology, to make their team more efficient at converting sales.
Aside from revenue growth, sales managers serve a critical role in the hierarchy of an organization. Most act as a bridge between their reps and the company’s higher-ups, such as directors and executives.
It’s a messenger role that goes both ways. Sales managers can rally reps behind leadership’s objectives and initiatives, from new revenue goals to product launches. They can also take all of the customer feedback that reps receive and pass that perspective on to leadership.
Sales managers also help create more sales managers. Most start out as reps, receive mentorship from a sales manager, and eventually level up. Once a rep becomes a manager, they can offer the same guidance to their team members.
Learn more: What to look for when hiring sales reps
What are the core responsibilities of sales team management?
Sales managers are expected to empower their reps in a variety of ways. Keeping a team focused and on task is a big part of the day-to-day. At the same time, managers need to nurture reps at each stage of their development, from fresh-faced new hires to aspiring sales managers themselves.
Getting new reps familiar with their own roles and responsibilities is a huge part of sales management. The onboarding process should include information about your products and customers, the sales process your team follows, and the technologies they use.
It’s not just newbies that can benefit from your experience and advice. You should be able to help all sales reps improve their performance. Provide regular feedback, mentoring, and tutorials on new processes and tech.
Make sure everyone’s doing their job—and doing it well. Track the performance of your reps by looking at key metrics that indicate success and show they’re adhering to your sales process.
As you probably know, sales can be a dispiriting line of work. Rejection is a common experience. Encourage your reps to be focused, productive, and able to bounce back after disappointments.
Salespeople are often competitive by nature, so friendly sales contests can often keep reps engaged. Just be sure to keep them fun and not stressful (no “second place is a set of steak knives”).
Part of managing is getting everyone pulling on the same side of the rope. Hammer home your team’s common objectives, and regularly check to see how reps are making progress toward them. Make sure your team is targeting broader company-wide goals, as well.
The more you manage, the better sense you’ll get of your team’s capabilities. Work with leadership to establish or adjust realistic sales goals for your reps.
As a sales manager, you’re a critical source of information for a lot of people in your organization. You need to keep your reps aware of what’s happening in the company. You also need to keep leadership informed about your team’s status, concerns, and ideas.
Facilitate an open and collaborative work environment by keeping your reps in conversation with one another. Solicit input from everyone during sales meetings and lead productive, engaging avenues of discussion.
Learn more: Running successful sales meetings
What sales management tools do you need?
After learning everything involved in sales management, you may be even more intimidated than before. How are you expected to keep track of all your sales reps and the countless opportunities they’re targeting?
The good news is you don’t have to do it empty-handed. You can use a client relationship management (CRM) system to track all of your company’s leads and customers and all of your sales reps’ interactions with them.
A CRM like Zendesk Sell makes it easier to see how your reps are doing. The Rep Performance Dashboard shows their total sales, average deal size, number of deals won, quota attainment, pipeline conversion rates, and loss reasons.
Sell lets you build out sales pipelines and allows managers to prompt their team to complete tasks at any stage of the pipeline. And if you see that a key piece of information about a prospect is missing, you can nudge the rep in Sell and remind them to get that info on their next sales call.
On a more macro level, Sell documents your deal success rate, helping you gauge the effectiveness of your chosen sales methods. Sales managers may want to experiment with different sales processes and use their CRM to measure the results to determine which works best.
Your CRM can also serve as a platform for other tools that make life easier for you and your reps.
Sell integrates with lots of additional sales software tools that make work faster and more efficient. The Google Calendar integration, for example, lets you connect Google Calendar, Google Contacts, and Google Tasks to Sell. The two-way sync of all meetings, contact info, and to-do lists with your CRM makes it easier to keep track of important events and information.
Similarly, the Zapier integration allows you to automate tasks with “Zaps” that trigger specific actions whenever certain events occur.
For example, you can automate Slack notifications whenever a deal is won or lost, keeping you up-to-date on what’s happening.
Zapier also enables you to connect over 2,000 other apps to Sell, from Slack to Shopify. Pretty much any software you and your team rely on can be grafted onto your shared CRM workspace.
Getting a grip on sales management
Sales managers have a lot to focus on—a lot more than just the bottom line. A lot of training, strategizing, and collaborating goes into closing deals, and sales managers oversee all of it.
No one ever said sales management was easy, but you shouldn’t make it any harder than it has to be. See how you can simplify the art of sales management with a free trial of Zendesk Sell.