Sales Best Practices

Empower Your Sales Team: 10 Impactful Sales Team Management Strategies

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Serena Miller

Editor, Sales Best Practices

Managing a successful sales team requires a thoughtful, strategic approach: One that’s built upon a foundation of rep engagement, a collaborative culture, and achievable goals.

But, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and an ever-changing sales landscape, sales managers and leaders frequently struggle to implement effective management strategies that set their teams up for both short- and long-term success. Inefficient workflows, limited transparency, and inadequate tools all threaten a manager’s ability to leverage a strong strategy. The result is often a team of reps who can’t meet their sales quotas, high rates of rep turnover, and low levels of employee engagement — all of which impact a company’s bottom line.

To properly manage a sales team and ensure high rep performance, managers and leaders must develop modern strategies that take into account their team’s (and the broader industry’s) challenges, shifting workforce dynamics, constantly-evolving technology offerings, and rising employee and customer expectations. This might seem like a steep hill to climb, but with the right tips for getting started (and some crucial tools for support), sales managers can build a holistic management strategy that empowers reps to succeed.

Here, we’ll take a close look at 10 impactful sales team management strategies, including what they entail, how to put them into action, and how they can benefit both your sales team and overall organization.

10 Sales Management Strategies to Empower Your Sales Reps

As organizational and industry-wide priorities shift, it’s crucial for businesses to invest their time and resources into management strategies that help them remain efficient, competitive, and profitable. While managers should consistently revisit and tweak their approach to ensure success, here are 10 strategies to start empowering reps today:

1. Develop a transparent culture

Transparency has become somewhat of a trendy workforce buzzword as of late, especially as it becomes more and more difficult to achieve in a remote or hybrid environment. But sales organizations and managers shouldn’t neglect the importance of fostering a fully transparent work culture. Not only is this an important factor for reaching business goals; it’s also vital for engaging reps and reducing employee turnover.

Digital transformation initiatives can get the ball rolling here, as a modern revenue intelligence practice backed by powerful salestech solutions helps teams gain transparency into pipeline health and accurate deal and quota reporting. In turn, forecasting becomes more predictable and leaders can more easily identify strong growth strategies. Reps always know what they’re working towards and how their actions impact their goals and broader business objectives.

But the buck doesn’t stop there: Equally — if not more — important is an organization’s investment in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). In fact, nearly 80% of workers want to work for a company that values DEI, so businesses that fail to prioritize these initiatives will likely lose top talent and, ultimately, high-value deals. Likewise, customers want to conduct business with organizations that are committed to employing, valuing, and supporting people who represent the world around them.

Focus on demonstrating your company’s dedication to understanding and resolving social issues. Ask reps, other internal team members, and existing and prospective customers to share what’s important to them and act on it. Develop a culture of transparency and mutual respect by updating your teams on key business decisions, process adjustments, new tools, and more; and don’t forget to explain the reasoning behind those changes. Leverage technologies that provide reps with real-time insights into broader company updates, pipeline health, deal status, and more — all of which will help reps feel more engaged, comfortable, and confident in their leadership, regardless of where they work from.

2. Incentivize your sales reps

Sales incentives aren’t a novel idea by any means. Managers have used them for years in an effort to boost rep performance and meet sales quotas. But successfully incentivizing the modern rep requires two things: Creativity and a deep understanding of what motivates each specific seller.

Some reps are inherently inspired to perform at their best all the time, with the promise of satisfied customers and the possibility to make a larger impact enough to keep their sales wheels turning. Others need something more monetarily-focused (e.g. a new iPad, gift cards, bonus checks, etc.) to light their fires. Public recognition — in the form of shout outs, team dinners, or appreciation days — can go a long way for reps who want to feel valued by leadership and colleagues alike. Don’t be afraid to ask reps for some unique reward ideas that they’d enjoy working towards: So long as it aligns with the budget, of course!

No two reps are exactly alike, so take the time to ask and understand how each salesperson prefers to be recognized and motivated. Flexible rewards and incentives programs boost employee engagement; a benefit that managers shouldnt ignore, since a highly engaged workforce results in 21% greater profitability. Plus, you’ll likely be surprised by the effort team members will exert to reach their goals when there’s an incentive they actually want at stake.

3. Commit to ongoing coaching and training

Successful sales leaders and managers know that coaching and training aren’t static, one-and-done exercises to check off a to-do list: They’re part of an ongoing process designed to fine-tune reps’ skills and reach larger goals at-scale.

But traditional coaching and training methods likely won’t cut it in today’s hyper-hybrid landscape of buying and selling. Reps need highly focused, enhanced skills that they can stack on top of their more conventional techniques. That’s why many sales leaders have invested (or plan to invest) in internal sales training for their managers (85%) and sales reps (89%).

Upskilling your sales talent will likely become a competitive differentiator in today’s complex global and sociopolitical environment. As a sales organization operating in this modern landscape, leaders and reps need to be technology and data fluent, capable of data- and insights-backed conversations, and possess strong relationship-building skills. It’s also your responsibility (and in your best interest) to empower your leaders and reps with everything they need to conduct their jobs with empathy and accountability.

Implementing a shiny new tool that captures all your key data is a start, but you also need to provide continuous training that helps managers and reps transform that data into meaningful insights. A digital-first approach is the key here, so invest the time and resources into ensuring managers and reps are fully competent in today’s selling environment and are prepared for whatever comes next.

Modern sales enablement tools can help, since they facilitate real-time coaching that won’t derail productivity. What’s more, some solutions help managers instantly identify areas for improvement at-scale, so they can quickly resolve issues and improve rep performance individually or across the entire team.

4. Provide detailed and one-one one feedback

Strong sales leaders know that performance feedback should be highly personalized — both in terms of content and delivery. Some reps are motivated to make improvements when they receive constructive criticism, for example, while others prefer a softer, more indirect approach.

It’s vital to conduct one-on-one meetings with each sales rep to first determine how they prefer to receive feedback. Discuss meeting cadence, feedback format (e.g. in-person chat, email, written document, etc.), and any management issues they may have had with previous supervisors. Then, tailor your feedback technique to each individual rep. This high level of personalization demonstrates that you respect and value your reps and are willing to go the extra mile to help them succeed.

Once you’ve nailed down the best format for delivery, focus on preparing specific, comprehensive feedback for each rep. Sweeping observations (e.g. “The team isn’t closing enough deals this month”) or comments that only take metrics into account (e.g. “Your performance is subpar because you haven’t booked enough meetings”) usually aren’t that helpful. Instead, take a holistic approach to evaluating each seller by assessing metrics against their specific goals, asking open-ended questions about what’s contributing to their successes and failures, and practicing a culture of coaching for continuous improvement.

This can seem daunting and time-consuming for managers who don’t have the proper tools for support. But powerful sales technologies lighten the load, with tools that help track and analyze metrics, offer full transparency into reps’ deals, and align sellers with short- and long-term goals.

Even better if your platform offers sales call analytics, which use AI-driven guidance to pinpoint exactly what each seller should work on to reach those goals. This allows managers to turn sales calls into a training resource, with transcriptions and recordings for easy feedback review and sharing. Reps can then share those insights and any best practices with other team members, so even the greenest of salespeople can nail their next sales call. Now that’s putting feedback into action.

5. Empower reps with powerful sales tools

In an effort to boost the productivity and performance of managers and reps, many sales organizations have implemented a variety of tools into their tech stacks. But those well-intentioned initiatives often create more issues than they resolve, as multiple, disconnected systems create data silos, workflow bottlenecks, and a frustrated workforce. Managers and reps waste time toggling between myriad apps to complete their daily work, valuable data is lost, and the business misses out on key insights that could otherwise drive better decisions.

Competitive sales companies have instead taken a more strategic approach to their salestech stacks, with powerful tools that offer sales-minded capabilities — and can be seamlessly integrated with existing systems. Robust sales engagement platforms, for example, optimize a sales team's existing workflows across all of their disparate tools (e.g. CRM, email, CMS, and more), making them more efficient and productive. They provide a centralized system for communication between team members and prospects and enable reps to automate and customize their messages; all while tracking and measuring their results.

As you consider your options, make sure the engagement tool you choose also offers:

  • Sales intelligence - A strong platform tracks and monitors every call, email, and prospect a rep follows on connected social media profiles, which helps them understand which actions work, and which ones they should tweak.
  • Robust analytics - Managers and reps need a tool that helps them course-correct before it’s too late, and modern tools help them do just that. With real-time analytics that offer insights into each sales activity, managers and reps can quickly create innovative solutions to get back on track.
  • Automated tasks - Reps are busy people. Enable them to focus on higher-value tasks (ahem, selling) by automating those mundane, administrative tasks that hinder productivity and efficiency.

The right tools ensure reps are fully supported and prepared to perform at their best. And since 70% of employees say that being empowered to succeed is a critical part of their engagement, arming them with the proper technologies is absolutely essential.

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6. Use the volume versus value ratio

Most organizations break their sales team up into several different roles; and if you haven’t yet, you should. Each role (e.g. sales development reps, market response reps, account executives, customer success reps) should tackle different activities that help the team more efficiently execute the broader sales strategy.

Your highest value, most expensive people (likely your account executives) should focus on lower-volume, higher-value activities, like building relationships with customers, obtaining referrals, and securing partnerships. Lower value people (likely your sales development reps) should conduct higher-volume activities, like transforming prospects into leads. The same rule applies for leads, as well: Encourage reps to tackle fewer prospects, but ones that are most valuable.

By structuring your team members’ activities this way, you optimize each person’s time based on their expertise, experience, and workload. It makes for a more productive sales team, wherein each rep understands his or her strengths and function.

7. Enable reps with data

In the sales world and beyond, data is everything. Today, the entire practice of sales is based around the buyer; and since customer expectations are on the rise, it’s vital to have data-backed insights into their emotional responses to each sales activity. 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious, so reps must rely on more than traditional, outdated buyer signals like online forms or free trial signups) to understand buyer intent.

Give your reps a leg up on the competition with technology that measures their efforts in real-time through buyer sentiment analysis. Sales enablement tools with these capabilities go far beyond buyer behavior and identify emotional responses — whether positive, negative, objections, referrals, or unsubscribes. Using these insights, reps can adjust the format and content of their messages to better reach buyers when and how they want to be reached.

Instead of spinning their wheels trying to determine why a particular message did or did not work, reps can quickly identify and resolve issues or replicate their success. They can then share key learnings with colleagues, ensure alignment across departments (e.g. marketing), and work to create a more cohesive, exceptional customer experience.

8. Set high but realistic goals

When we think about goals in the context of sales, we tend to focus on quotas, number of deals, and other high-value tasks that align with broader business objectives. While these are all certainly essential, it’s important to also encourage reps to achieve other types of goals, too — like future career ambitions, learning new skills, and personal plans, too.

Managers should sit down with reps to discuss these different types of goals, then help them draw out a specific plan for reaching them. This demonstrates a manager’s commitment to:

  • Understand what motivates each rep
  • Provide support, both personally and professionally
  • Push reps to perform their best work and drive the company forward
  • Consider each team member as a valuable, capable piece of the broader sales operation
  • Engage team members by focusing on what matters to them

Regardless of the types of goals you set for each rep (or they set for themselves), make sure they’re challenging, yet realistic. It’s important to encourage reps to reach for the stars, but don’t set them up for failure or disappointment by measuring them against unreasonable standards. For performance-based objectives, make sure you align each goal with a specific metric (and one that’s associated with overall team or business targets), so you can always determine whether they’re missing, meeting, or exceeding expectations.

To easily keep track of everything and ensure your reps are accountable, implement a tool that offers dynamic, daily dashboards for monitoring performance. That way, you can quickly intervene, as necessary, with personalized coaching that propels reps closer to their goals.

9. Create a mutual action plan template

It’s no longer enough to tell prospects to buy your product or service: You must also tell them exactly how to buy your product or service. Why? Because without a shared plan and mutual understanding of the buying process, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to create a collaborative, transparent customer experience. Plus, it’s much more challenging to set expectations and track progress; both of which are crucial for a higher close rate and more accurate forecasting.

Make sure your reps are always on the same page with buyers by developing a mutual action plan (MAP) template, which, in short, is a shared document that facilitates collaboration between customers and sellers. You can build MAPs (sometimes called success plans or go-live plans) in traditional tools, like spreadsheets — but keep in mind that this requires a significant time investment, a razor-sharp focus on every detail, and a separate tool for updating both parties on approaching deadlines and other vital information.

Fortunately, some sales engagement tools have made the process easier and more efficient, with functionalities for customizable templates and seamless access to a shared portal. Buyers and sellers can instantly access up-to-date milestones, deadlines, and statuses, and quickly share and store documents and data. Since everyone is working off of the same plan, reps and managers can improve forecasting based on mutually accepted proposals, due dates, and timelines. By optimizing MAPs with intelligent tools, sales teams increase their efficiency, improve the customer experience, and dramatically shorten the sales cycle.

10. Hold effective sales team meetings

Consistent, impactful sales team meetings are crucial for aligning your sales team with departmental goals and larger business objectives. They’re also the perfect place for executing team-wide training, building morale, engaging reps, sharing best practices, celebrating wins, and fostering a collaborative mindset.

But sales team meetings are only effective if managers conduct them properly, and doing so requires some significant preparation. Managers should create and follow specific sales meeting agendas to ensure reps know what’s expected of them, boost participation, and avoid those pesky tangents that can derail the conversation.

Building a template for your agenda can help, but filling in that agenda for each meeting can become a labor-intensive, time-consuming task if you don’t have the proper tools. To make the process more efficient, invest in software that helps managers and leaders quickly collect and analyze key data (e.g. performance metrics, big wins, pipeline health, etc.) and easily assign and track resulting action items for each rep. Even better if the tool you choose allows managers to use those insights to eliminate workflow inefficiencies and drive more predictable outcomes. That way, they can turn sales meetings into valuable opportunities for improvement.

Enable Your Sales Reps to Focus on Meaningful Activities

When developing a sales team management strategy, it can be difficult to know where to start. But in order to engage reps, empower them to reach their goals, and maintain a competitive edge, leaders and managers must invest in the right approach — and the proper tools for support.

The mark of a good management strategy is one that allows team members to shift their attention to higher-value tasks, like providing an excellent customer experience and selling more. By implementing a modern sales engagement tool, sales teams can automate and scale manual workflow tasks for improved productivity, efficiency, and performance.

Sales Execution Platform helps sales teams manage workflows, gain meaningful insights, and refine their buying process in real-time. With software that helps teams make the best decisions across every moment in the sales cycle, entire teams can build more effective strategies, and drive better results.

Learn more about how to choose a platform that can generate predictable revenue and close the sales execution gap, or request a demo today.