Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How to Effectively Supervise Your Sales Team

Supervising sales people?
In last week's post I mentioned that in order to ensure your sales team reaches its best performance you had to do, in simple talking, two things: set realistic and achievable goals, and supervise your sales people effectively.

And supervising a sales team can pose significant challenges for you if you’re not properly trained, starting with the fact that many entrepreneurs (God forbid you’re among them) think that sales people, just because they tend to always be on a positive mood, be proactive, always moving forward and completely aware of what their next challenge might be, do not need supervision or, if they do, it’s just a little bit.

Maybe it would be the easiest thing for you: Having a sales team that generates awesome results without your intervention. And it is for sure the wish of many people, and I would even dare to think there are many whom have hired sales people hoping things would work this way.

All sales teams, whether big or small, should be supervised on an effective and proactive way.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen like that: Your sales department, like any other department in the company, is composed of people who perform a job and must meet certain, specific goals, and there must always be someone to make sure those goals are achieved, and that person most likely is yourself, or if your company has already reached a certain size, it will be your sales supervisor.

And even if you have a sales supervisor, you will be responsible for its own performance. It sounds funny, doesn’t it?

Why should you supervise your sales team?

There are three main reasons why it is your responsibility to effectively supervise the performance of your sales department, and the most important one, from my personal point of view as always, has nothing to do with the numbers:

  1. Members of your sales team are your company’s image. They are the face your customers see while doing business with your company. That’s why you must ensure the image they convey is the one you want.
  2. Your salespeople main task is to bring in money for your company, develop new business opportunities, and attract potential clients. If you don’t monitor how they are performing, you’ll never know if they could sell more, or if there is a problem you must give solution to for them to sell more. And if your sales team doesn’t make the numbers, the future of your company is at risk. Simple.
  3. It is an investment your company is doing and as such, like any other investment, must be profitable. As a rule of thumb (may vary by industry) sales manager tend to recommend that every player in your sales team should bring in at least 10 times the money the company is paying them. Although the numbers can be different, it’s a good rule to follow.

If you already have clear in your mind that you should get actively involved in the supervision of your sales team, then the most probable question in your mind is “how is that done”?

How can I monitor my sales people and do it effectively?

Before becoming an effective supervisor of your sales team, you have to know what you're supposed to be monitoring. And members of your sales team have basically two tasks they have to perform: to bring in money and generate new business opportunities for your company.

Those are the two things you have to monitor: Actual sales, and the incorporation of qualified customers to your business database. If one of these fails, you have a problem to solve.

You can then set with your sales team one weekly meeting (or two) in which you revise the results of the previous week (or the previous period for that matter), evaluate which of the proposals you have sent are closer to being decided upon and establish specific goals for the following period of time.

Once you have set clear and achievable goals, focus then your efforts on the two main tasks mentioned above: Closing sales and developing more business opportunities for your company, day after day, week after week.

Depending on the size of your sales team, a weekly meeting should be enough.

In some cases, you can concentrate more in one than the other, according to your product’s sales cycle being longer or shorter: If the cycle is too long, your team will not have the opportunity to close business frequently therefore your supervision should focus on generating new opportunities rather than the numbers themselves. If the sales cycle is short, then it goes the opposite way

In any case, and so I don’t give you too much of a runaround and help you see it clearly, if you concentrate the focus of your supervision on having your sales team carry out these two tasks efficiently (selling more and generating new business opportunities), follow up with them on a regular basis as they move along and positively on achieving the proposed goals, you'll be doing your job as a supervisor effectively, you’ll be helping your sales team to be more effective too and they will end up bringing in more money, as properly supervised sales teams usually do.

And bringing in more money for your business, will make everyone happier, wouldn’t it?

Photo credit: kbuntu / 123RF Stock Photo

Related post in this blog:
How can you motivate your sales team so they can reach their best performance?
Can a sales guy ever say he’s got nothing to do?

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