5 Ways to Reimagine Effective Sales Management

12 February 2015


The concept of sales as something that could be trained and improved upon began in the late 1800s when NCR opened the first sales training school after demonstrating their methods at a trade show. While many aspects of sales have changed in the last couple hundred years, a few things have stayed the same. One of them being that the challenging role of sales manager, with so much focus on growth and development of your team, it’s necessary to hone your craft so that you can excel in the field. When you’re a sales manager you have to walk the line of having authority over your workforce, while also maintaining close working relationships.

One thing that has changed about being a sales manager is that there are many more tools, tips, and best practices at your disposal that can make the position much easier and more enjoyable. Read on to discover five ways that can help you reimagine the ways you manage your sales team.

1. Develop cross-sellers

Expert cross-sellers are great at seeing things from varying points of view. They probably also have great communication skills and are experts at thinking outside the box. These characteristics are far more likely to help them be successful in a management role than just exceeding quota every quarter. A common practice in many sales organizations is to advance the highest performing sales rep. However, when you promote them you advance your hunter out of the field.

2. Seek out training opportunities

According to Tower Watson, 81% of managers say they received inadequate training about how to be an effective coach prior to assuming their new position. It’s never too late to learn new things, and just as your team should seek out professional development being a sales manager doesn’t mean it’s time to stop seeking out new ways of doing things and developing your skills. Ask around your network and research the best trainers and workshops in your areas.

3. Use quota relief judiciously

As a sales manager, getting asked for quota relief is likely as common as, well, the common cold. While you might regard it as a typical pain point in your job there are times when giving quota relief is not only necessary, but can be a motivating factor for your reps. If an event like a natural disaster causes the market to dip in a particular rep’s territory, then it might be wise to consider quota relief. In the long run, they’ll make up for the slow quarter, but they won’t forget that you’re a fair leader that had their back.

4. Know the power of recognition

While monetary incentives are a great way to drive the behavior you want, it isn’t the only way to motivate reps. Giving a member of your team positive reinforcement in front of the rest of your employees can go a long way. At some companies, plaques or certificates along with praise for a job well done are used to motivate and encourage reps that are knocking it out of the park. You might question how effective these free or inexpensive strategies are, but Mckinsey & Company found that, “Praise and commendation from managers was rated the top motivator for performance, beating out other noncash and financial incentives, by a majority of workers 67%.”

5. Give thoughtful rewards

It pays to make sure your incentive compensation have a personal touch. At Xactly, we had a manager who used a bottle of wine from his collection as the reward for reps that reached a certain goal. While the equivalent cash value might not have been a huge driver, the wine itself was, because the manager knew he had a few connoisseurs on his team and whoever won it would get bragging rights. These kinds of thoughtful mini-contests increase the competitive vibe in the office and drive people to move faster and get important projects done. When you offer rewards that are meaningful to the members of your team the likelihood that they’ll strive to reach the goals you set increases.

Read more about Incentive Compensation Design Plans here.



McKinsey Motivating People, Getting Beyond Money, 2009

About the Author

At Xactly Corp, Zaid Ramadan manages all Digital Marketing programs including paid campaigns and organic search.

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