It’s a well-known fact that all CEOs are sellers at heart. You have to be – as CEO, it’s your job to continuously “sell” your product or services, both to your clients and to your own employees. But being a seller and managing a sales team are completely different skills.
Your company’s sales team is your growth engine. Manage it well, and you’ll consistently pull in new business for your bottom line. Manage it incorrectly, and you’ll squander your main driver of growth.
As the CEO of a growing company, I’ve managed many iterations of sales teams and I know the ins and outs of what makes sellers tick. Follow these tips to focus and manage your sales team to get the most out of your growth potential.
Clarify what your success metrics are and stick to them.
Your success metrics need to be as closely tied to outcomes as possible. Yes, it’s important to track weekly email outreach and weekly meetings (in-person and virtual), but make sure you’re also laying out clear quarterly revenue goals for the team as a whole and each individual seller. I like to provide sellers with both annual and quarterly revenue goals, as well as give them a reach goal that they should strive to hit. Remember, emails and meetings are only as productive as the revenue they generate. Clarify with your team from the start how their performance will be measured and what meeting (or not meeting) these metrics will result in.
Track everything, early and often.
Whichever CRM you’re using should be your main source of truth. Log everything. Every email, every meeting, every RFP – even notes on client conversations should make their way into your CRM of choice. Once you have all this data in one place, it’ll be far easier for you to use that data to compare sales people and make recommendations on how to optimize performance. For example, this data can be used to optimize the subject lines and bodies of your emails to garner the highest open and reply rates. If you don’t track it, you can’t optimize it.
No, it doesn’t need to be a car or a set of steak knives. Tap into the competitive nature of your sales team by being transparent: send weekly seller leaderboards showing which people have had the most meetings in the last week, or pulled in the most new business. When it comes to compensation, stick to a rigid, transparent and simple sales compensation structure. Ideally, compensate your salespeople based on net revenue (eg gross revenue less cost of goods sold) rather than gross revenue, so they are incentivized to sell profitable work. Finally, establish explicit revenue levels for each title in your sales organization so your team has goals to strive for to get their next promotion.
Not all sellers are created equal.
Like any other specialty, there isn’t one type of personality that is successful in sales, and the best sales managers understand that every personality requires a different management style. I’ve seen sellers that require daily check-ins to ensure they’re hitting their weekly goals and I’ve seen sellers that would balk at that level of micro-management. Understand that it’s not always the most sociable, outgoing person that makes the best seller, and a diversity of approach and personality is a boon to any sales team. Sales is about offering prospective clients a solution to an important problem – and as long as a salesperson works hard, listens actively, and is an active problem solver, they can be successful.
Managing a sales team is no easy task. Yet if you follow these tips, your sales team will run like a well-oiled machine and bring in consistent revenue for your company.