How to optimize sales management
The success of a company is measured by the number of products sold and thus the income received. Responsibility for the effectiveness of the sales strategy rests largely with sales managers. They must know the market thoroughly, work on development plans, attract new customers and be able to work with subordinates. There are really many complex tasks for a person in such a position. In this article, you’ll learn which techniques and tools can help you optimize your workflow and increase the efficiency of your entire team.
Sales Manager Job Responsibilities
Let’s take a closer look at what a sales manager is responsible for. Of course, this position is directly related to sales. However, it is only a general area in which such professionals work. They have many different responsibilities:
drawing up and following a sales strategy;hire and supervise sales representatives;set goals and monitor their performance;coach sales team;collaborating with other business units.
In this position, not only hard but also soft skills are required of an employee. It is vital to have extensive market knowledge, be able to work in a team and delegate responsibilities, constantly monitor performance using sales dashboards and regularly propose progressive changes. However, developing personal, professional and leadership skills may not be enough to improve the performance of the entire department. You can take some important steps to make your team more efficient.
Why optimize workflows?
The current situation in the market and in one of its niches is changing rapidly. Now it is not enough to develop a strategy and just stick to it. It is important to adapt to business trends, consumer needs and the actions of competitors. Therefore, it may be necessary to optimize internal processes over time. Progressive changes in work have a positive influence on the success of a company. If your activity is going well at the moment, there is no guarantee that it will remain in the same condition for several years to come.
Optimization is also essential if you have already noticed negative changes in profit or sales volumes. In such a situation, it is important to understand what exactly triggered them: the global economic crisis or the deterioration of your sales force. Sophisticated software allows you to in-depth review everything that has happened so you can identify weaknesses and take appropriate action. In general, the optimization of the work of the sales department should be performed regularly to increase profits, increase conversion rates and reduce the sales cycle and the cost of processing prospects.
How to optimize work processes
There are many techniques, methods and personal recommendations from professionals to help you on your way to optimization. In this section we have identified five main points.
Make a plan with clear KPIs
A forward-looking action plan should be at the heart of any business. The same goes for your sales department’s development strategy. Based on the market analysis, competitors and target audience, you should develop clear long-term and short-term goals, as well as a roadmap to achieve them. Thus, all subordinates will understand what to strive for.
The development of a plan also includes setting clear KPIs. Depending on the company, they may differ, but most often the following indicators are characteristic of the sales department:
the number of sales per week or month;transaction closing speed;average length of the sales cycle;the cost of attracting a customer;churn rate, and so on.
By setting up a plan, goals, and KPIs, you let your subordinates know what you expect from them. Of course, for that you need to analyze the work of a company and market trends so as not to demand the impossible from employees.
Controlling and automating processes
In some companies, especially small ones or startups, work processes do not have a clear arrangement. Employees perform tasks on a whim, as they see fit in the current situation. It is fundamentally the wrong approach. You should clearly state what action should be the next step and how many phone calls an employee needs to make to a potential customer in order to move on to the next stage. Standardizing workflows minimizes errors, helps you manage the customer lifecycle, and tracks bottlenecks.
As a sales manager, you and your representatives need to focus directly on sales. However, everyday administrative or accounting problems can distract you from it. To save time on necessary but not so important tasks, you should automate some workflows. For example, thanks to modern technology, you can send promotional emails and communicate with prospects without the direct participation of employees.
Use analytics and reports
Advanced business solutions help analyze team productivity and the effectiveness of each individual employee. Management dashboards contain data on many criteria, such as the number of transactions, the average cost of a customer, employee engagement, and so on. Advanced CRMs can also give you valuable information and insights. Not only do they allow you to track customer and transaction data, but they also show you the tasks completed by each rep and analyze overall engagement.
Such tools usually use various charts and diagrams that visualize the collected data. It’s the easiest way to analyze activity because you can instantly spot leaks, breaks, and weaknesses. Based on that, you can optimize teamwork.
Conduct an in-depth audience assessment
Such analysis should already be done before starting a business; however, to optimize the work, it will not be superfluous to run it again. Knowing the characteristics and needs of the target audience is the key to your success. As a sales manager you have to create a portrait of ‘ideal’ customers with whom long-term relationships are possible. Aside from general characteristics such as demographics, average income, and social status, you can go even further and study their habits, purchase motivations, objections, and so on.
By identifying your “ideal” consumer based on several criteria, you can understand exactly who needs you. This allows you to attract those who really need your product, making them ready for long-term collaboration. With this category of customers, upsales will be most successful in the future. To be productive at attracting prospects and working with leads, don’t forget the need to collaborate with the marketing department.
Working with representatives
In addition to regulating work processes and using modern software in production, an essential part of the job of sales managers is to train and support their subordinates. Remember, people keep the whole company. Your actions to optimize internal processes are meaningless if your employees do not have the right skills. If you are implementing a new accounting system, make sure every employee knows and understands how it works. If someone lacks qualifications, train them. Remember to praise and reward employees for performing outstanding tasks and achieving set goals to motivate them to continue working and progress.
Optimize communication to increase sales
Clear mechanical actions are essential for optimizing workflows. You need to accurately understand your team’s strengths and weaknesses and use the KPI to measure its effectiveness. Equally important, however, is healthy communication within the department. Be open to comments and suggestions from your team, and together you can develop an effective development strategy. Share your experience with sales managers. What difficulties do you run into? Which methods do you use to optimize processes?