During a recent podcast interview I was asked what I thought were the top five “systems or tools” that a Sales Manager needs to be successful. After thinking about all the possibilities and responsibilities that any sales leader faces I answered the question with the list below. They are not listed in any order of priority.
However, let me first say this: the most important aspect of sales management is recruiting top talent. Having the very best makes everything else happen and it must be a major focus if you have sales responsibility. Having a solid recruiting process both in finding candidates and interviewing systems is critical. It is the reason my first book was about that portion of the job.
However the systems and tools that move beyond recruitment are the following:
Quarterly Sales Training Plan. Once you have a sales team, constant attention to an organized training program becomes critical. Frequent readers of my blog or sales managers that have attended our Sales Management Boot Camp, know how important this is and that I stress this concept continually. How does it work: at the first of each quarter a plan is created showing all dates, topics and individuals responsible for the training and handed out to all the salespeople. This plan allows the Sales Manager to ensure that training is covered on 1) Sales Skills, 2) Product/Services and 3) Sales Operations. Having this kind of plan will keep the sales team sharp and improve their professionalism.
Salesperson 6-Month Business Plans. Every January and July each salesperson should create a comprehensive plan, not simply a forecast, but a document that details how they plan to achieve their goals. This plan includes their personal goals, training needs, activity plans, personal marketing and networking concepts. This will achieve at least two objectives; 1) the salespeople will be more proactive vs reactive in the marketplace and 2) it will provide the Sales Manager a coaching tool and build accountability into the team-it’s their plan!
Individual Account Plans. Much like the Business Plan, this tool allows the salesperson to be proactive in planning and understanding their Key Accounts. We recommend at a minimum each account should have a strategic objective and five tactical steps that will support the strategy. Any recommended cross-sell/up sell objectives should be defined as well. We normally recommend updating “X” number of Account Plans each quarter.
Weekly Sales Meeting Agenda. This may seem to be a minor tool, but having a disciplined well run sales meeting sets the tone for everything. I have seen hundreds of sales meetings that are not organized, run too long or miss the objective of even having a team meeting. Create a standard template and follow it. The sales team will recognize the organization and begin to respond appropriately. If you would like a sample: Ken@AcumenMgmt.com
Sales Dashboard. The Sales Leader must have a quality set of metrics to manage the accuracy of the forecast, values of the pipeline, leading indicators of activity and win/lost ratios. Obviously there could be 25 different ratios to track, we like to recommend that creating a dashboard with 5-8 should be sufficient. This allows the manager to coach individual salespeople based upon the team’s numbers and other individual performers. The effective dashboard also will create a confidence in the sales team’s ability to perform and create the science of sales management. Understanding your dashboard allows you to build in predictability of current and future sales performance.
Agree with my list? What did I miss? By building a foundation of Sales Management tools-systems you can leverage your time, scale the size of your sales organization and hit higher levels of performance.
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