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Sales Force Management:
How to Do it Well?

Focus on Marketing Program - Sales Training

Effective sales force management is key to successful sales. Create sales training jobs and/or responsibilities to build strong marketing program sales training. And offer your sales group a strong sales commission plan as an incentive to close sales and acquire new customers.

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To reach your sales goals focus your management efforts on sales force management.

All businesses need to sell to stay in business and to enjoy sustainable business growth.

More for small business sales techniques and strategies include sales outsourcing, sales planning, sales tracking, sales reporting and sales managing.

Develop your human resources group to provide training; create sales training jobs or train staff to deliver marketing program sales training.

Successfully focusing on sales force management will help your business focus on increasing sales, adding new customers and building a stronger relationship with existing customers.

Sales Force Management

This sales management process needs to be constantly evolving and continuously improving.

  1. Link the sales plan to the small business plan.

    And communicate the link to your sales force. For example, if the sales plan is to increase sales of a specific product by 8 per cent, then explain to your sales group how that increase impacts the planned-for profitability, the planned-for geographic expansion, the planned-for new equipment investment, and more.

  2. Plan and assign the territories or accounts based on market segmentation and target marketing.

    This includes segmenting existing customers, high value customers, high volume customers, and so on.

  3. Define what type of sales people you have employed: are they hunters or gatherers?

    Recruiting employees with the 'right' sales skills and behaviors is very important.

    The 'hunters' like to prospect and find new customers and/or new opportunities with existing customers. The 'gatherers' like to develop long-term relationships and provide service to existing accounts. Ideally, you would like to have a mix of both in your sales force.

Management of the Two Types of Sales Personalities Requires Different Strategies:

  • For hunters, set stretch goals and measurable targets (for example, 20 cold calls per week, 5 new accounts a month, $100,000 in new business annually) and pay out some of the employee compensation package in sales commissions (the compensation could be salary and commission; or salary only; or build a sales commission plan that provides commission tiers; or a commission only plan).
  • For gatherers, set service goals to have them provide increasing levels of customer satisfaction, measurable good customer service and relationship building (which can be measured through customer surveys and sales volume).

    Also have them focus on what else customers might need or want that your business could provide (in other words, new products or services).

sales label

A hunter typically is energetic; self-confident; low ego (can take rejection; a "no" without taking it personally); a great communicator; charismatic and entertaining (often is a good story teller); and results-driven (strong on closing).

A gatherer is genuinely interested in people; also a good communicator but on a deeper, almost personal, level; is interested in developing strong relationships; will have a great memory (or a good system) for birthdays, important events, history, and more; well organized and detail oriented (needs this trait to be able to improve service processes); wants the immediate sale but is more interested in the long term sales.

Both types of sales people need to be good listeners. And the reality is that both types will also have some elements of the other personality in their psyche.

Managing Your Sales Force Effectively

Once you've got the team you feel is necessary to help you sell, it's your responsibility to manage your sales force and get the most out of them.

Sales force management challenges will grow as your business grows - increasing sales volume; an increasing number of customers; growing geographical market reach; an increasing number of products or services. These are just a few of the challenges that your business will face.

Your marketing plan will change and evolve over time; your marketing program sales training also needs to be upgraded or changed over time.

Make sure that you develop systems (or purchase software systems), to measure business performance and help planning, tracking, analyzing, reporting and managing your sales force.

As the small business owner, and/or the sales manager, you need to understand how to effectively manage your sales force. You need to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each of your sales people; and then you need to capitalize on the strengths and minimize or eliminate the weaknesses.

Matching your sales people to the right customer mix is important to their, and your, success.

Your job is to train and motivate your sales staff. If you are an experienced sales person, make sure you step out of the way for your sales people; coach them, don't do it for them.

Use your human resources program to develop sales training jobs, or to ensure that performance evaluations focus on improving sales people, and sales results. And build sales commission plans to provide sales performance incentives.

Set targets and then, when they are met or exceeded, make sure that you recognize exceptional performance and exceptional sales results. Find a way to communicate that recognition, not only to the employee but also throughout the company.

The success of your business rests on the success of
your sales force management skills. Do it right.

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Additional Reading:

Return to Small Business Sales.

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Find out more about Education Sales Management, Sales Negotiation Training, and Sales Development Training.

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Selling Techniques

Successful selling experiences require using more than one technique.

Yes, face-to-face selling (particularly through relationship building) is often one of the more successful tactics.

But other techniques and strategies include building touch points and sharing information.

In other words, educating your customer or prospect on your products and services and also providing information that will help your customer in their business; making sure that your products or services are highly differentiated from competitors' offerings and communicating that differentiation effectively; and clearly understanding what your customers need in terms of value and delivering it.

Communicate with your customers and prospects in person; over the phone; through the mail (yes, letters, cards, coupons and order forms have high response rates if well designed and well executed); over the Internet through blogs, emails, social media, webinars, and your website; through print materials such as catalogues, coupon books, brochures, business cards, flyers and more.

Build your sales approach as a campaign:

Plan to make contact on a regular and frequent basis (not too frequently to the point of irritating customers or too infrequently to the point of being forgotten) and align your campaign with a strong identity program that is consistent with your brand.

Customer Relationship Management

Customer loyalty is built by giving value first in all aspects of your business. As a small business owner or manager, you need to commit to offering the best products and/or services.

Ensure that you regularly ask your customers for input and feedback (and both listen to it and act on it) to continuously improve your processes.

Your customers will respond to the value that you add, not only to the solution you propose but also to the relationship you build together.

Buyers Needs and Wants

What do customers want? Market research says that customers have an expectation of good quality, good price and good service; that is the minimum requirement for doing business today.

What more do you need to provide?

Knowledge. Reliability. Consistency. Communication. Discover what your customers value, and provide it.

Note: customers have unique and individual needs; they do not all value the same things. Make sure you clearly understand what each individual customer or market segment wants or needs.

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Sales: Making Contact

In a business to business selling environment, it used to be that it would take between seven or eight touches to make a sale (or not, since not all contact means that a prospect will buy).

In this Internet age, it takes more touches.

Why? Because we have become both 'ad blind' and somewhat 'insensitive' to touches.

What this means to the small business owner is that your communication (and touches) need to be different from others (not imitations or copies of what everyone else is doing), it needs to be believable and sincere, and it needs to be memorable.

The Sales Cycle

In a business to business sales environment, the selling cycle takes longer to close (and is often more complex) than ever before.

To effectively grow your sales, you need build a plan that will help you to optimize your efforts.

Focus your planning efforts on a lean sales process that: will solve your customer's problem or challenge; has value (i.e. reduces time and/or cost); provides not only what the customer wants but more than has been identified (over-delivering); and that provides a solution that offers convenience, high quality, a price that is acceptable, competitive and covers the business' costs, and exceptional service.