In a world that is rapidly globalizing and becoming more digital, an increasing number of businesses have made the decision to outsource their sales team. By making the decision to outsource this essential component of your business, you may be able to decrease the cost of selling and also extend your overall reach. As a result, managing an outside sales team can effectively improve your business’ bottom line.
However, while outsourcing your sales team can certainly be quite beneficial, it will also present your business with a very distinctive set of challenges. In order to overcome these challenges, you will need to develop a very direct and hands-on management style.
In this article, we will discuss some of the most important things your business can do to effectively manage your outside sales team. By making an active effort to your team engaged, focused, and actually motivated, you will be able to achieve your long-term sales goals.
1. Communicate with your Sales Team on a Regular Basis
If your team is located in different parts of the country (or even the world), making sure you are always on the same page will be incredibly important. In order to do this, it is crucial to maintain a regular line of communication with each of the individual team members. Scheduling a phone call for the beginning and end of each week is an easy way to get started. You may also want to consider digital meetings (such as Skype) that will have each active team member involved. This will also help build a greater sense of comradery.
2. Establish Clear, Attainable Goals
In order to determine whether things have been going well or whether they’ve been going poorly, your team will need to establish clear and attainable goals. Using the SMART Goal model—pursuing goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound—can help assure your team develops goals that effectively help your organization. Having clear goals will also establish a greater sense of accountability for those who are working from a distance.
3. Be Willing to Offer your Sales Team Incentives
Finding creative ways to incentivize your team will be crucial for your long-term success. Without a clear and tangible reason to keep selling (“helping our bottom line” is likely not enough), it can be very easy for your team to begin losing its sense of motivation. Offering cash incentives in the middle of the week can help inspire your team to finish the week strong. Additionally, noncash incentives—added vacation days, going on a trip, company car, watch, etc.—can also be incredibly effective. For the incentive system to actually work, each item should be tied directly to a specific action (such as achieving certain sales numbers).
4. Verbally Recognize Successes
While the incentive system mentioned above is one of the best ways to motivate your employees, verbally recognizing their success will also be very important. If you are not seeing your sales team on a daily basis, it can be very easy to lose the essential “human connection” and motivation will decline as a result. Simple verbal recognition, “nice work this week”, “keep it up”, etc., can have a lasting impact on a sales person’s attitude.
5. Ask for Feedback from your Team
One of the best ways to effectively lead a team is to establish a two-way channel of communication. In other words, instead of only telling your team what they should be doing, you should also be asking for ways to make things better. You might be surprised what your sales team is able to come up with.
6. Build a Reliable Set of Resources
No matter what your business is selling, it will be important for your sales team to be as educated about the product (or service) as possible. Building a reliable set of business-specific materials—books, pamphlets, guidelines, etc.—will help make it easier for your team to look up whatever it is they need to know. This may make the difference between closing a sale and letting a client get away.
7. Keep your Sales Team Up to Date
If your business is an industry that is rapidly changing, then that means your general “body of knowledge” will need to be constantly evolving in response. Having periodic reviews of changes and trends in the industry will be necessary in order to remain competitive. Issuing a brief, weekly newsletter for each of your team members will help assure their understanding of the industry is entirely up to date.
8. Help your Team Develop their Skills
In order to help each of your team members realize their full potential, you will also need to help them hone the many different skill sets involved in sales. For example, walking through specific sales situations can help your team get the practice they need in order to distinguish themselves out in the field. When the most common objections do inevitably emerge out in the field, every member of your sales team will be ready to appropriately respond.
9. Create a Detailed Job Description
Naturally, doing well at anything will first require you to know your specific role. If a member of your team is not sure exactly what their role is—for example, are they a salesperson or a company representative?—then it will be impossible for them to know what they are expected to do. Creating a job description that clearly identifies each specific responsibility, protocol, and individual goals will help your employees do their jobs effectively.
10. Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
Lastly, effectively managing an outside sales team will require you to develop an active list of key performance indicators (KPI). Instead of solely focusing on final sales, for example, your team may want to create a list of the actions and outcomes that can result in sales. This may include KPIs such as leads generated, clients contacted, appointments scheduled, and various others. The KPIs that are most relevant for your business will depend on the specific industry you are currently operating in.
If you have been tasked with managing an outside sales team, you may find yourself immediately overwhelmed. However, while managing a sales team is certainly a hands-on process, there are quite a few actionable steps that can make your role much easier. By keeping these necessary tips in mind, you can help push your outside sales team to realize its full potential.
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