Not every company needs a sales manager, but some companies will never grow without one.
Determining if your organization needs to change (or add) sales management depends on how effectively your business runs. I’ve seen companies with two salespeople that need a manager. I’ve seen companies with 15 salespeople that didn’t need one.
On this quick self-evaluation, agree or disagree with each statement to see where you fall:
- Each member of my sales team is efficiently busy with new and ongoing business.
- We add new business faster than old business leaves us.
- Our current clients would be as happy with another salesperson from our company as the one they’re dealing with now.
- We close more than 50% of the new business we pursue.
Could you agree with every statement? If not, it’s time to reevaluate your need for sales management.
4 Signs You Need A Sales Manager
1. You Can’t Predict Your Sales Numbers
When you can no longer predict your sales volume or margin, you need a designated sales manager. You should have a clear grasp of what’s in your pipeline, how busy you’ll be in a given period, and what kind of money you should be making. We need to be able to predict these factors to run our companies well.
If you can’t make smart business decisions because your sales pipeline is unclear to you, it’s time for sales management.
2. No One Reviews Your Proposals
When proposals routinely go out without management review, it’s time for a sales manager. Someone should provide oversight to major proposals coming from your business, What should they be looking at? Let’s start with: is this something we should be pursuing?
3. Customers Know How to Get Around Your System
You should be able to provide a consistent face to your customers and prospects. Every customer can be treated well without every deal being customized. Managed teams deliver better service, negating the need for endless special requests.
4. Your Old Business Keeps You From Finding New Business
If managing old business gets in the way of finding new business, it’s time for a sales manager. In other words, if you’re so busy handling jobs you’ve sold from a sales position that you don’t have time to develop new business, we have a problem that sales management can likely help solve.
What Does A Sales Manager Do?
They don’t sell.
A sales manager is not a salesperson. An effective sales manager is an administrator. They’ll provide leadership and administration. They’ll have financial and sales support aptitude to help salespeople be more productive. They might have the ability to close, but ideally, they focus on managing the pipeline well.
They oversee the sales process.
Sales managers need to understand the sales and marketing life cycle.
If you have the right manager in place, they’ll properly manage the marketing, sales, and delivery components of this process. They’ll ensure your prospects and customers receive ample attention in each stage of the sales process. Then, you can maximize every opportunity that comes your way.
They analyze current business.
A sales manager also has to analyze current sales numbers. When I start working with an organization, I ask basic questions like, “What were your sales for last year?” Often, no one — not even the owner — can answer.
Sales managers should be able to answer valuable questions like:
- What percentage of your revenue is new business? What should it be?
- What are your margins on new customers compared to old? What should they be?
- Who are your best sales producers? Why?
It’s this type of analysis that helps us plan and operate our companies better.
They coach the sales team.
The sales team needs advice and coaching — even if they don’t admit it. A sales manager holds the team accountable for following through and following up. They coach the team through the sales and marketing life-cycle.
Then, they make sure the loop starts over again when a job is done. After each job is finished, salespeople should find a way to stay in touch with clients until they’re needed again. A sales manager makes sure that happens.
Who Should Be Your Sales Manager?
Choosing your perfect sales manager can feel overwhelming. However, when you eliminate some tempting options and provide a clear understanding of the role, the right person for the job may be closer than you realized.
Here’s who the sales manager is not:
1. Not your best salesperson.
The last thing you want to do is make your best salesperson your sales manager. A sales manager is an administrator, coach, and a big-picture person — don’t ruin your best salesperson by giving them that title and putting them in charge of salespeople who are not as good as they are. They won’t make other salespeople better — but they will continue to be great salespeople if you let them sell.
2. Not your business development person.
It’s difficult to fill management roles in small companies when you don’t have enough money to hire all the people you need. But let’s think about it — the role of a business development person is to go out and bring business back to your sales team to process. You can’t manage a sales process if you’re building business in the field. In fact, you shouldn’t even see a good business development person in the office without a client. Don’t make them your sales manager.
The best sales manager is someone who understands and implements process, flexibly manages policy, and helps close some deals. Sales managers work on behalf of the team and the organization.
Who can do all this? (Especially if you have a small business and can’t afford another employee?)
Some of the best sales managers are you — the owner. Not every owner wants to step into this role, but in small companies, you may be the best source of leadership for a sales team that needs direction and oversight.
How is your company doing? Don’t let a lack of leadership hold you back. A sales manager who oversees process, policy, and projections may be just what you need to take your organization to the next level.