The Ins and Outs of Managing a Sales Team



If you’re managing a sales team, you know how difficult it can be to keep everyone on track.

One of the biggest questions when it comes to sales team management has to do with the approach: is results-based management or activity-based management best?

Let’s first take a look at each.

Activity-Based Management

At it’s most basic, activity-based management focuses on one thing: activity. It prescribes a specific action plan for everyone on your team. This type of plan usually includes a specific number of actions your salespeople must complete—a pre-defined number of sales calls, appointments, and demos.

The problem with this approach is that it’s a one size fits all type of system. Even though your sales reps have their own strengths and weaknesses, they all have to follow the same plan. This leaves no room for creative sales approaches or trying new things; leading to a stifled sales process that continues to be followed whether it’s working or not.

Results-Based Management

Enter results-based management. This is a much more practical, and effective, approach to managing a team. As renowned sales pro Jim Keenan puts it, this type of management “gives people ownership and the ability to approach a problem the way they see fit… it embraces peoples unique perspective on solving the problem and getting the desired results. It gives them freedom.”

Think about it this way: while some of your reps may be better at social prospecting, others may prefer in-person networking. A results-based system allows each to manage their process in the way that works best for them, provided they produce certain results.

3 Tips for Managing a Sales Team

Now that you know the two general types of sales management approaches, here are some things to keep in mind while you manage.

1. Don’t Over Manage

This might sound counter-intuitive, but it’s crucial to developing a team that can self assess and be self-reliant. If you feel yourself being pulled in too much, take a step back and see how your team addresses the issues at hand. Once their approach is revealed, you can remedy and coach accordingly.

2. Motivate Your Team

Don’t solely rely on deadlines and metrics to drive performance. Find other ways to motivate and reward salespeople that are specific to the rep and the accomplishment.

3. Communicate Openly

Open, clear communication is essential to any sales team’s success. Make sure your reps know what is expected of them as well as when those expectations need to be met. By making your expectations clear and providing your team with a thorough timeline, you’ll avoid setbacks and surprises while allowing for personal accountability and responsibility.

Closing Thoughts

Managing a sales team—like managing any team—is bound to have its challenges. By deciding your management approach from the outset and utilizing the above three tips, however, you’ll be able to hit the ground running and/or get your team back on track.