Four steps to taking the mystery out of sales team management

Sales team performance need not be a mystery, write Diego Lunardi and Cheryl Prats.

Having a sales team that gets results is integral to businesses success. That seems an easy enough goal, but how do you really know who on the sales team is really driving success and who is actually holding the team back?

It is critical that sales managers, along with senior company directors, be able to track and assess the performance of their staff. Unfortunately, too many companies do not have a quantifiable means of evaluating sales success, with recent research from data marketing firm JNR showing that 60% of businesses lack a reliable means of measuring sales performance.

Sales team performance need not be a mystery. In order to be in a position to know where your sales reps are falling in the spectrum of sales success, i.e. whose performance is stellar and whose is suspect, your company needs to take a few key steps to unravel the mystery.

1. Get on the case: What is the measure of team success?

To get an overall big picture understanding of how successful your sales team is, it is imperative that a standard set of measurement metrics are implemented. These metrics will allow you to first see whether the sales team, as whole, is hitting its daily/weekly/monthly targets. For the majority of businesses these metrics should include:

  • number of leads received,
  • number of leads converted into opportunities,
  • number of leads that progress through each stage of the sales cycle,
  • average length of the sales cycle,
  • number of sales won, and
  • total revenue.

2. Identify the key suspects: Who is killing your results?

Having relevant sales team metrics gives you the means to identify your sales stars and the suspect performers. While many sales managers have a gut instinct about who is carrying the team and who is dragging it down, sometimes intuition can turn out to be wrong. It is always best to look at the hard evidence – especially if you are going to confront a team member about poor performance. Therefore, it is important to look rather closely at the following:

  • Follow-up time – Are they getting to the hot leads fast enough? If they aren’t, then these are almost certainly the reps that are holding the team back
  • Opportunity conversion rate – A weak result here can be a big indicator that the approach being taken by the individual salesperson is lacking and needs to be addressed.
  • The time it takes to progress a lead – If they are getting stalled, then they are almost certainly failing to hit their own targets but hurting performance of the whole team.

3. Determine the motive: Why are they failing or succeeding?

Like a guilty suspect facing accusations, poor sales performers will argue the situation was beyond their control and they are merely a victim of circumstance. Not likely, but how do you prove it? If you have a standardised sales process and metrics in place, there is a clear evidence trail. The process you are monitoring should take you from lead management, to discovery, to the pitch, to demonstration, to financial commitment and, ultimately, to the close.

Looking at how an individual performs at each stage in the sales process will signal the reasons as to why they are succeeding or failing and what action you can take to help those who are struggling. For instance, poor results at the pitch or demonstration stage might indicate a need for training in these areas. A standardised process ensures that not only can you identify areas of weak sales performance but where a successful sales rep is getting top results – and, as a result, what might constitute best practice.

4. Find the weapon: Are your sales reps armed to succeed?

To unlock the clues as to why an individual or even a whole team is succeeding or struggling with sales, it is essential to have a means of capturing and reviewing the necessary metrics: a customer relationship management (CRM) solution. CRM allows sales managers to forensically analyse the data to determine precisely what actions need to be taken to improve certain performances and emulate others.

CRM not only aids sales managers but it helps sales reps improve performance themselves. Through CRM, they can take advantage of sales automation, formulate action plans and hotlist tasks, and do so both in the office and on the road via a smartphone or tablet. What’s more, continuous performance monitoring means that their progress, or lack thereof, is easy for them to track. This can be a big motivation.

You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to understand that a well-configured CRM solution makes all the necessary metrics and customer intelligence easily accessible via the dashboard, thus arming sales managers and reps to do more and get better results. Indeed, all the evidence indicates that for sales teams, CRM is the killer app.


Diego Lunardi is head of business development (EMEA) at Maximizer, and Cheryl Prats is head of sales (ANZ) at Maximizer.