Many managers who don’t have sales experience themselves often don’t feel confident when it comes to managing a sales people. Remember, you don’t need to know sales to know how to manage your sales people. Your job is to make sure their targets are clear and achievable, and to keep them accountable.

1.) Make your targets achievable

In terms of budgets, it’d be nice to determine how much money you need and work your goals backwards from there, but if those goals are unrealistic your sales person will end up disheartened, and then under-performing.

Equally, if basing sales targets on your need you might find that you are missing out on a significant amount of money as many people may pay more if asked.

Don’t set targets based on what you need, set them on what’s actually likely to happen if they work hard.

Your ability to generate income is not linked to your organisations need. It’s linked to the market perception of your product and your ability to sell it, so get as much as you can and use it to serve as best you can.

2.) Have a formal weekly meeting

The best thing you can do to keep your sales people on track is by having a formal weekly meeting where you sit down and discuss what’s happened in the past seven days, and what’s planned for the next seven. What appointments do they have lined up? How many contacts have they made? Have they done what they said they’d do? Have they followed through on tasks?

Sales people always perform better when they’ve got regular contact and accountability with their manager.

3.) Measure contacts, not just sales

We found that, generally speaking, a well performing 20 hour per week sales person will usually make around about 50 contacts per week. That’s a combination of phone, email, or in person. Sometimes if I wanted to get my numbers up, I would go door to door, which would allow me to connect with 25-35 businesses over 3hrs. Having a CRM is really important here, because you’ve got accurate data on how many contacts they’ve had, what type, and what responses. Always encourage your sales people to update their CRM daily, as it’s the best accountability there is.

The reason we suggest measuring contacts rather than just sales is because sales are a measure of something that has already happened looking backwards. The number of contacts you make, on the other hand, can give you a good indication of the likelihood of sales coming in the future.

Measuring the number of contacts made helped us to see clearly when a sales dip might be coming because a sales person wasn’t generating the number of calls they needed to make the sales budgeted.

4.) Your job as manager is to empower your people and protect them.

Find out what resources your sales person needs and make sure they’ve got the right tools. Discover what’s stopping them from doing their best and help them remove those obstacles. If you think about your role as one of empowering and providing a strong sense of accountability, then you’ll develop a strong sales force.

Be aware too that sales people work their butts off, and, because they’re separate from the station, can often feel isolated. They’re very much worth looking after and protecting. If you don’t ensure they’re cared for, then you’ll lose your people kind of quickly. Keep in touch with them, build that strong accountability, and you’ll keep good people around for a long time.