Sales Force Management

Written by BK Shaw
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One component essential to the success of a company is effective sales force management. A company is as successful as its sales force unless the product sells itself. Since very few companies enjoy that luxury, and even the ones that might still have sales forces in place, it's crucial to be efficient if one is to gain a competitive edge. In my experience, the better managed the sales force, the bigger the profits for the company at the end of the day.

Managing a sales force effectively starts with the person in charge of the sales operation. Although I have always respected sales managers who worked as hard as me in the trenches, I realize that there are a variety of additional skills the manager must have to generate long term success for a company. It is not enough that the sales manager be able to sell customers on the benefits of the company's product. He or she must be able to manage people, as well as exhibit excellent organizational ability and be able to formulate and execute sales plans.

Regardless of the size of company, it all starts with an idea. The idea can only blossom with effective planning and follow through. The concept of planning your work and working your plan is not a new one. If sales goals are to be reached, and those in turn will drive the company closer to reaching its goals, it is imperative that effective planning be part of any sales force's management vision.

Sales Plans for Effective Sales Force Management

Effective planning should be encouraged at every level of the organization. A company should have a vision, a mission statement and every action should be made in the interest of furthering the company towards its goal. This means each individual of a well managed sales force should have a business plan outlining objectives he or she wants to achieve. Very often, these objectives will be in the form of revenue goals.

Every sales person should have a road map describing the necessary steps he or she will need to take to accomplish the set objectives. An integral component of these plans should be established deadlines. Maybe these objectives will require the cooperation of people in other departments. The process of putting plans down on paper and having sales people think through exactly how they will reach their goals brings the company as a whole closer to reaching its goals.

Daily plans should be a part of accomplishing objectives and will be made more effective if the sales person is held accountable for them. The daily sales plan helps to keep the sales person focused. Additionally, it makes bigger goals easier to accomplish by making them more manageable in the sales person's eyes. People have to believe they can reach their goals, for without that belief, they will dwindle into a self-fulfilling prophecy of self- defeat.

Organization of a Sales Force

There must always be an effective and responsive chain of command if a sales force is to be managed effectively. Sales forces run smoother when they are organized similarly to how the military operates in terms of chain of command. Ideally, a manager--whether it's the sales manager in charge of the entire sales force or a middle manager--will not have more than five people reporting to him or her directly.

In this way, communication will be efficient as senior management will not be needlessly pestered with day to day difficulties. They can focus on the bigger picture goals of the sales force, while middle management can provide the proper support to the individual sales people. The sales person has an accessible manager, who because of an appropriate work load can devote the time and attention necessary to help the sales person reach his or her full potential. Thus, the company can effectively develop and keep a consistent sales force without the hiring and firing so prevalent in today's corporate world.


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