This article tells you about the essential tools and techniques that help control sales managers and maximize your sales department’s efficiency.
Sales are the key part of the business processes. It’s when a company ultimately makes real profit from all its other activities. No matter how well everyone else in your team is performing, if your sales managers aren’t doing a good job, the results won’t come. So, every executive should maintain control over their sales department – and here’s how to do it.
Two basic methods of control
The worst thing you can come up with is establishing strict direct control over the sales department by literally standing over the shoulder of every employee and watching their every move. Feeling this kind of attention from management, your people will inevitably begin to strain, and that stress will prevent them from working effectively.
That leaves you with two options:
- Creating an environment for employees to monitor themselves;
- Monitoring the sales department in a non-intrusive, hands-off way.
We recommend that you combine these two approaches by both helping managers monitor their own productivity and keeping tabs on them yourself.
Laying the foundation by organizing data collection
No matter what method you choose to implement, the first thing you need to take care of is collecting data on what your employees are busy with and how they’re handling it. You can use the following tools for that:
- CRM. The main tool is a database with all customer data – dates and times of calls, information provided by customers, order history, and so on. You can get a general sense of the situation in the sales department using CRM statistics. It helps answer the following questions. How efficient is the work process? Which managers are responsible for which customers, and what are the results of their interactions? What kind of profit do you get? The list goes on. In fact, we’ve already compiled a rating of the best CRM systems for business;
- Call trackers. These are the services that let you find out the number of calls you get from different advertising channels as well as listen to certain conversations your managers have with clients;
- Employee monitoring software. We recommend you use Kickidler and similar programs. They collect detailed information on all employee activity, down to the second-by-second estimation of time your employees spend in different apps and browser tabs. The more data you collect, the better. But remember that you definitely need the proper tools to automatically process the information you get. If you try to go through every call and look up every customer detail, you’ll only exhaust yourself.
You need to look into the customer details only during random check-ups or when there are obvious problems with a particular order or manager. Any other time, you just need to be able to view summary reports – both popular CRMs and Kickidler have all the features you may need.
Stop directly supervising your employees on a daily basis
Can something be delegated? If so, delegate it. Why oversee the results of each employee when people are capable of doing most of the monitoring themselves? It is enough for you to:
- Define clear KPIs for the sales team that they can track via CRM;
- Install modules of automatic reminders on “disturbing factors”. For example, Kickidler’s Autokick can track procrastination indicators, be it a drop in productivity, lack of activity at the computer, continuous browsing of an entertainment site, etc., and then provide an employee with a corresponding notification.
This eliminates unnecessary pressure on subordinates and eliminates the “human factor”. People will monitor their work themselves, and automation will help them with this. All you have to do is identify critical situations and work toward an overall increase in the productivity of the entire sales department.
Analyze data regularly
You need to have a clear understanding of your business goals – what is it that you want to achieve? Not just general phrases like “increasing sales and profits,” but specific goals such as:
- Reducing average time of call processing;
- Increasing Net Promoter Score;
- Raising the number of repeat callers, etc.
Then you should select a metric for each objective. Do you want to increase the number of calls your employees make in a day? Find the most productive employees in Kickidler’s statistics (Employee Rating report) and analyze the things they do and how they do it. Next, compare their data to that of the least productive managers. What’s the difference? Are there any recurring features the best ones have that the worst ones don’t (or vice versa)?
Examples of cases you need to pay attention to:
- CRM indicates that a salesperson has low sales – their customers don’t place orders – but Kickidler reports show that the employee works just as hard as anyone else. It means that either the person is not competent enough or they violate the scripts. Yes, they work long hours, but there is no result. You need to carefully review the recordings of their calls, identify the problem and conduct additional training with the employee on work standards;
- CRM shows performance results that are in the normal range, while Kickidler suggests that an employee is only working for 2-3 hours a day and spends the rest of the time procrastinating. It means that the person shows a very high conversion rate, but for some reason they’re okay with meeting the minimal KPIs. The compensation system should be reviewed, and the employee should be given a motivational talk in order to unlock their full potential;
- Both CRM and Kickidler reveal good results, however, a random check of company calls reveals that managers are constantly deviating from the company’s performance standards. It’s an indication that your instructions may not be sufficient and that employees might just be avoiding talking to management about it. Ideally, you should conduct the necessary benchmarking and evaluate how your subordinates are performing at the moment compared to how they would had they followed the scripts. Then, if necessary, tweak work processes in the company;
- CRM highlights consistently high results for a salesperson, but Kickidler reports reveal that each month they need more and more time to meet the same sales targets. It’s a definite red flag. This may indicate that the employee has taken on too much work and is now starting to go into overload, which inevitably leads to fatigue and burnout. Consider giving the employee some time off or talking to them about changing their attitude toward work.
Identifying these issues enables you to prevent problems and find potential growth points, such as providing employees with additional training on the software they use, adjusting business processes, simplifying them, and so on.
Motivate rather than punish
This is probably the most crucial piece of advice. We’ve discussed it in the post we wrote on employee control. Well-organized monitoring of the sales department provides you with a huge amount of data and illustrates all the shortcomings, such as errors or employee carelessness. Remember that the purpose of your work is not to reprimand, but to improve the quality of the department’s performance. Focus on the following points:
- Analyze examples of good performance to understand who did what right. Why exactly those were the right steps to take? What was the benefit to the company and the employee themselves?
- Create new guidelines and adjust current processes so that employees are more comfortable with them;
- Promote a culture of self-reflection and self-monitoring among salespeople.
One thing to keep in mind: yes, cutting-edge programs are great, but all they do is collect data and present it to you in a handy way. In the end, the efficiency of your sales team depends on the way you choose to use that data. Be constructive and optimistic. That’s how you get all the benefits of monitoring and avoid problems that may arise with too much control.
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