Management best practice of the week:  2.5 Sales management

The sales team needs help to stay focused on—and only on—the kinds of sales that are in the plan. Good sales managers empower their team with clear sales priorities, compelling differentiators, spot-on customer profiles, a first-class CRM and efficient training. Metrics should be used for motivation and for feedback. It’s essential to communicate openly with all the other departments, particularly customer service. The “sales hero” is a dangerous myth: it’s a team sport.

Definition of sales management: “All the things you do to help your sales staff create a successful relationship with each prospect and customer.”


Practice Summary

Sales process

  • Lead generation and initial contact
  • Qualifying leads into prospects
  • Prospect needs assessment
  • Sales pitch or product demo
  • Proposal and anticipating/handling objections
  • Closing
  • Following up, repeat business & referrals

Sales pipeline (measure by expected deal value) – considerations

  • Sales cycle length – based on complexity, customization, availability of leads
  • Pipeline size – how many can be handled? What percentage expected to close?
  • Cut off time for stagnant deals


  • Not enough deals in pipeline – calculate number of prospects needed at given win rate
  • Undiversified – try to shorten sales cycle
  • Poor performance from other departments (see Best Practices) – keep them informed via CRM
  • Deals are pushed but ultimately fail from inadequate customer relations – redo needs assessment
  • Poor deal prioritization – use pipeline software that incorporates scoring
  • Deals stalled in pipeline – track time in each stage

Key pipeline metrics

  • Number of deals and total value in pipeline
  • Average deal value
  • Average win (closed) rate
  • Average sales cycle length
  • Ongoing time deal is at each stage
  • Number leads converted into prospects

3 Good Questions (discuss in a management meeting)

  1. Who other than sales staff should use the CRM?
  2. How can sales staff stay informed, focused and effective?
  3. How should our sales staff work within the organization?

Coaching is the most important role of the sales manager. Beginning with bringing a new salesperson up to speed, a manager’s support can also be essential in getting a salesperson over a slump. This effort includes reviewing the sales script, overcoming fear and renewing motivation.