Sales performance: Why it matters and what managers can do about it
As a manager, you play a critical part in your team’s sales performance. Find out what a sales expert says about a manager’s role.
Published December 3, 2020
Last updated March 24, 2022
Maybe you’ve heard it before: “People don’t quit their job; they quit their managers.”
Bad managers can make your work life miserable. But the reverse is also true: good managers (and sales productivity solutions) can boost a team’s productivity and morale. In sales performance, it’s especially true.
Sales is a naturally competitive environment, attracting strong personalities and promoting reps that are tough go-getters. But it’s not the rep's sole responsibility to meet quotas.
Good managers are responsible for setting their team up for success. It’s their job to invest in their reps’ growth, inspire them to reach sales goals, and unify the team.
Why is sales performance important?
Before talking about what managers can do to help their team’s sales performance, you have to know why sales performance matters in the first place.
Performance impacts your bottom line
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: the better your sales performance, the better your business will run.
Focusing on your sales performance is a way of making sure you’re giving a top-notch customer experience. In order to secure more sales, agents have to be connecting well with customers.
Tracking your sales performance also sets you up to meet or exceed your company’s revenue goals. The formula is pretty simple: the more sales your reps close, the more revenue your company generates.
Performance gives your team something to chase
Sales performance is about more than just maximizing your profits. It’s also an important element of career growth for yourself and your reps.
Tracking performance metrics is a great way to measure your progress as a sales team. You can use data such as each rep’s appointment-setting rate or conversion percentage to set individual goals for your team members. These individual “micro goals” give your agents something to work toward and serve as a quantifiable measure of success.
Sales agents are naturally competitive, but healthy competition is productive.
"No one wants to be the one guy on the team constantly underperforming," says Josh Bean, Director of Product Marketing for Zendesk Sell. "Being around other successful reps can boost the entire team’s performance."
Because sales people are naturally competitive, they want to succeed and win. Focusing on performance gives them a goal to work toward and an opportunity to “win.”
“Winning, success, even hitting your quota is this contagious thing. If you're in an environment where the expectation is to win, no one settles for just getting it done.”
Josh Bean, Director of Product Marketing, Zendesk
3 tips to help managers improve their team’s sales performance
How, exactly, should managers be contributing to their team’s sales performance? Check out Bean’s three tips to get started.
Tip #1: Focus on developing the best team, not hiring the best people.
A manager’s job, first and foremost, should be to invest in their reps’ growth and development.
A quick Google search turns up a flood of articles on hiring “sales rock stars.” But Bean doesn’t think rock stars are the key to stellar team-wide sales performance.
“I think of it like sports,” Bean says. “You have your first-round draft picks that will automatically make the team. Those are the sales ‘rock stars.’”
But Bean goes on to say that the true value lies in the mid- to late-round draft picks others may overlook.
Don’t fill your team’s roster with only top-performers. Look for reps who are passionate about the business and are willing to work hard to improve. Rock stars don’t always make the best teammates, so strive for an even mix of show horses and workhorses for the best team.
“That top 1% of salespeople will just go and chase a check,” Bean says. “It's okay to hire the guy who's not the perfect athlete. Find that middle segment, and help them evolve and develop.”
Once you’ve chosen your team, encourage them to collaborate instead of compete. Sales is naturally competitive, – but the competition shouldn’t be between your reps.
Bean recommends putting your rock-star reps in mentorship roles with newer or struggling reps to build camaraderie.
“If you have one rep with a 19% conversion rate and another with a 14% conversion rate, don’t pit them against each other,” Bean says. “Encourage the top performer to share their strategies and templates to help the other rep.”
Tip #2: Process setting is the key to problem-solving.
As a manager, establishing common processes for the whole team to follow is key to team alignment and unity.
“It’s your job to set a goal, get your team aligned on it, decide how you’ll measure progress on that goal, and make sure everyone’s working together to reach it,” Bean says.
Having clear processes in place aligns your team, and keeps your rock stars from going rogue. It also gives your reps and you, as the manager, clear accountability and a road map for success.
Building a clear, definable, actionable sales process is a powerful tool for team alignment and for your bottom line. For more on this, check out our detailed guide on building clear sales processes.
Tip #3: Use the right CRM to empower your reps.
The technology your team uses – specifically, their customer relationship management (CRM) platform – should help them work more efficiently and intuitively than they ever could before.
Bean says you’ll know you’re using the right tools if they aren’t at the center of what your reps do. The tools should help you get the job done, not prevent you from doing it.
“You don't hear a carpenter complaining about how hard their hammer is to use,” Bean says. “And that's the way that your sales tools should be as well: you shouldn't have to fight with them; and when you need them, they should support you.”
If you’re on the hunt for new sales software, always opt for a free trial first. Make sure the tool works for your team before making a big financial commitment.
But there’s more to that than picking the right sales CRM. There’s a lot of options out there, and the right choice for you will be based on your team size and business needs. Be sure to compare CRMs on usability, price, and features to find the right fit.
Exceptional sales performance depends on management
Great management is critical to your team’s sales performance. Today’s managers should focus on supporting their teams with the tools they need to succeed, because that’s the key to better performance.
Picking the right sales CRM is a key way for a manager to improve their team’s performance. If you’re ready to arm your reps with a powerful CRM, start your free trial of Zendesk today.