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5 Million-Dollar Strategies Companies Use to Manage Their Sales Force Most companies traffic in innovative products but outdated selling methods. Here's how you can fix that.

By Danny Wong

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Dennis Ku |

We at Tenfold often see companies offering innovative products and services and then relying on conventional, outdated methods to sell them. Thankfully, however, your own sales management processes don't have to languish in the past.

Related: 3 Best Practices of All-Star Sales Forces (Infographic)

Many leaders across a diverse collection of sectors are introducing creative techniques for managing sales teams. By heeding their example and incorporating innovative strategies into your own sales management philosophy, you can ensure that your sales effort matches the distinctiveness of your products.

Innovative hiring strategies

The first step on the road to more efficient sales management is deciding how to get the best people on your team to begin with. While some entrepreneurs neglect to take a direct role in many hiring decisions (especially when it comes to non-management positions), being present and actively involved throughout the process is a crucial facet of the job.

B2B salespeople will be the face-to-face representatives of your company dealing with many other organizations, so these hiring decisions should not be taken lightly.

Unfortunately, the traditional interviewing structure -- two to three rounds of interviews perhaps with a skills competency test added in -- is not an efficient method for finding the most talented salespeople. Interviewing with a company is itself a specific skill at which many people excel, and while it does somewhat involve "selling" yourself, it does not automatically equate to success on the job.

The same rule applies in reverse: Just because someone lacks many of the qualities of a traditionally polished interviewee does not mean he or she can't be a top performer.

Forward-thinking leaders recognize these issues and are changing the hiring game by employing data-based assessment tests and rankings based on objective measurements. They understand that you should not trust a core process of your business to someone just because he or she knows how to smile confidently and carry on a conversation.

Related: It's All About Accountability For Sales Managers

Reimagining the structure of incentive programs

Motivation is one of the most notoriously difficult aspects of sales management. Every team is composed of a diverse group of people with varying wants and needs. To make things even more complex, what motivates one person can change according to the day. The natural solution for most business owners, then, is financial incentives. Those owners assume that these are the rewards most likely to motivate most salespeople to be top performers.

But often this leads to one single salesperson or a small cluster of salespeople monopolizing these incentives, leaving a considerable portion of the team under-motivated and dissatisfied.

To tackle this issue, business owners have discovered that there is a wide range of potential incentives that can motivate all members of the team to reach their top potential; and many of them will even save the company money, over the traditional, financial incentives.

Consider offering your employees a choice upon winning an incentive prize, including options such as additional time off, professional development opportunities, specific accounts, a special lunch out and more.

Tracking advanced metrics

It has been over a decade since Michael Lewis's Moneyball told the story of a baseball general manager using advanced data analytics to look for players with undervalued skills. And we have seen that many of the principles explained in the book can be translated to sales strategy as well.

Ordinary metrics such as calls per day and minutes per call are a decent starting point, but they alone are not comprehensive enough to paint a complete picture of the skills of any particular sales rep. So, consider incorporating lesser-used metrics into your performance tracking, such as voicemail-return rate, dial-to-opportunity percentage and dials-to-appointments ratio. Just remember to be up-front with your team about which metrics are being monitored, and why they are important to the success of the company.

Real-time data monitoring

Ubiquitous cloud technology has made it possible for managers to evaluate sales performance metrics in real time, which has been a great boon for creative team leaders who constantly seek new ways to increase productivity.

It is now easier than ever to see immediately which area of a salesperson's skill set is lacking and move to correct it with proper coaching. Long gone are the days when you were forced to wait for monthly or even quarterly performance results and make up for weeks of time spent with lingering productivity issues.

In-depth, continual sales management coaching

Too many sales managers are handed the reins to a team and expected to implement a robust coaching program, while C-level team members ignore their duty to properly coach the manager. Well-prepared, talented sales managers can be the key to keeping an entire sales operation running at peak efficiency.

Related: Dialing for Dollars: Same Goal, Different Approach

Providing them, therefore, with ongoing and substantive coaching is one of the best ways to facilitate that efficiency. Coaching will not only train the manager to respond decisively to issues that arise within the sales team but will help them to feel more invested in your company and its vision.

Danny Wong

Entrepreneur, marketer and writer.

Danny Wong is an entrepreneur, marketer and writer. He is the co-founder of Blank Label, an award-winning luxury menswear company, and leads marketing for Receiptful, a platform to supercharge all customer interactions for eCommerce stores, and Tenfold, a seamless click-to-dial solution for high-performance sales teams. 

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