There’s far more to managing a high performing sales team than most people think. It’s actually something of an art form, where managers need to strike the right balance between motivating and potentially overloading their team.

Exceptional sales management isn’t of course something you can learn overnight, and there are also certain attributes and skills that make a great sales managerForbes.com lists the most important ones as mentoring, following processes and acknowledging success. However, here are 5 very useful tips to start you thinking down the right lines:

  1. Streamline processes. Just because something has always been done a certain way, it doesn’t mean that has to continue for ever – just for the sake of tradition. A good manager can streamline processes to remove obstacles for their team and improve the efficiency of the whole system. This allows your sales team to get on with what they do best, without drowning in paperwork.
  2. Set up pathways and processes for success. While following the tip above to make existing processes easier, sales managers may want to look at giving underperformers more stringent standardised processes to follow. A recent study found that the majority of high performing sales reps said that their systems were monitored, strictly enforced and automated, the exact opposite of what underperforming reps said.
  3. Offer more freedom and autonomy. Sales professionals work to deadlines, but they don’t always respond well to hard rules. The danger is that they spend their creative energy finding ways to break them. You may find that the best way to motivate your team is to give them more freedom and autonomy to find their own solutions.
  4. Recognise success. Not all sales professionals are purely motivated by money. What many crave is respect and recognition, which is why it’s crucial as their manager to give a pat on the back even for small wins. You can even set up a recognition scheme beyond the normal financial rewards, to give your team an extra goal to shoot for. You can even try something a little unconventional, like sales executive and educator Jeff Hoffman describes in a Hubspot blog:

“Try a sales contest where the prize or a mid-way bonus is … you! You will work for the leading rep for a few hours doing whatever they direct you to — calls, demos, presentations, etc. Not only does this motivate your team, it also shows you aren’t afraid to roll up your sleeves and get in the trenches. Plus, it’s fun.”

  1. Understand the individual needs of your team. What you’ll notice about the advice given on improving your sales management technique (including the tips above) is that it often seems to contradict itself. This is, of course, because no two sales reps are the same. The key to being a fantastic sales manager is to get under the skin of your reps, to understand exactly what motivates and drives each member of your team.

If you want to learn more about how to hone your skills and strategies as an effective sales manager, the Institute of Sales Management should be your first port of call. Read about the  benefits of ISM membership here.