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13 Key Aspects of Sales Management

Written by:

Victoria Yu is a Business Writer with expertise in Business Organization, Marketing, and Sales, holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of California, Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business.

Edited by:

Sallie, holding a Ph.D. from Walden University, is an experienced writing coach and editor with a background in marketing. She has served roles in corporate communications and taught at institutions like the University of Florida.

13 Key Aspects of Sales Management

13 Key Aspects of Sales Management

As a new business owner, sales leader, or sales manager, you might not have the knowledge or the experience you need when it comes to directing your resources, managing sales representatives, and guiding business operations in a way that brings in the most sales for your business. 

Sales management is a fine science, and it can be hard for beginners to know where to start. If you’ve been tasked with building the sales department of a business from the ground up, don’t panic. Making That Sale has created this handy sales management guide to provide what you need to make managing sales as painless as possible. Within the pages of this guide, we will walk you through the three fundamental areas of sales management while explaining the 13 key aspects of each element.

Key Takeaways

  • A company’s sales management system describes how its managers develop and guide sales teams to meet the business’s sales objectives.

  • The three functional elements of an effective sales management process are building strong sales teams, aligning sales with other company goals, and managing the sales process to achieve these goals.

  • Building a strong sales team includes key aspects such as establishing recruiting and onboarding procedures, setting up sales training, providing feedback, designing compensation plans, and motivating employees.

  • To align sales activities with other company activities, managers create reports and forecasts and collaborate with the marketing and customer service teams.

  • An important part of the sales management system is managing the sales process by establishing sales goals, designing and continuously improving the sales funnel, and monitoring the competitive landscape for opportunities and threats.

What Are A Sales Manager’s Responsibilities?

According to popular employment website Indeed, a sales manager’s responsibilities include “building and leading teams of strong sales associates to assist in reaching sales goals.” Though the exact duties might vary by industry, company, and sales positions, this description seems to cover the basics when it comes to sales manager’s responsibilities in most sales organizations.

From the above description, we have distilled the three basic functions that make up a good sales management strategy as including the following:

  1. Building a strong sales team
  2. Aligning the sales team to match the company’s sales goals
  3. Managing the sales process so sales teams can accomplish those goals

In other words, an effective sales manager is in charge of developing the sales team, acting as a liaison between sales and the rest of the company, and ensuring that the sales team’s activities and performance are aligned with the company’s broader business strategies.

But what activities are involved in the three basic functions listed above? To help you understand how to succeed in all three of the basic functional areas of sales management, on the following pages, we’ll look at the key activities involved in and divided among the three basic categories, for a total of 13 functional activities and responsibilities.

Building A Strong Sales Team

First on our list of good sales management strategies is building a strong sales team. To build a strong team, sales managers must set up, lead, and guide the processes involved in recruiting and training employees, developing sales plans and activities, compensating employees, and motivating the company’s entire sales team. 

Let’s take a step-by-step look at the tasks that go into completing this function of sales management.

Set Up Strong Recruiting And Onboarding Procedures

The first step to managing a sales team is recruiting and onboarding sales professionals who will work for the company. 

A sales team has many different types of sales personnel: collection agents, sales development representatives, business development representatives, account managers, account executives, and more. An effective sales manager’s first task is identifying which types of salespeople the company needs and filling the team’s roster with capable employees for each role.

To accomplish this, sales managers must work with HR to create accurate job descriptions that attract qualified candidates, screen and interview applicants, and create attractive compensation packages. With preparation and planning, the company can attract strong talent that will set the sales team up for success. 

Once ideal candidates have been chosen, a sales manager is responsible for guiding the onboarding of new employees, including new sales reps. The manager also oversees providing new workers with on-the-job training, resources, and guidance, all that is needed to ensure new employees are integrated smoothly into the company.

With strong and efficient sales recruitment and onboarding processes, effective sales managers can find and integrate new hires in a short amount of time, ensuring the business has the manpower it needs to operate the sales department successfully while working to meet sales goals.

Train and Develop Your Sales Team

No matter how qualified your new sales hires are, they will need to be trained on company-specific knowledge, such as your business’s product aspects, value proposition, ideal customer profile (ICP), buyer personas, and sales methodology, as well as procedural knowledge on how to make a sale in accordance with your company’s business processes and brand image.

To this end, a sales manager’s job is to provide sales reps with coaching, training, and learning opportunities to ensure they know everything they need to know to make a sale and to begin developing their sales acumen. Making sure your sales reps are well trained and prepared to do their job will create a more confident and effective sales team, overall.

According to LinkedIn, an overwhelming majority (91%) of employees say it’s important for managers to inspire learning and experimentation, and that employees who feel their skills aren’t being put to good use are 10 times more likely to begin looking for a new job.

Inspiring learning opportunities means not only will training and development improve your sales team’s overall performance, but it can also improve employee satisfaction and reduce attrition. Therefore, helping employees keep learning, continuously, is a gift that will give back to your company in many ways.

Measure and Provide Feedback

A key part of managing a sales team is measuring employee performance and providing feedback that enables sales reps to continuously improve their performance.

To measure and provide feedback, sales managers must track key performance indicators (KPIs) for each salesperson, over each sales period. Some common performance metrics include:

  • Number of sales made
  • Average sales cycle length
  • Number of sales calls made or cold emails sent
  • Number of leads processed
  • Average conversion rate
  • Revenue or profit brought in

By tracking sales rep performance over time, managers can identify areas where reps could improve and develop support material or sales training to help close skills gaps. Closing these gaps improves the overall performance of your sales team and helps your sales reps develop their individual careers.

Set Up Sales Compensation Plans

Of course, you can’t expect employees to work for free. That’s why a part of sales team management is creating enticing sales compensation plans that encourage sales reps to stay motivated and productive, every day, on the sales floor.

To the uninitiated, sales compensation might seem pretty easy: either pay reps a decent, flat salary or pay them a percent commission for each sale they make. Simple, right?

Although the two plans mentioned above represent extremes when it comes to sales compensation plans, there are dozens of other sales compensation plans in between, such as bonus-based, gross margin-based, and territory-based commission plans. Each of these options has its pros and cons and works differently to motivate and incentivize employees.

When deciding on the best sales compensation plan for their business, the best sales managers identify which plans might be most effective at measuring their salespeople’s hard work, so they can be compensated appropriately, keeping them happy at work.

Motivate Your Sales Team

The final element of building and managing a successful sales team is motivation. Beyond providing monetary bonuses, a sales manager is uniquely positioned to recognize, acknowledge, and reward the sales team’s hard work. 

This motivation can be as simple as a “Good job,” for a sale closing swiftly, or it could be a word of reassurance when a rep loses a sale. As long as they know someone is watching and acknowledging their efforts, sales reps will feel more motivated to give their all when working to make sales.

You may also choose to run small competitions to get reps’ blood boiling. Beyond simply pitting sales reps against each other, consider providing a small bonus for the most-improved rep between periods, encouraging your employees to work to exceed their own personal records.

Aligning The Sales Team With Company Goals

Next on our list of good sales management strategies is taking a step outside the sales team to look at other company personnel managers must work and interact with to achieve business goals. 

A business’s sales department has a lot of resounding impact on other company functions, such as marketing, finances, product development, customer service, and more. Thus, a sales manager’s job is to act as the intermediary between the sales team and other company personnel, reporting on the sales team’s activities and ensuring they align with the rest of the company’s goals and business activities. 

Four ways a sales manager does this is through reporting, forecasting, marketing, and customer service.

Create Sales and Revenue Reports

A sales manager’s first and foremost responsibility to other company functions is to announce, using sales and revenue reports, whether the company has met its sales targets, and also reporting how many units were sold and for how much.

It is critical for business decision-makers to know and to track the company’s cash flow, review product performance, and make sound, data-based decisions on its overall sales operations. In addition, your sales team will likely want to know how much they contributed to the company’s bottom-line results.

Although the exact KPIs you track and report will vary depending on which company department you’re reporting to, following are some key metrics a sales manager should always keep an eye on:

  • Total revenue this period
  • Revenue growth rate
  • Total number of product units sold
  • Number of leads, prospects, and opportunities
  • Number of leads by marketing channel
  • Sales pipeline conversion rates
  • Opportunities won
  • Average sales cycle length

Investing in a customer relationship management (CRM) software system, or other type of sales management software, can help make it easy to track these metrics live.

Create Sales Forecasts

In addition to delivering periodic reports on the company’s sales performance, sales managers also will be expected to present sales forecasts to decision-makers, predicting how much revenue and sales the sales team will make in the future.

Providing this information helps the business adjust production levels, allocate resources, plan financials, and optimize operations. For example, if your sales forecast predicted that sales would be twice as high in the next quarter, your business may need to double production and hire more workers to handle the influx of orders.

Additionally, sales managers could create different sales forecasts for different “what-if” scenarios, making strong, data-driven arguments for changes and improvements to the sales department. For example, a manager could demonstrate that forecasted sales would greatly improve if the sales team had more sales enablement material, making a strong case for investing in resources that would benefit the sales team.

Align Sales and Marketing

Sales generally interacts the most with the marketing team, as leads generated from marketing campaigns are nurtured by sales reps to become prospects and sales opportunities. In other words, if the two teams don’t coordinate with each other, the business won’t be able to process customers efficiently.

That’s why managers from these two departments work together to align sales and marketing, which is called “Smarketing.” By coordinating and sharing goals, strategies, processes, metrics, and priorities, marketing can be sure to attract a good number of qualified leads that sales reps will be able to effectively bring to close.

Improve Customer Service

Post-purchase, a customer may contact your customer service team with questions, concerns, and issues regarding their product or service. Handling these service cases with empathy and efficiency is paramount to your company’s reputation and the chances of building a loyal customer base.

However, though your customer service team may be full of highly-trained professionals, they may still be caught off-guard by the nature of the questions asked or not quite understand certain elements of the customer’s journey.

That’s why, similar to aligning marketing and sales, sales managers must also communicate with the customer support team to align sales and customer service. For example, the customer service team will surely want to know if newly-closed customers were confused about the warranty, expressed concerns about the product’s materials, or mentioned wanting to exchange their selection for a different color.

Throughout the entire customer journey, sales reps are the employees in closest contact with leads and customers and are therefore, most privy to their concerns, worries, and potential questions. By collecting these observations and passing them on to the customer service team, a sales manager enables the sales support staff to prepare for the most common customer questions ahead of time.

Managing The Sales Process

Third and last on our list of good sales management strategies is managing the sales process itself, ensuring that everyone on the team has all the resources, information, and tools they need to achieve sales goals and objectives.

To that end, sales managers usually establish sales goals, create a sales funnel, continuously work to optimize sales operations, and monitor the competitive landscape.

Establish Sales Goals

On the flip side of reporting the sales team’s activities and successes to higher-ups, sales managers also perform the reverse function, communicating leaders’ short- and long-term sales goals, sales strategy, new projects, and other information to the sales team.

Using this information, sales managers work with reps to set a team-wide sales plan and individual sales quotas, setting numerical goals for the volume or revenue amount the team must make to support the company’s broader vision.

Create A Sales Funnel

One of the most crucial steps of sales management is setting up an effective, standardized, and repeatable step-by-step process to close sales – in other words, your company’s sales funnel.

Sales funnels map out the customer journey from beginning to end and guide sales reps on what to do and say during each step of the process. With this, a sales manager ensures that each sales rep acts in unison, creating a cohesive and pleasant customer journey for leads. 

Though most sales funnels follow the same standard pattern—brand awareness, product consideration, and closing—it’s up to the sales manager to identify how a company’s unique industry, processes, product, and communication channels may change those sales practices and build a tailor-made sales funnel to match.

Additionally, an important part of an effective sales management process is ensuring that the sales funnel is clear as sales team members focus on nurturing leads, making sure there are no bottlenecks or inefficiencies that would slow down the sales process. 

Improve Sales Operations

Beyond simply building a sales team and sales funnel, a good sales manager works tirelessly to improve these processes, keeping the company’s sales process in tip-top shape and filled with the most modern and effective practices possible.

For example, as the company grows and the business receives more potential customers per period, a sales manager might modify the sales force’s lead distribution process, sales funnel, and lead nurturing practices to handle leads more efficiently. 

Busy sales managers might also choose to compile these best practices in a sales playbook–a collection of the company’s sales plays, scripts, sales enablement materials, sales pipeline, ideal customer profiles, buyer personas, and more. Rather than teaching each new procedure individually, a manager can simply update and distribute the sales playbook so that everyone can learn the best sales processes on their own time.

Monitor The Competitive Landscape

Finally, sales leaders must look outside of the company, continuously, to monitor the competitive landscape, identifying new sales opportunities or threats that could shake up your current sales operations.

On the positive side, monitoring the landscape might lead to discovering something like a new study that shows how certain practices are more effective in appealing to customers, or a new project management software system that could greatly improve your current team performance. 

On the other hand, monitoring could lead to the discovery of bad news, such as a competitor penetrating your market segment, or news of a looming recession.

Whatever landscape monitoring reveals, it’s the responsibility of a sales manager to spot these changes on the horizon and adapt the team’s current sales strategy accordingly, to either capitalize on opportunities, or mitigate the impact of potential threats.


What are some sales management tools or software I could use to help me manage my team?

If you’re looking for a software tool that can help you monitor, manage, and improve your team’s sales performance, customer relationship management software, or CRM software, can help you do just that. 

CRM software tracks and monitors leads as they move through the sales process, describing which sales representative is assigned to them and the next steps the rep needs to take to nurture them to close. In other words, by managing the overall CRM processes, sales managers can quickly adapt the sales management process for all reps who use the platform.

If you’re interested in purchasing CRM software, some popular choices include:

What are some of the most important sales management skills?

If you’re hoping to become a sales manager or sales leader one day, it’s important to develop strong leadership skills such as problem-solving, planning, prioritizing, and evaluating. It would also be best to strengthen your interpersonal skills so that you are able to clearly communicate with your team.

What are some best practices for sales management?

If you’re a new sales leader just starting out, some best practices to get your team up and running quickly are to prioritize the type of sales team members you need to onboard first, invest in strong training and development programs, create a good sales culture through positive reinforcement, and develop a functional sales pipeline quickly.

These steps, especially setting up your sales pipeline and assembling your sales personnel, will ensure you have the bare basics that you need to make your first sales. Then, with a strong sales training program and uplifting culture, you can take your time improving your sales force, as time goes by, to ensure you are prepared to keep reaching your sales goals.