Personnel Management in Sales

Would you like to manage your sales staff in a performance and success-oriented manner?

There is a widespread prejudice that sales staff are difficult to manage. If you have selected your personnel mindfully, you will be much more relaxed about this. Give your sales force a worthwhile mission, fine-tune the sales strategy together with your sales team and create the conditions for operational saleswork. Your staff will continuously deliver high performance without you having to drive. And success is probably the most important driver for further increased commitment. You create an upward spiral movement.

Example 1: In an international trading company in the capital goods market throughout the Mediterranean region, the sales team is made up of all age groups. Market and profit responsibility lies with experienced middle-aged account managers. Older, even more experienced sales managers are available in the back office as coaches and on site with customers as senior consultants. Younger salespeople have the opportunity to learn on an ongoing basis. In fact, the learning culture is very strong in this company. A high pulse rate can be felt throughout the sales force. Unspoken competition for the better sales results occurs in a fair and friendly manner. This spirit drives the entire team and leads to sustained high performance. The amazing thing is that no one explicitly demands this high performance. It is delivered naturally – and recognized. The learning process and success are the natural drivers for everyone.

Example 2: In the sales department of a Germany-wide manufacturer of plastic pipes and fittings, sales success is closely managed. A bonus system is in place to encourage sales performance. But the sales people always come up with excuses as to why the sales figures are behind plan. Sickness levels are alarmingly high across the sales team. Further pressure from the sales manager on his staff leads to a further drop in performance. What has gone wrong here? The product is under immense price pressure. Neither the product nor the service has any unique selling points. The pressure on earnings, which weighs heavily on the entire company, has been transferred to the sales team, which is paralyzed. There is a lack of prerequisites; there is a lack of positive impetus; there is a lack of a spirit and optimism. Creating these foundations is a leadership task.

Leadership is a craft that can be learned.

Sales employees in a functioning team lead themselves or each other. Your job as a manager is to create the necessary conditions for your employees to be successful.

This includes looking at low performers. Look at the performance and potential of your employees, try to support weaker employees. If necessary, look for other tasks for them or be brave and part with them as soon as it is to be expected that there is no improvement in sight. Otherwise, such employees will “poison” the team. Show your employees appreciation. Criticism is also appreciation, because you also show your employees through criticism that you are concerned with them.

However, make sure that you also focus your attention on the top performers and high-potential employees, because they also need appreciation and recognition.

Not every employee needs the same level of appreciation. Nor does every situation require the same level of leadership. Lead appropriately for the situation, but show yourself as a leader. How much of your available work time does your sales manager spend on leadership?

Results in sales are not just hard sales closings; but also milestones in initiating business relationships, market-driven impetus for demand-driven product development, and contributions to better alignment between sales and adjacent operational functions, such as manufacturing planning and service. Include such components in the assessment of your sales staff. The form “Operational Sales Management” can help you to do this.


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