Many small businesses don’t have a sales team large enough to justify a person whose role is to be the sales manager. Often, the business owner or a marketing manager might have managing the sales team as part of his/her responsibilities. In other cases, it gets delegated to an admin person just because the sales people need to report to somebody.
As I mentioned in a previous post “Fractional Sales Manager – do you need one?”, in more cases than not the business owner is too consumed with running the business to play the role of sales manager. In these cases, investing in a fractional (part-time) sales manager is likely a good investment.
Following are the 5 main things you should expect if you invest in a fractional sales manager.
Evaluation of the sales people
One of the first initiatives a fractional sales manager should do is evaluate the members of the sales team. This can be accomplished in two ways:
- A sales assessment tool – we use the Craft Personality Questionnaire because it is thoroughly vetted and designed for sales people. It does a great job of identifying the extent to which selling is in a person’s “DNA”.
- Ride-alongs – spending time with the salesperson during prospecting and interactions with customers is an invaluable way to assess selling skills, personal organization and motivation.
Evaluation of the individual salespeople is one of the first initiatives a fractional sales manager should take. Ideally you get the results of the sales assessment tool first, and during the ride-along you can provide feedback to the salesperson and observe behavior.
Coaching and sales skills development
It is not the role of the fractional sales manager to develop the salesperson’s technical knowledge. That is the responsibility of the business owner or lead operations person, with some guidance from the fractional sales manager.
The fractional sales manager should be laser-focused on skill development. Skill development opportunities will arise from the assessment and ride-alongs, as well as gaining an understanding of the sales process.
Individual and occasional group training sessions should part of what you expect from your fractional sales manager.
Sales process development
The sales process is unique to the business. It is comprised of the following things:
- How leads are generated and nurtured through the buying funnel
- How, when and by whom is a prospective buyer contacted
- The sequence of the sales meetings
- Marketing materials that support sales activities
- Administrative support of the sales organization
A good fractional sales manager should invest time to document and analyze the sales process as a means to identify how the process can be improved to support the sales team and achieve sales goals.
Reports and data
Without good data, we are managing subjective things. Good data makes it real and enables the team to focus on measurable improvements. There are four important reports that should be produced as follows
- Performance on lead behaviors/metrics – based on the sales process, the target market’s value drivers and the sales objectives, 2-5 lead behaviors need to be identified, measured and shared with the salespeople.
- Pipeline – this report should list how many deals you have in process, and the status of each one. This is particularly important in the B2B space where average deal size is often large.
- Prospecting report – without leads there are no sales. This report should show what leads are being produced by salesperson by lead source.
- Sales performance – this report simply shows the end result – how many sales are being produced, by whom and what is their value
In the ideal world all four elements would be combined into one report, but when that’s not possible, measuring and reporting on these four elements is something you should get from your fractional sales manager.
Execution and Discipline
Many great salespeople by nature are independent and challenging to control. You don’t want to over-control them but you do want to instill a degree of importance and discipline into the environment. Fractional sales managers can instill an appropriate level of execution and discipline by doing the following
- Weekly sales meetings with a consistent agenda that is valued by the salespeople
- Consistent one-on-one meetings to discuss performance on lead and lag metrics
- Timely discussions for constructive coaching and recognition of good performance
In addition to these five elements, the right fractional sales manager can also develop prospecting strategies, incentive compensation plans, and marketing and lead nurturing plans.
Fractional sales management can have a major impact on the performance of a sales team and the business as long as there’s a process for implementation. That process should include evaluation of the team members, ongoing coaching and sales skill development, analysis and evolution of the processes that support the sales organization, the right reports and data, and instilling organization and discipline into the environment.