As your company takes off, sales managers might find themselves balancing more and more work with fewer breaks in between. Before you burn yourself out, consider if project management tactics could help you lift the burden and organize your sales efforts more effectively.
Giving careful thought to your management style can benefit you in all aspects of life, and sales is no exception. If you’re overwhelmed by managing your sales team and are considering a stronger project management method, here are four concrete ways that sales managers can benefit from project management in their company to help convince you.
What is Sales Project Management?
In general, project management focuses and organizes resources for the most efficient completion of a task. As applied to sales, this means focusing your department’s sales activities and organizing your reps to make the most sales possible for your company.
In more concrete terms, this means categorically defining each minute action in your sales process into stages of a sales funnel, assigning your sales reps specific resources and tasks to complete per stage, and setting key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure your effectiveness.
Though this might sound like a convoluted process, there are four distinct benefits sales managers will see by applying project management tactics to their sales activities.
1. Higher Sales Volume and Velocity
The first benefit you’ll see is higher opportunity-won rates and conversion rates, as well as faster sales cycles.
By obliquely defining each stage of your sales funnel, it becomes much easier to pinpoint ambiguous zones in your sales process, as well as areas where prospects are lost at a much higher rate than normal. Then, you can patch up these holes with appropriate sales plays, sales enablement materials, or other activities that will be sure to nurture your lead’s interest and move them closer to a sale. This will boost your overall number of leads.
Plus, by setting clear definitions of what counts as a qualified lead in each stage, sales reps can prioritize leads most likely to become customers and drop cold leads faster, leading to faster sales cycles.
In other words, proper project management of your sales funnel optimizes the entire department, ensuring no customers are lost in the sales process.
Lost on how to define stages of your sales funnel, qualify leads, or set effective KPIs? This handy website for salespeople explains all of the basics to make sales project management a walk in the park.
2. Improve Employee Productivity
The next benefit you’ll see over time is improved employee productivity now that your sales reps have structured activities and metrics to work at.
Part of the sales project management process is clearly defining what activities sales reps can take to help nurture a lead and how to do it – this information is collected into a sales playbook, which acts as a guiding manual for your employees. Not only does this help train new sales reps faster, but as you continuously refine your sales playbook with your best practices, your entire sales department will only get better over time.
Then, setting clear KPI metrics tells reps exactly what standards they should work towards, quickly calling out slackers. What sales metrics you choose to measure depends on your type of business and goals, but some regular ones are conversion rates, time to close, average purchase value, and cost per lead. Clear goals for these metrics holds employees accountable for the quality of their work and pushes them to meet the goals you’ve set.
3. Increased Customer Satisfaction
As you refine your sales process and employee performance, the natural beneficiaries of these improvements are the customers.
Without sales project management, two customers could have two completely different sales experiences with your business, leading to overall public confusion about whether your company is good or bad.
Standardizing your sales process and sales reps’ behaviors ensures that each customer has a pleasant experience and that all customers have the same experience – in other words, it ensures a consistently pleasant customer journey. This raises your customer satisfaction and, over time, your overall brand reputation.
4. Better Cross-Function Communication
Finally, clearly defining each step of your sales management process helps you effectively communicate your successes and needs. With a map of each sales activity, you can more effectively communicate and collaborate with other business functions such as marketing, customer support, and finance.
Sales is only one part of the customer’s journey: first, they must be attracted to the company by the marketing team. They go to your sales team to complete their purchase, then, post-purchase, the support team handles their complaints and questions. Naturally, then, a company should work to create consistency between all three of these zones.
By clearly outlining your sales funnel, you and the other functions can clearly identify which sales activities have an impact on their activities and vice versa, build a holistic picture of your entire customer journey, and coordinate sales enablement and reference materials so that customers get unique value out of each interaction with a different employee.
Plus, with the KPIs and sales plays you set up, it becomes much easier to explain and justify to the financial team why you might need more funding for certain activities – you’ll be able to prove the ROI of each stage of your sales funnel, helping you get the support you need to continuously improve your sales team.
Though it may seem like a lot of work to set up, sales managers can expect to see great returns after implementing project management techniques into their sales activities. With a clearer understanding of what’s happening, when, and how at all times, sales managers can expect to see higher sales numbers, employee productivity, customer satisfaction, and cross-function communication.
Even as your company’s operations scale up, you’ll be well-equipped to handle the increased workload, and can finally breathe a sigh of relief and run your sales teams stress-free.