This post is an excerpt from the Ambition Guide to Predictable Revenue.

Quality management can make all the difference between a sales force that is a well-oiled, dominant machine and a sales force that is a smoldering train wreck.  Using Ross's keen insights and the Ambition model for incentivizing sales force performance, managers can grow their teams into self-directed, efficient machines. Here's how.

Creating Self Accountable Sales Teams

One thing Aaron Ross does extremely well in Predictable Revenue is outline the importance of proper management and properly instilling self-management systems in one's sales team. For this section of our Field Guide, we look at the responsibilities, traits, and tools of a great manager.

The 6 Responsibilities of a Sales Manager

The most critical component of building an effective, self-managing sales machine is having quality upper management. I'll go ahead and break down what Aaron Ross sets out to be the 6 responsibilities of an effective manager:

1) Choose people carefully. 

Hire for talent and adaptability, not necessarily experience.

2) Set expectations and vision. 

Be results-oriented, rather than activities-oriented. You want flexibility in your approach to defining processes. 

3) Remove obstacles.

My favorite one, and the one where Ambition ultimately comes into play. Ross likens this aspect of the job to being a "professional sports commission" that "sets and enforces rules, defines the playing field, the referee system, etc." In other words, management must provide clearly-defined goals and metrics for its team. The rationale behind this responsibility is obvious: A sales team can't win if it doesn't understand the rules of the game or even how the game is played. 

4) Inspire your people.

Great opening quote from Ross about this point: "Inspiring is not cheerleading." Speaking from firsthand experience, empty cheerleading is not inspiration--in fact, it has the direct opposite effect. I worked as a recruiter at my previous company. Every morning, our team would meet for 15 minutes to go over what the hot job orders were for the day, what everyone’s focus was, etc. These meetings were intense and strategic in nature.

Yet, without fail, at the end of each meeting, our (otherwise great) manager concluded with a forced exclamation: “Alright guys, let’s get fired up! Go team!”

It wasn’t always phrased that way, but my manager's final message to us always contained a similar battle cry. She had the right intentions, but the superficiality of the call to action diverged improperly from the meeting's original tone, which was somber, focused and strategy-oriented. The messaging rang hollow, and not just for me. The “Let’s get fired up!” messages at the end of each meeting were often met with shrugs and eye rolls from the rest of our team. In those meetings, it was the coaching and strategizing--not the superficial cheerleading--that truly motivated us. 

5) Work for your people.

Offer opportunities for internal advancement and growth within the company. One thing my previous company did very well was provide both financial and position-based advancement for our highest-performers. Getting called into your boss's office to be informed you are receiving a $10,000 raise or to find out you are being promoted to management level is a powerful motivator.

6) Improve it next time.

Remember, the whole point of being a manager is to build a machine. And that machine needs to be constantly improving, lest it get left behind in the hyper-competitive world of sales. It's okay if the first model you build is the equivalent of a Hyundai Sonata, as long as the next versions of the machine start to look more and more like a Mercedes-Benz.

Tools for Improving Salesforce Self-Management

A good manager does not spend all of his or her time micro-managing his sales team. When a new manager has the option to either: 1) Jump all over everything and try to prove himself or herself by managing every aspect of day-to-day operations. 2) Stay somewhat in the background and manage his team with consistent two-way communication and a gentle hand.the new manager is always better off choosing the latter.

In order for the more effective, hands-off management style to work, however, a manager needs a good system for sales team self-management in place. One primary way to encourage employee self-management is through leaderboards and other “Rewards” programs. Yet, the effectiveness of these tools can be limited in that they only appeal to the top-performing sales team members.

Another way is through implementing the use of CRMs. Let’s face it though - almost without exception, inputting data into these CRMs is a boring, monotonous task for your employee. Leaderboards and quality CRM's are decent tools, but at the end of the day, a good manager must ensure that his or her sales force is using these tools to their utmost capabilities. 

Predictable Revenue in Theory. Ambition in Practice.

Ambition's very purpose is to enable more effective self-management on the part of your sales force. We motivate the next 60 percent of your sales team to achieve higher productivity levels and keep better, more accurate records on their CRM by placing the employees in team competitions, where they are relied upon week-in and week-out to help their team win.

The results seen just earlier this year by logistics brokerage firm Access America (recently acquired by Coyote Logistics) say it all. The company's outbound sales calls jumped from 14,000 to 21,000 a day after Ambition launched.

It's worth re-stating Aaron Ross's point in Predictable Revenue: a great sales force requires consistent, effective self-management. And every great manager should always be looking to build a better self-managing system.

Ambition: The 360° Sales Management Platform

Ambition is a sales management platform that syncs business teams, data sources, and performance metrics on one system.

Sales leaders use Ambition to enhance sales performance insights and build sales reports, scorecards, contests, and TVs that supercharge focus, effort and accountability.  

Ambition is endorsed by Harvard Business Review and AA-ISP (the Global Inside Sales Organization). Hear more from business leaders who use Ambition in their organization.

Watch Testimonials:

  1. FiveStars: Adam Wall. Sr. Manager of Sales Operations . 
  2. Filemaker: Brad Freitag. Vice-President of Worldwide Sales.
  3. Outreach: Mark Kosoglow. Vice-President of Sales.
  4. Cell Marque: Lauren Hopson. Director of Sales & Marketing.
  5. Access America Transport: Ted Alling. Chief Executive Officer.

Watch Product Walkthroughs:

  1. ChowNow. Led by Vice-President of Sales, Drew Woodcock.
  2. Outreach. Led by Sales Development Manager, Alex Lynn.
  3. AMX Logistics. Led by Executive Vice-President ,Jared Moore.

Read Case Studies:

  1. Clayton HomesHBR finds triple-digit growth in 3 sales efficiency metrics. 
  2. Coyote Logistics: Monthly revenue per broker grew $525 in 6 months.
  3. Peek: Monthly sales activity volume grew 142% in 6 months.
  4. Vorsight: Monthly sales conversations grew 300% in 6 months.

Contact us to learn how Ambition can impact your sales organization today.

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