Five questions every sales manager should answer

Most sales managers know the basics about their sales team and the selling process used in their organisation. They know which salespeople are their top, mid and bottom range performers; they know how long a deal takes to come to fruition, the length of the sales cycle, the dollar value of the average deal, and so on.

However, successful sales leadership demands a deeper awareness of what’s going on within the sales organisation. For instance, they should know the common stalling points in their sales process, or which competitors they lose the most business to and why.

Here are five questions that sales leaders should know the answers to:

1. Which source of leads and prospects results in the highest percentage of closed deals?

Sales managers should be asking themselves where their best leads come from and what those leads look like. When they do, they can better focus sales and marketing efforts into more effective dollars boosting conversion rates.

2. Are the salespeople selling the most profitable products/services?

Salespeople often sell the products that are easiest rather than the ones that provide the highest margin for the company. Let’s face it, salespeople are going to look at how to achieve their sales targets the easiest way they can. If that means selling lower margin products, they’re going to do it.

Managers should know which products are most profitable and direct behaviour toward them. While that’s typically accomplished by implementing the right compensation plan, the question remains: Do you know, at any given moment, which salespeople are selling the profitable products and which are not?

3. How effectively is the sales process being followed?

Assuming, of course, that there is a sales process, how well the sales team adheres to your sales process is important. Many sales executives have lamented that there are sometimes as many processes as there are salespeople. If sales results are in need of correction it may be as simple as getting the sales team to adhere to an established sales process that can be taught and coached to.

4. Where do the salespeople tend to stall or derail in the sales process?

Effective sales leaders know exactly how deals move through the pipeline and where each salesperson stumbles (if they do) in the process. When sales leaders understand where individual salespeople get stuck they are able to use their experience, insight and knowledge of the aforementioned sales process to coach their salespeople and help them get deals moving again.

5. Which competitors does the organisation lose the most business to, and why?

All sales managers know who their biggest competitors are, but do they know precisely how much business they lose to each one? More importantly, do they know why they are losing the business without resorting to the default “price” argument? When managers understand the answers to these questions, they can better position the company and maximise its strengths to more effectively compete. The answers allow managers to craft presentations that hit these issues head-on. By fully understanding losses, managers put themselves in a better position to secure more sales wins.

Find the answers to these five questions and you could change your entire sales operation.

Remember, everybody lives by selling something.

Sue Barrett is a sales expert, business speaker, adviser, sales facilitator and entrepreneur and founded Barrett Consulting to provide expert sales consulting, sales training, sales coaching and assessments. Her business Barrett P/L partners with its clients to improve their sales operations. Visit


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