How to Best Manage Sales Teams at Small and Mid-Sized Businesses

May 11, 2023

Small and mid-sized businesses often face unique challenges when it comes to managing their sales teams. With limited resources and staff, these businesses may not have the luxury of hiring dedicated sales managers, and instead rely on the business owner to lead the team or they promote their best salesperson into the role. It’s a very popular solution - almost 60% of small and mid-sized businesses do this.


Popularity, however, rarely leads to effectiveness, and while these approaches can be effective in some cases, they can also lead to challenges. Like just about everything else in business, they have their pros and cons as well as alternative approaches that might be more suitable. By understanding the various options available, small and mid-sized businesses can make informed decisions about how to effectively manage their sales teams and drive business growth.


First, the Pros and Cons.

Here are five possible reasons why small businesses may choose to have the owner or best salesperson manage the sales team and why it might not be a good idea.


1. Limited resources:

Small businesses often have limited resources and may not have the budget to hire a full-time sales manager. In such cases, the owner or best salesperson may need to step in and manage the sales team in addition to their other responsibilities.


But, while it may be necessary for them to manage the sales team due to limited resources, this can also result in the person being stretched too thin. If they are already responsible for other aspects of the business, adding sales management to their plate may lead to burnout or neglect of other responsibilities.


2. Better understanding of the business:

The owner or top salesperson may have a deeper understanding of the business, its products/services, and its customers than an external sales manager. This can enable them to provide better guidance and support to the sales team.


However, though they may have a deep understanding of the business, they may not necessarily have the skills and experience necessary to effectively manage a sales team. Sales management requires a unique set of skills, including the ability to motivate and train salespeople, analyze sales data, and develop sales strategies.


3. Trust and credibility:

The owner or best salesperson may have built strong relationships with customers over time, which can help to establish trust and credibility with the sales team. This can be particularly important in industries where personal relationships are key to closing deals.


But relying too heavily on the owner or top salesperson's personal relationships with customers can be risky, as these relationships may not be transferable if the person leaves the company. Additionally, if the sales team feels that the owner or best salesperson is playing favorites or micromanaging them, it could lead to resentment and decreased morale.


4. Faster decision-making:

When the owner or best salesperson manages the sales team, decisions can often be made more quickly than when a separate sales manager is involved. This can be especially important in fast-moving industries where timely responses are critical.


While fast decision-making can be a competitive advantage, it can also result in hasty decisions that are not fully thought out. Without the input and perspectives of a dedicated sales manager, the owner or best salesperson may overlook important factors or make decisions based on incomplete information.


5. Alignment with company culture:

The owner or top salesperson is likely to have a strong understanding of the company's culture and values, and can ensure that the sales team operates in alignment with these principles. This can help to create a cohesive and motivated team that is focused on achieving the company's goals.


However, it's also important to have a diversity of perspectives and experiences on the team. If the owner or best salesperson is the only person managing the team, they may not be open to new ideas or receptive to feedback from others on the team.


Some possible alternatives.

Now, after having weighed the pros and cons of having the owner of the company or the top salesperson manage the sales teams, here are some alternatives to consider.


1. Hire a dedicated sales manager: If the business has the resources to do so, hiring a dedicated sales manager can provide the expertise and focus necessary to effectively manage the sales team. A sales manager can bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the role, and can take on the responsibility of training, coaching, and motivating the sales team.


2. Promote from within: If there are existing team members who have demonstrated strong sales skills and leadership potential, promoting from within the team can be a great way to develop and retain talent. This approach can help to create a sense of continuity and stability within the team, as well as a clear path for career advancement. The key is to make this promoted person a full-time sales manager.


3. Implement sales management software: There are many sales management software tools available on the market that can help small businesses streamline their sales processes and workflows. These tools can provide valuable insights into sales performance and help to automate tasks like lead management, pipeline tracking, and reporting, freeing up the owner or best sales person to focus on other aspects of the business.


4. Collaborate with other businesses: In some cases, collaborating with other small businesses in the same industry can be an effective way to share resources and expertise. For example, multiple small businesses could pool their resources to hire a shared sales manager, or could share best practices and training materials.


5. Outsource sales management: If the business does not have the budget or need for a full-time sales manager, outsourcing sales management to a third-party provider can be a cost-effective solution. This can provide access to the expertise and resources of a dedicated sales management firm, without the need to hire a full-time employee, and in our opinion is usually the best choice.


If you’d like to learn more about how an Outsourced Sales Manager can fit into your SMBs sales process, we’d love to hear from you. You can schedule a complimentary Sales Diagnostic Call with me or one of the experts on my team (we call ourselves ‘Sales Sherpas’).


In this 45-minute, laser-focused, diagnostic, brainstorming session we will share ideas on how you can break through to new levels of sales performance.


There’s absolutely no cost to you AND….


WE SOLEMNLY SWEAR we won’t try to sell you anything.


Schedule Your complimentary SALES DIAGNOSTIC CALL on the link below:

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