9 years ago
January 7, 2015

6 Rules to Help an Entrepreneur Manage a Sales Team

6 simple rules to help an entrepreneur manage a sales team.
Ive met my fair share of entrepreneurs over the last few years and a constant theme acros

Rhys Metler

I’ve met my fair share of entrepreneurs over the last few years and a constant theme across almost all of them is not to become or behave too much (or not at all, in some cases) like a “big business”.

I get it. They want and enjoy the flexibility of running their own show which, for many, means that they operate with fewer rules and not feeling obliged to working within the confines of corporate regulations.

But … I have also witnessed where this zeal to operate in an unstructured and “fluid” environment has major downsides. Specifically, it’s very difficult if not impossible to have proper performance management in place without some level of structure. And I couldn’t imagine an area of a business (of any size) that needs structure more for it to properly perform than Sales.

Enter sales management for small business. Herein are 6 simple rules to help an entrepreneur to manage a sales team without s/he feeling like they are losing their small biz flexibility or becoming too big business.  

  1. Clearly state expectations. This simply means “what do I expect you to sell each month?”. For most small businesses, I would not bother with annual goals, but you should clearly state their monthly or quarterly target. And don’t give them a goal AFTER the measurement period starts (yes, I have seen this). I suggest at least a 15 day notice. Example, tell them buy October 15 what their goal is for November.  
  2. Reward for over achievement. This just seems like common sense but, again, not always followed in small biz. Provide an environment and comp structure that pays MORE for over achievement. Light a fire! Otherwise, you’ll likely to see little effort to go after those extra dollars.
  3. Reward for consistency. Consider structuring the compensation plan so that it pay bonus dollars for every month in a row that a rep achieves 100% of quota or more. This helps mitigate peaks and valleys of rep performance and company cash flow.   
  4. Measure and publish. You can’t manage what you don’t measure so track a rep’s sales performance relative to his/her goals and commit it to paper. Secondly, I advocate publishing those numbers to the executive team and to all peer sales reps. Reps love to see their name at the top of a list that the CEO and VPs look at. Conversely they hate it when they are near the bottom of the same list. Over time, reps will improve performance or self manage themselves out of the business due to lack of rewards and, frankly, the humiliation of consistently being at the back of the pack.
  5. Put it all in writing.  Put a reps’ goals, expectations and reward structure in writing. It doesn’t have to be long. In fact, anything more than ½ a page is too long. Keep it simple but do put it in writing
  6. Recognize. Lastly, good sales reps have egos so take the time to provide recognition to top performers. This can be an email, a letter or a one-on-one conversation. Also highly effective is recognition in front of a sales reps peer group during a monthly sales meeting or better yet a specific sales achievement event.

Last comment about goals that I have found to be highly beneficial: As best as you can, explain to reps the WHY behind their goals. Arbitrary assignment of sales goals can negatively impact a rep’s motivation whereas a goal that is explained can make a rep feel included and even consulted leading to higher motivation.  


This blog post was authored by Geoff Vincent, Founder and CEO of BizCompare.com.  Geoff is a former corporate marketing leader who writes with a small business oriented point of view on sales, marketing, business research and management best practices. Geoff can be followed at his blog and on Twitter.  

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.