Sales managers are not always present in small businesses, so we are often asked what…
In 2006 I discovered the practice of Fractional Sales Management before it became an emerging industry. I didn’t create the term, but we’ve been doing the work. Fractional Sales Management was and is solving a common problem facing small business owners impeding their ability to scale business growth. These companies had hit the ceiling with their sales levels. The effort, strategies, and salespeople that propelled them to the current sales volume were no longer enough to achieve their higher sales goals. Hiring a quality sales manager was the obvious solution, but finding one was nearly impossible. Not just hiring any sales manager but finding a qualified sales management professional that would accept their role was the problem fractional sales managers are now solving.
Without a professional sales manager, sales teams were left on their own or managed by the business owner. Most owners did not have the experience, time, or know-how to scale up a sales department. Some owners were skilled at selling, but hiring and developing other salespeople was not their strength.
Why Not Hire a Full-Time Sales Manager?
Two factors make it difficult to attract a full-time professional sales manager. First, the talent market is limited as most professional sales managers work at corporations. Secondly, managing a small-business sales team does not present enough challenges for the sales management talent needed. In most cases, the responsibilities don’t require a full-time manager, and this is overlooked.
A common belief is that a professional sales manager’s compensation is a hurdle to overcome, but we have not found that to be the case. Compensation buys things, but it does not replace the challenges missing in most small business sales leadership roles. The fractional sales manager model solves the management void and does it cost-effectively. Paying less buys you more in this case. Depending on your long-term goals a fractional sales manager might be a bridge to a full-time sales manager or your long-term solution. We’ve had several clients keep us on board for over seven years. Here is a cost comparison between a full-time and fractional sales management approach.
What Is a Fractional Sales Manager?
A fractional sales manager provides high-level sales management and leadership to a small business at a monthly expense that is often less than half of what a full-time sales manager would cost. Fractional Sales Managers simultaneously share their time and talents with a handful of companies and sales teams.
The term fractional is associated with two factors. The sales management professional provides a fraction of their time, and a small business pays a fraction of that manager’s overall compensation. When you hire a fractional sales manager, you should work with them as your sales manager. You hire a professional to lead and manage the salespeople and represent the sales team at the company leadership level.
Before Fractional Sales Management became popular, our company referred to this approach as Shared Virtual Sales Management. We used the term virtual because that is our model. As a corporate sales manager, I managed teams in a vast geographic territory, so it made sense to work the same with smaller company sales teams. We worked virtually before the Covid 19 pandemic pushed many businesses to embrace the technology. Not all fractional sales managers work virtually—some work close to their homes to work face-to-face with their clients.
The focus is on small businesses because medium and large enterprises often reach a point where a full-time manager makes the best sense.
I can’t speak for all fractional sales managers, but we take ownership and accountability of the sales goal assigned to the sales team at Sales Manager Now. We do because we are your Sales Manager. Our reputation and value are based on the team’s results, just as they would be for a full-time sales manager. We work on a month-to-month basis just like most employees do.
Sales Manager Now’s fractional sales management approach includes the following job responsibilities:
- Attaining sales goals through the sales team
- Hiring new salespeople when needed
- Confronting poor performance
- Coaching up or letting people go
- Conducting weekly sales meetings
- Improve and document department processes
- Contribute to company strategic planning
- Conduct one-on-one coaching and monthly meetings
- Provide or coordinate necessary education and training for the sales team
- Develop salespeople and the sales team
- Collaborate with other department managers and ownership
- Be available for sales meeting prep and debrief calls
- Meet with owners as needed to stay in sync
If you’d like to learn more about our Fractional Sales Management Service, click the button to schedule a meeting.
Are you still wondering if fractional sales management is right for you? As important as understanding what fractional sales management is, understanding what it’s not could also help your decision.
What Fractional Sales Management Is Not
Many sales consultants, coaches, and trainers serve the small business sales team community. They also share their time with multiple clients. Sales consultants generally focus on processes, systems, hiring, and coaching. They work to fix strategies to help the company better manage its team. Coaches often focus on sales techniques, messaging, and conversations, and trainers teach sales methodology. These are general descriptions; some will combine each discipline in their delivery. The big difference is in the following three areas.
- Consultants and coaches do not lead and manage the salespeople.
- Consultants and coaches rarely hire or manage employee dismissals.
- Consultants and coaches are not accountable for the assigned goals.
- Consultants and coaches don’t become part of a company’s management team.
Some fractional sales managers can perform some or all of the roles coaches and consultants perform or contract them as needed. In addition, some fractional sales managers work with professional service providers who need a manager to keep them accountable and get past the stigma of selling.
What Businesses Should Realize With Fractional Sales Management
Just as anyone you hire can bring better or worse results, it is with Fractional Sales Management. You are not just hiring a system, app, or training program. You are hiring a person to lead your sales department and work with you and your staff. To provide you with a list of requirements you might use when evaluating a fractional sales manager, I’ve listed what our clients have received and expected when hiring us.
- Improved systems and processes with visibility into the sales team’s efforts and results
- Higher trust levels by all employees and owners toward the sales team
- The owner and company’s goals are clear and understood by the salespeople
- A department with a culture of accountability (No more complaining sessions, excuses, or whining)
- Salespeople growing and developing in their role
- An increase in the number of salespeople that are performing to goal
- Increased sales with consistent results.
- More of the type of customers or clients you prefer
- A sales team that other departments can get along with rather than fear or complain about
- A sales team that deserves the respect they receive from other departments
- A hiring and onboarding process that allows you to bring your next salesperson on board consistently
- Someone to execute the hiring process
- A sales leader you can trust, speak frankly with, and who will solve core issues to help the business grow
- The sales team has an advocate for their needs who will present them to ownership in a business-like manner.
- Someone to manage the interpersonal challenges that can arise on the sales team with ease
- CEOs have more time to perform their roles, solve issues and expand the company.
I realize this might sound like a fairy tale, but it’s possible and what you should expect when hiring a fractional sales manager. Do not settle for less as they should be professionals who know sales and understand how to manage effectively and lead in a way others respect and follow.
Is a Fractional Sales Manager a Good Fit For You and Your Culture?
We’ve had several clients who have kept us on board for over seven years, and other times we have helped for a short period of three months. We often stay engaged with a client based on how well our approach will fit a company’s culture and current management approach. If you think you might want to go down the road of hiring a fractional sales manager, the following list could help you decide if this approach would be a fit for you and your company culture. The checklist below is what our company has experienced for clients with tremendous success in leveraging fractional sales management.
- You want and are willing to change to grow the business. Growing sales is more than changing a sales team; it usually takes change from others, including owners.
- Owners with a more trusting leadership approach succeed more since a fractional sales manager is not in the office full-time.
- Your company has proven success with a sales team and process. Maybe your processes have not been the best, but they have brought the business to the current level of success. It confirms the market is there, and improvements should result in more sales. Startups are riskier if your proof of business plan has not been proven.
- A team of 2 or more salespeople so you can find some early gains and trust the process.
- Have or are willing to develop a current business plan to provide your fractional sales manager and the sales team with your clear vision and strategies. The plan fuels us to work toward your vision.
- Comfort with the fractional sales manager not being the product expert and committed to providing the sales team’s product or service knowledge to win business. Most fractional sales managers provide expertise in leading and managing salespeople, not product expertise.
- Attend some sales meetings to support the overall process.
- Willing to provide the technology tools the sales team will need to be successful and support the process and systems.
- They want this to work and hope for a long-term working relationship.
How Do You Hire a Fractional Sales Manager?
Once you’ve found a fractional sales manager, the hiring process is a blend of how you hire an employee and evaluate a service. When hiring an employee, you should determine if the candidate will fit your team and culture well and have the skills required to perform well. When evaluating a service, you should look at its proven process (how they approach Fractional Sales Management) because managing fractionally differs from managing full-time. The last factor is to discern if the manager is asking questions to evaluate a good fit for their service or convincing you that you’d be lost without them. An experienced Fractional Sales Manager understands their approach will not work at all businesses and is confident that it will with the right fit. Once you’ve made a selection, the manager should provide references.
Ideally, you should be contracting with someone you hope will be a long-term solution or get you to the stage of needing a full-time sales manager.
If you’d like to interview us at Sales Manager Now, it’s as easy as choosing a time below. If you are not ready for that, consider getting a read on the strengths and weaknesses in your current sales management approach by spending five minutes completing our Sales Management Assessment.