5 Steps to Creating a Winning Sales Team
Updated: Dec 29, 2019
1. Give them a goal
They all must have a goal. Tailor that goal to their ability and past performance. Not all salespeople should have the same goal. Collaborate with each sales team member to determine thier monthly goal which gains commitment and buy in.
Whats the best way to determine a goal? It starts with a sales plan for the company. This does not have to be elaborate. You can simply break the total team goal down by 12 months. Then by the salesperson. The only rule is that the sales team goals have to be tied to the company's monthly sales goal.
Why are goals so important?
Imagine any kind of sport without a score. The score is what keeps people informed on where they stand. They can gain a sense of success or the pressure to catch up. It’s simple and works. In my coaching experience, when I’m brought in to turnaround a sales team, it’s the first question I ask. “What are the goals of the sales team?”
Most often, well almost always, “broken” sales team have either no goals or some very weak, vaugue number that are not thought out in a way that ties to a company target. Let me tell you that is a big red flag and probably one of the most critical reasons why they are not performing very well. They just don’t know specifically, what is expected of them. Seems so simple but I see it all the time.
The best sales leaders are target and deadline driven. In personality testing, top sales managers scored 19% higher in the self-discipline facet, 20% higher in the success-driven facet, and 27% higher in the priority-focused facet than underperforming sales managers. As a result, they have the natural disposition to fixate their team on achieving their revenue goals at the exclusion of all else.
They block out distractions and compartmentalize negative news that might sidetrack their team or cause their department to flounder. They keep their team focused and moving forward with a sense of urgency, regardless of the circumstances.
2. Hold Them Accountable
Sales Team Management is 80% leadership and 20% management. The sales managers who focus on strong leadership are the winners. A critical point of leadership is accountability.
One part of accountability that often gets missed is fair accountability for all. No one person on a team, including the manager, can get special treatment when it comes to clear accountability. The worse thing a leader can do to their team is allow an underperformer or disruptor, to stay on the team with no repercussions. The higher performers will be affected by these underperformers.
It drives great salespeople crazy, and they often get fixated on these poor performers not being dealt with. The top perfomers will almost always slip in performance themselves due to the way this affects their own drive.
Face it; the team is looking to the manager to do something about this problem person. Every day you avoid dealing with it erodes the level of leadership the sales manager has with the rest of the team. A little each day, the respect for the manager erodes, drip by drip until you have a much bigger problem.
A sales manager is risking losing one of the better performers. Deal with problem team members professionally but deal with it swiftly. “Management is paid to overcome problems not live with them.” Salespeople talk amongst themselves and feed on each other emotions.
If you are dealing with a problem employee, they’ll know without you ever having to tell anyone.
Great sales leaders hold their team to a higher level of accountability. Seventy-five percent of high-performing sales managers agreed that their salespeople are consistently measured and held accountable against their quota, compared to 58% of underperforming sales managers.
However, their authority is not autocratically administered as you might think. Rather, it is based upon establishing an environment where sales team members continually seek to prove themselves, thereby driving higher overall departmental performance. The leaders establish this culture using an inspirational development approach for their team members. Including the the top performers!
Daily updates on performance. Be encouraging on down days and rewarding on good days. Celebrate wins, and catch them doing it “Right.” Feed their head! always remember you have to keep the "emotional bank account" filled.
Update the sales board daily. You do have a sales board, right? Make the salesperson enter their number each day. It needs to be in a visible location for the sales team but should not be where customers can see the board. Even if it is a virtual board that is on an intrnal drive like G-Drive or similar. You want them to check the score every single day!
Have a monthly review with each salesperson for about 30 min each. Discuss the monthly targets and goals and how they achieved. Underperformers must be dealt with quickly and move on.
Weekly sales team meeting are mandatory for updating the entire team on performance. Praise in public and criticize in private. Keep that rule in mind. Never call out an under perfroming sales team member in the meeting.
3. Hire the right fit
Interviewing and hiring sales professionals can be efficient, or it can be effective. You really must take your time and improve the effectiveness of your hires.
Don’t fall into the trap of making pressure hires. Most of the time, you will regret rushing the process and making snap decisions.
Especially decisions that are based on experience. Don’t get me wrong; experience is a plus but not always a must. If you take an inventory of the traits and competencies of your best sales team members, use that as your guide. What are some of the traits?
Ability to Connect with others
Notice experience is not noted. One of the best sales people I ever had was a truck driver prior to moving into sales. Making the experience a “nice to have” not a “must have” avoids having to break your new hire of bad habits. You must use a behavior bassed interview approach in order to determine if the candidate possess these traits. Not using a behavior based interview approach? Contact me for a copy of the 100 Best Sales Interview questions that are all behavior based questions. Vaughn@vsigmon.com
Use a role play as part of your Interview process
Always use a preemployment sales DNA assessment. I have a couple I like from Sales Drive
Contact me and I will get your prospects set up with a link to complete them.
My experience has taught me that when you do hire someone who starts showing problems early, they don’t get better with time. They only get worse. Then they are the hardest in the world to separate from. Believe me on this. I have the bruises to show you.
Remember, effective hiring is key. Take it slow and do it right. Learn from previous mistakes and avoid them as you are reviewing candidates. Hiring slow is a part of my “Secret Sauce” to building world-beating sales teams. Hire the person, not the experience.
The ability to hire quality talent will determine the success or failure of the sales organization. Seventy-two percent of high performing sales managers rated the sales team they manage as excellent or above average, compared to 54% for underperforming sales managers.
· Use the “Ultimate Interview Guide” I offer (Contact me for a free copy)
· Use the pre-employment sales assessment I offer (Contact me for details)
· Hire the quality of a person, not the experience of the person.
· Advertise for the right person, not the job description
· Hire the person or personality you want, not experience
· Hire Slowly and effectively
· Establish reasonable metrics to make sure they know what is expected of them daily.
· Get some sales management training.
·Contact me at Vsigmon.com for more information on Results Driven Sales Management Training. This training is a solid cure for underperforming sales teams. Believe me, you don’t know what you don’t know. Let’s fill in some gaps.
4. Sales intuition.
Being a sales manager, you have to be empathetic to the life and frustrations of a salesperson. In my article on the “Proper Care and Feeding of a Salesperson,” I offer that 90% of a sales professionals success is mental.
Keep their head right, and sales will be at a higher performance level. Get them fixated mentally on how they have been wronged or mistreated and you have an anchor. The best ones can pull themselves out of a slump, but that’s the top 2% only. The rest fixate and are highly influenced by their mindset. They talk amongst themselves, and that only builds the frustration and lets the air out of their drive. Salespeople can be the biggest gossips on the planet. Don’t give them negative food to feed on.
Provide them with high-performance mental food, then stand back and enjoy the benefits. Is that a contradiction to accountability? NO! Not if you are treating everyone with the same level of expectation.
If you are truly value added to the success of a salesperson, they will kill for you. They will go through walls and not doors. In 100% of the interviews I’ve conducted for salespeople when I ask, “Who is the best boss you ever had?” the response is around the manager who taught them the most. Are you a mentor, teacher, advocate, supporter, etc.? They have to believe sincerely that their sales manager is their biggest fan. People work for people, not companies. If they are unhappy, it’s the manager's fault. If they quit, they quit the manager, not the company.
Sales is a mentorship-based profession, and a key differentiator of great sales leaders is their ability to dispense tactical sales advice and add value during customer meetings. While the average sales experience for both high-performing and underperforming sales managers was 17 years, High-performing sales managers estimated they had achieved their annual quota 88% of the time over the course of their career. Underperforming sales managers indicated they had achieved their quota 75% of the time.
This suggests that the depth of a manager’s sales intuition—the practical knowledge gained from the experiences of participating in sales cycles and managing salespeople—is directly associated with their success.
5. Coaching adaptability
Great sales leaders understand that there is a diversity of selling styles by which salespeople can achieve success.
Therefore, they don’t employ a one-size-fits-all coaching style. Rather, they adapt their style to suit each individual. The fact that high-performing sales managers had a higher team effectiveness factor than underperforming teams supports these statements.
Give them the idea not the way and have them form how to adapt it to their style. If their way is not working, you must have them adapt. There’s an old term in sales. “Let Loose in order to take hold.” If you allow them the empowerment to do things with their style, you dramatically increase buy-in from the team. This is one of those entries from the high-performance food group.
When faced with challenges or difficulty don’t ever leave the sales team out from sharing their opinions on how to address those challenges. Granted, some of their ideas will be a bit extreme or unaffordable. They are sales professionals, not financial professionals. Just asking and seeking their input is a huge motivation for sales team members.
Use what you can from what they suggest. However, if there is a strong suggestion that is not possible, tell them the “Why.” Don’t ever leave that suggestion hanging. That is negative food.
I hope this helps. It has for me for over a decade of hiring thousands of highly effective salespeople.
Contact me for more information or to discuss how I can fix your sales problem. Our Results Driven Sales Management Training is just the right apporach to provide the skills, knowledge and tools for creating a winning sales team.
Do you feel that you could be a better sales manager? Are you driven to succeed at the highest level possible?
Let’s face facts. Many, if not most, sales managers are promoted into position for thier sales ability. Now that they are a manager, where’s the training to teach them to be a manager and leader? How to create processes and compensation programs? How to communicate, inspire, lead, plan, etc.?
Way too often these key skills are left to chance. Trial and error should not be a developmental approach.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free sales process assessment.