More than one sales manager has asked the question, “How can I build a great sales team?” We’ve all admired the sales team that flourishes, consistently hitting their targets and exceeding expectations. We’ve also observed---and wondered---why sales teams that are in the EXACT same industry and EXACT same business environment struggle. They miss sales quotas and barely meet expectations.
So, what separates great sales teams from poor ones? How can you make sure that your sales team falls into the first category?
There is no one answer, however, here are three suggestions I’ll share after working with hundreds of sales organizations.
Build A Great Sales Team By Hiring Team Players
Hire competitive and collaborative team players because one rock star cannot scale a business. This is especially in today’s business environment where change is happening at the speed of light.
Sales messaging that was effective one month ago is now obsolete because of market changes.
Artificial intelligence is impacting the way sales professionals go to market.
This pace of change can be overwhelming even for the most motivated sales professional.
Hence the reason for hiring team players. It takes a a sales village to win in today’s business environment.
Team players show up to group sales meetings and generously share insights and knowledge that is helping them win business. Team players take time to lend a helping hand to a colleague that is struggling, even when they are short on time.
It takes team players to build a great sales team.
Build A Great Sales Team By Avoiding “One and Done” Training and Coaching
This is when a company invests in one or two days of training and consider the learning DONE for the rest of the year.
Now, everyone always agrees that education and training is important---until they have to invest time and money to make it happen!
Sales managers can get blinded by the emotion of fear.
Fear of missed sales because you took your sales team out of the field or off of the phones.
Fear that they won’t see the return on investment quick enough.
Fear that they will train their sales team and a few will choose to leave the company.
Here’s the irony behind this fearful thinking. In tough times, sales team needs to do better and be better. Prospects are slower to make decisions. They scrutinize who they work with and what they invest in more closely than in bad times.
The reality is that without continuous training and coaching, your sales team will slowly decay into an average sales team. The reality is your sales team will lose to the excellent sales team that is investing time and money in training and coaching.
Building great sales teams requires continuous training and coaching.
Build A Great Sales Team By Holding Difficult Coaching Conversations
Talk to anyone that embodies the success traits of accountability and responsibility and you will find a story of a mentor that taught and enforced these traits.
It’s important to remember that when you choose to move into a role of sales leadership, you choose to move into a role of revenue development and people development.
People development will include holding the “crucial sales conversation” when a salesperson isn’t demonstrating the values or selling behaviors expected at your company.
I remember such a conversation many years ago. My boss, a great mentor, held such a conversation when we were meeting for my performance review. I thought it was going to be an easy conversation because my sales team was exceeding sales and margin goals.
However, the conversation took went another direction. My boss shared his appreciation for my work ethic and achievement of numbers. Then he shared the behavior change he expected from me.
“Colleen, first of all congratulations on a really good year. I never doubt your work ethic and dedication to the company. However, in your desire to achieve, you are neglecting to practice the golden rule of treating others the way you want to be treated. When you come into the office in the morning, you head directly to your office, not looking left or right. I’m not even sure you are saying hello to your executive assistant, who is working as hard as you are. And that has to change.”
There was more to the conversation, however, after 30 some years I remember and value that conversation. My boss cared enough to hold the difficult conversation to point out a blind spot. In my determination to achieve goals, I was forgetting to take time to acknowledge other people that were a big part of helping me achieve such goals.
Building great sales teams requires holding the difficult coaching conversations.
Stop struggling to build a great sales team. Hire team players, provide on-going coaching and hold the difficult coaching conversations. Start building your dream team today.