Fostering a Super Star Sales Team
It is said that the chain is as strong as the weakest link. Applied to organizations and their sales teams, it simply stresses the home truth that every individual has to contribute to that success in equal measure. Especially so for small business, where the importance of this adage cannot be stressed enough but where it is also the most likely to NOT happen ! Why ? The reasons, although not too difficult to fathom, most owners and sales managers will get blind-sided by the obvious and identify reasons that are superficial rather than deep rooted.
Because most small businesses operate with limited number of sales people, invariably some salespersons thrive delivering excellent performance, while others perform just enough to ensure that they merit their existence. The small business owner is faced with the dilemma to push the performers even harder to make up for the lack of others’ contributions OR open up to the feasibility of new hires. Either way it eats into precious time and money both of which could be better utilized closing a sale.
In his book, Winning Lifelong Customers with The Five Abilities, Rick Wong, advocates developing the five abilities1 – Visability, Credability, Viability, Capability and Reliability to reinforce that sales success is built on customer relationships, formed through trust, energy and effort that converts a one-time customer into a lifetime customer. However putting this into action and developing it into a habit is not easy. Rather, it’s downright difficult! It requires constant learning, adapting and implementation that is so easily lost in the day to day pressure that salespersons face. Those who are successful, are executing on these principles in some way or the other.
Small business owners will always find this challenging and providing training and workshops is not the answer. The best possible way is to reinforce the necessary behaviours by practicing them daily. This is best achieved by coaching and mentoring.
Do you or your sales manager spend enough time coaching your sales team ? The answer will provide you the deep rooted reasons as well as the direction that you need to take to ensure a sustainable change.
Some key actions that can raise the effectiveness of sales teams are:
- Define Measurable Goals : Goals give you purpose. And focus. Goals can be personal, short term & long term, activities, individual targets etc. They need to be trackable so that each salesperson owns them and is held accountable thus driving individual achievement.
- Build Trust : Trust is important. You need to build trust on both personal and professional fronts so that your sales team knows that you’re not just driving them but also supportive of them. Providing guidance, two way open communication or even just being available will help create strong bonds that will motivate individuals to over deliver.
- Spend more time with your ‘B’ players : While you know that your best players will perform, it is the ‘B’ players that can benefit the most by your coaching. Spending more time with them – joining them on client meetings, listening on client conference calls , providing them feedback as well as showing them how it is done goes a long way in improving their skills. At the same time ensure that the top performers do not rest on their success, calling out their lack of effort when it shows.
- Analyse Performance : Quantitative analysis is also paramount. Get your CRM reports ( or the Excel tracker if you’re still there), check the lead indicators for relevant and sufficient activity. Combining the quantitative data and qualitative observations will help identify the individual’s strengths, weaknesses and even unproductive techniques, thus helping you focus on appropriate corrective actions.
- Recognize and Reward : They say ‘Nothing succeeds like success’. Recognition of success boosts morale and motivates everyone. It is also important to note that not only outcomes but also positive behavioural changes should be applauded. It is finally the incremental behavioural shifts that make a difference and a positive impact on the outcomes in the long term. A deal win or a quarterly target achievement dinner, recognizing a monthly sales topper or a brilliant presentation or even simply saying thank you for the contribution will go a long way in ensuring the sales team is motivated and aiming higher consistently.