Few functions in a business have as direct an effect on its bottom line as sales. The more you sell, the bigger your revenues and profits. This means that your sales team needs to be as efficient and productive as possible.
But great teams don’t typically just come together. They need to be seeded, built and nurtured. When things aren’t going well sales-wise, it’s often an organisation’s salespeople who bear the brunt of the criticism, being told to raise their games or, worse, losing their jobs. Often, though, a lack of support from within the organisation can be as much a part of the problem. There are five things you need to do well to build a killer sales team:
It goes without saying that in order to build a good team you need to recruit well, but what does good recruitment look like? It’s different for every organisation, but there are three golden rules to stick by:
- Know what you need: You’ll know what type of skills and experience you’ll be after, but few organisations take the time to look at the common traits of their most successful salespeople. Just as marketers draw up profiles of their ideal customers, recruiters should study their sales teams to build up a picture of their ideal salesperson. In addition to the obvious requirements of a role, you’ll begin to spot characteristics that are common to the best performers within your industry, sales approach, company culture and so on.
- Make sure they fit: It’s important that the individuals in any team get on well, but it’s especially important for a successful sales team, whose team-members need to be able to coach and motivate each other when things aren’t going as well as they could. There’s no blueprint for how a person will fit into a team – it depends on the other team individuals and the company culture and environment, among other things. Always be aware that an applicant who looks great on paper may not perform well for your company or may even negatively affect the performances of others.
- Never stop: If you want to find the best salespeople you must be on the look out for them all the time. Recruiting only when you need someone means you risk missing out on finding great salespeople the rest of the time.
Company onboarding is often an overlooked and undervalued element of building a strong team. It stands to reason, though, that preparing a new salesperson as comprehensively as possible will help them to settle in quickly and perform well over the long-term.
In addition to telling new starters about the culture and processes within your organisation, you should take the opportunity to teach them about the organisation’s approach to sales. Modern training approaches like microlearning and Spaced Repetition can be especially effective at getting new sales recruits up-to-speed and ensuring they retain what they are taught.
Sales training is pretty unique within organisations. It is perhaps the area of training that most benefits from a blended approach, for example with some classroom-based theory, some on-the-job training and some regular e-learning. It’s also an area in which the quality of training can be starkly apparent, with both good and bad-quality training impacting a company’s revenue. There are a number of elements we recommend that help to ensure successful sales e-learning:
- Spaced Repetition: Repeated exposure to learning content, with increasing intervals between exposure as knowledge is successfully retained. This helps to drill key knowledge into salespeople and ensure that it has been successfully remembered long-term.
- Gamification: The use of game-playing elements and principles in sales training approaches. This makes training more engaging and enjoyable, improving its effectiveness. It can also foster competitivity within teams, that can also improve effectiveness.
- Mobile learning: Learning via portable or mobile technology. This makes training more accessible and convenient, increasing the volume of training that can be done and improving the effectiveness of training, as employees can choose to learn at times that suit them best.
Regardless of how productive and prosperous your sales team may be at the best of times, there are bound to be occasions when they lack drive, enthusiasm and motivation. Creating a motivational environment should be a priority for any sales leader. This can be easier said than done, but there are some tried and tested methods to try:
- Be positive: Even if your staff are struggling to convert leads and close deals, you will need to remain positive and stay upbeat.
- Be specific: When you are offering praise and providing constructive comments, try and be as specific as possible. Your words will resonate with more weight and meaning.
- Be focused: Take time out of your day to focus attention on motivating the workforce instead of simply looking up from your computer screen and offering up a simple “well done.”
- Be helpful: Offer constructive feedback, not criticism. Always be on hand to deliver helpful advice and to let younger staff benefit from your experience and expertise.
It can be easy to think that revenue is the best measure of sales training effectiveness, but there are too many variables at play for it to be a truly accurate measure. Tracking training effectiveness needs to be more nuanced. There are all sorts of tools and approaches you can take, but, for a rounded picture, you should consider Donald Kirkpatrick’s four levels of training evaluation:
- Reaction: What learners think and feel about the training having undertaken it.
- Learning: How well learners have retained the knowledge delivered by the training.
- Behaviour: How well the learner has put the knowledge into practice.
- Results: What overall impact the training has had.