5 Steps to Creating a Winning Sales Team
"Great sales teams don't just happen overnight; they are built from the ground up"
In order to create a culture of motivated, enthusiastic, compelling sales reps, you will need to start with the basics and build an organization that challenges them, rewards them, and provides opportunities for growth. Salespeople are a different type of people; they are energetic, outgoing, competitive, and driven by new challenges. Like anyone, good reps will look for a company with a bright future. If you can find a way to keep them happy and motivated, not only will the increase revenues, but they will also bring energy to your organization that will continue to attract the right people.
Challenge Your Salespeople
Good salespeople are driven by competition. For every business, there is at least one competitor. Often the difference between closing a sale and leaving empty-handed comes down to which rep wanted the close more. Challenge your sales reps to do their best everyday by leading from the front, establishing goals, and driving their competitive instincts through competition.
Your salespeople will look to you first for leadership and direction so in order to challenge sales reps, you must first set the example. Even if you don’t have a sales background, lead by example through integrity, passion, and hard-work. Your reps will look up to you and will dig deeper within themselves as a result.
Next, help them set goals. Provide detailed insight on their sales performance and where they could create improvements. Whether rookies or experienced sales rockstars, everyone needs to know what their sales targets are. This will provide a clear understanding of what is expected from them and what tools are available to help them achieve these objectives. Salespeople should be relaxed and comfortable when they finally sit down to make the pitch. So, rather than setting sales-closed goals, consider setting goals on things such as number of meetings booked, number of offers sent, or number of prospects contacted. This takes the pressure away from making the sale and allows them to instead focus on building positive, long-lasting relationships.
Finally, consider creating competitions. By taking advantage of your sales reps’ natural competitiveness and desire for friendly competitions, you can increase fun, motivation, and performance. Using leaderboards or a monthly/weekly “Wall of Fame” can be a great way to provide recognition to your salespeople. You could also set a key target such as number of offers sent or number of meetings booked and holding a digital race where the winner unlocks a trophy or badge. Rewards for the winners may include offering a 1:1 meeting with the CEO or lunch at their favorite restaurant. As much as sales reps enjoy competition, they also like being rewarded for their efforts. By doing this, you can simultaneously increase morale and revenues.
Enhance Integration between Sales and Marketing
Sales and Marketing go together like peanut butter and jelly. Sure, you could have just one or the other, but they are so much better together. In order to really create winning sales teams, you must create a strong brand for them to sell, back it with digital marketing campaigns, and encourage active collaboration between the sales and marketing teams.
In an ideal world, a client would stumble across your product on the interwebs, say to themselves “That is EXACTLY what I was looking for. I’ll buy it for my entire staff today” and make an online purchase. While this isn’t impossible, it is a bit of a fairytale. In reality, your sales staff should be tracking data, logging prospects, and contacting them within a couple of days of the time they were on your website.
The goal of marketing used to be to simply create a strong brand and make it visible. Nowadays, the majority of customers do their own product reviews online before purchasing. This means that things like SEO, email marketing, blogging, newsletters, and paid online ads have become a necessary part of the sales funnel by providing information and driving interest. The amount of choice to consumers is greater than ever before but the one thing that hasn’t changed is the power of the human connection to drive in sales.
Your marketing team should be creating interest and driving leads which are then handed off to the sales teams for closing. There should be so much direct interaction between your sales and marketing staff that they could swap roles if they had to. Marketing teams must understand their salespeople and must create products and approaches that cater to the needs of the sales teams. Likewise, sales teams must constantly be in contact with the marketing teams to give customer feedback, suggestions, and desires. There also must be an integrated effort to create customer cases, success stories, and testimonials. Customer reviews are often cited as the highest reason for why a customer purchased a product.
By properly integrating your sales and marketing teams, you can unlock almost unlimited potential for revenue growth. However, for as long as you allow them to work like independent departments, you will continue to watch money slip through your fingertips.
Take Care of Your Customers
There is one universal rule in business: A company which does not take care of its customers will fail. It doesn’t matter how great your product is or how well you market it, if your customers are not happy or if you cannot fix it when it’s broken, you will go out of business. As it should be.
One of the primary goals of any organization must be customer care. Let them know that you appreciate their business, that you are thankful that they have chosen to use your product, and that will do everything possible to ensure their satisfaction and loyal support. One of the most effective methods of landing a sale is through word-of-mouth. If a customer uses your product and says great things about it to their friends or network, the chances that the referral will turn into a sale are exponentially higher than if they simply stumble across it themselves. In fact, Forbes ranked word of mouth as THE most important social media selling tool.
Happy customers, positive reviews, and direct referrals will make your sales teams’ job much easier. In addition, your brand recognition will grow. If you want to create a winning sales team, start by creating winning customers.
Establish Solid KPIs
You don’t need to track a zillion different performance indicators; especially if you don’t understand what half of them even mean. Understand your business and track the KPIs that are most relevant to your organization. For instance, in sales here we generally track conversion rate, new leads per month, forecasted vs. actual sales, offers sent, and budget progression. We track these because we believe they are the best indicators of our total sales growth as a company and also because we sell only a few products. Whatever KPIs you choose, be sure to choose what fits you best.
So, how can KPIs help you create winning sales teams? Simple. A sales team who understands the organization’s most important performance indicators and who drives together to move the needle on those is guaranteed to boost revenue and performance in your organization. Tracking performance on KPIs can increase your revenues in three simple steps:
- Salespeople who have a clear understanding of how you determine, track, and calculate value can easily see exactly where they fit in in the organization and how they contribute.
- Those salespeople who understand their direct contributions feel more fulfilled.
- Salespeople who are more fulfilled will bring positive energy, excitement, and confidence into the meeting room; all of which are all highly likely to influence closing a sale and thus increasing revenues.
Help your salespeople out by determining your most important KPIs, clearly defining them, providing recognition when they are achieved, and giving continuous feedback and support to continue the cycle.
Leverage Your Data
It is almost impossible to say enough about the importance of sales data in the modern digital age. Data drives decisions in the business world and creating a clear picture of how your reps are performing individually and as a team will allow you to take action when needed. If your sales reps need some help, coach them. If they need more leads, help provide them. If they deserve a pat on the back, give it to them. Use data to help you understand and accomplish these.
Coaching is a key component of encouraging growth and performance. Whether your salespeople have been in the business for decades or are just starting out, everyone has something to learn. In-house coaching is a great way to build collaboration and teamwork by allowing your top performers to give invaluable insight to their fellow salespeople. Establishing performance review sessions based and allowing teams to provide feedback and lessons to one another is an incredible way to boost performance and make your sales reps feel valued. Hiring consultants and outside coaches is another great way to learn new tricks, set goals, establish actions, and help your teams understand the psychology behind sales. If you can combine effective coaching with an understanding of your sales data, you can unleash incredible performance growth in your salespeople.
Generating leads can be difficult; but leveraging your data sets will improve your sales pipeline and allow you to more quickly discover and contact potential leads. Previously, much of a reps’ time was spent on researching new leads. With integrated data, you can easily see market trends, discover new opportunities, collaborate with your teams, and process leads. Understanding the market and being able to visualize data in order to generate opportunities and growth will allow your salespeople to hit the ground running each day and never have to stop and ask for directions.
Lastly, you can use data to track team performance and provide encouragement where it is due. Nothing motivates a sales rep quite like hearing “congratulations!” or “good job!” from their peers. With all of their data, reports, and progress visible, it becomes much easier to recognize and acknowledge achievements. Remember, one key to building a winning sales team will also be showing respect and appreciation where it is due. So, when the screens and data sets make it easier for you to see the great work that your salespeople are doing, remember to take a minute and tell them how much you appreciate their hard-work.
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Written by David Smith - 04/05/2015