Over the course of my career, I’ve grown businesses with sales teams ranging from just a few sales people to over two hundred, both in the field and on the phone/Webex.
Like most CEOs, it takes quite a few battle scars to figure out what doesn’t work, before you hopefully arrive at what does. But it’s a new year so why not kick things off differently. As they say: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
Too much time is often spent on addressing the mediocre performers (generally hiring mistakes that need weeding out) and not enough on turning the better sales people into “best in class”.
One way I illustrated this to one of our top performers was that he might be the sales equivalent of a karate black belt, but to be the best it doesn’t stop there – as in karate, there is a “dan” stage with ten levels. So why wouldn’t you want to be the best and attract the best into your team?
Here are my top 10 questions to ask yourself when building a high performance sales team:
1. Would you buy from this man/woman?
If they can’t sell to you and your team as part of a role play, why would you let them loose on your prospects and customers? Test them relentlessly internally.
2. How well do they know their territory?
A sales territory is like a franchise. Accountability should rest with the sales person responsible for the territory to get the most out of it and not just sell but keep customers really happy too.
That means really good quality data on customers and prospects (trust me this is not generally anywhere near as good as you might believe), obtaining reference sites and ensuring that marketing lead generation campaigns have the blessing and ownership of the sales team, rather than just complaining that marketing are not delivering enough.
If the sales person feels that accountability, they will drive the organisation to deliver what they need, rather than feeling it is outside their control.
3. How consistently do your team pitch?
One of my bugbears is the quality of elevator pitch, sales pitch consistency and use of a sales methodology inc documentation in the CRM (e.g. SPIN).
Think of your sales team development as a Sales Academy, not just a “sheep dip” but continuous learning. At one Sales Kick Off with well over a 100 sales people present, we told the team that a number of their names would be pulled out of a hat and asked to come on stage to pitch to their peers.
This helped focus the mind, as who wouldn’t want to look good rather than stupid in front of their peers?
4. What is the link between activity and performance?
Understand the capacity of each of your sales team. How many calls, appointments, proposals etc can they do per week vs the number they are actually doing?
It is very rare not to find a direct correlation between the high activity and high performance of your best people.
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