10 essential questions to improve your sales team quickly

5. How long are target horizons? 

Isn’t it strange how in some sectors, sales peaks come at the end of the sales commission period, whether that’s monthly, quarterly or annually? 

There is a lot to be said for setting shorter time horizons for sales targets. If your target is £500k pa, that’s c£45k pm (allowing for holidays) and more importantly over £2k per day. Measure in days.

6. Do top sales people make top sales managers? 

In my experience the answer is “not necessarily”. Too often top performers get promoted to manager and fail. 

Managing and getting the best out of a sales team is a different skill set that needs support to be developed.

7. How well qualified is the pipeline? 

Good pipeline software will help you get visibility of your pipeline, as long as it is policed effectively and manage the stages to weight it. 

It’s essential you understand the lead gen activity you need to build a pipeline which based upon your sales conversion rates will deliver the revenue you need. I am constantly amazed by how many businesses “fly blind” in this area.

8. Have you identified the right characteristics of Hunters vs Farmers? 

When we introduced Account Manager (“Farmers”) into IRIS, rather than putting our average performers onto it as so often companies do, we put our highest performers into this new role. It was a resounding cross-sell success.

9. Is there a culture of teamwork? 

We talk about sales teams but too often they are groups of individuals. If you can get them to work as a team and help each other, overall performance can be compounded and it’s a much happier culture to be part of.

10. How do you celebrate success? 

Transparent scaled commission schemes are essential but personal recognition is paramount. League tables, Top Gun days, Awards and President’s Club are a key component in motivating individuals to out-perform again and again.

Martin Leuw is a serial entrepreneur and former CEO of IRIS, the UK’s largest private software house. 

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