Don’t waste your time (or anyone else’s) by doing things half-heartedly. In most cases you won’t get the right answers.
Understand your office ethos before you hire. Traditionally your boiler room-type sales team works well when it comes to selling packaged products, but when it comes to strategy or services, the relationship-type sales team will surely take you further.
Your team is the sum total of your selections. You need to know who you want and why. Of course there’s value in hiring the well-connected and experienced heavy hitters, but your sales team might just need an injection of new blood.
Fresh, hungry graduates understand the need to perform in this highly competitive industry. A combination of veteran and new kids on the block will ensure you have the best of both.
Here are the five core ingredients that I have found make a difference when growing a great sales team.
1. Start with the right people.
People are at the heart of sales so invest time and patience. Six months is a fair time to let someone prove their mettle. Seek out your employees’ strengths. You need people who can open doors and establish new relationships.
This is the truest test of resilience. Can you hang in there? Can you get up after being knocked down again and again? Can you take the knocks and rise to the occasion with enough finesse that no one could consider saying no to you. Can you find a way to the ball if all you have is a pumpkin?
2. Train your team.
Training your team is as important as hiring so it’s critical that as a business owner you take the reins when it comes to showing them the ropes. It’s about product training, company process and role-play, and no one understands your business’s nuances better than you do.
Teach your team to get leads by understanding the angle. People who are good at canvassing know who they are looking for – position your service or product as the customer’s solution before they ask for one.
3. Develop rhythm.
As people we’re creatures of habit. Sales meetings need to be regular. In an environment where meeting or missing targets could define tomorrow, people need to feel like the boss is on their side. Use this regular time to discuss those targets and incentives, offer the advice and wisdom that put you at the helm of the ship in the first place.
The success of a good boardroom manner is a dash of schizophrenia. When someone drops the ball you need to let them and the rest of the team feel the sting of your disappointment, but in the same breath congratulate and applaud those who exceed expectations. Set the tone.
Sales incentives work but only to a point. If you want to see people push their own boundaries then try more high fives. People are driven by different forces so get to know them. For some it’s money, for others the challenge or the recognition. Everyone has a different carrot.
4. Create the right work environment.
Is your work environment conducive to your staff’s best performance? The open-plan office is both competitive and collaborative in driving people to work harder and smarter. It’s a set-up designed to breed excellence.
5. Preparation is key.
Instil respect amongst your team for all meetings. Don’t allow them to burn through leads – prepare properly. If you can’t get a meeting this week push for next week – but make it happen. Remember, no pressure, no diamonds.
Finally, as a business owner who is also the sales manager, know your leadership style. Some demand respect while others lead by example.
The above is a solid recipe to building your dream sales team, but the key ingredient is emotional intelligence. Does your team have the ability and correct level of EQ to really read a situation; to adjust their own approach in dealing most effectively with the needs and emotional level of others? As the boss, best you make sure.