Can you think of anything more important than driving sales growth? Most companies will tell you they realize the importance of driving sales, but few truly maximize the potential of the sales team. After all, as a manager or small business owner, our days are filled with handling the pitfalls that arise throughout the normal course of business, and oftentimes we leave the sales teams to manage themselves.
Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury of squeezing every cent of sales prior to the end of the billing cycle. I would argue that properly investing in your sales team will make your business grow beyond your wildest expectations. Sounds easy right? Handling a sales team is very similar to farming. Here are a few ideas I have used throughout my career:
Hire a good personality and driven character over a prospect with extensive experience (Planting the seed):
In my 20+ years of hiring salespeople, the ones that have been most successful are the people who have genuinely enjoyed selling and take an interest in their clients. Training someone in your sales process is the easy part, but you cannot coach personality.
The second part of this is the drive necessary to overcome all of the objections salespeople receive. Everyone says they have the drive but how realistic is it that every person we encounter is a winner? Honestly, who walks into an interview and says “I really just want to do enough to get by...” Keep in mind, this is a salesperson and they are selling you on their abilities. Some of my most successful sales team members were people showing their driven personality right on their resume. For example, a college athlete, who is someone that’s truly excelled academically (ALWAYS VERIFY!) or has something they are passionate about. You want a rock star salesperson and they can be built with these two ingredients.
But it does not end there…
Constant interaction is needed in order for you to properly lead. (Watering the crops):
Let’s be real; this is where a majority of managers and business owners are lacking. A sales team needs to have access to the leader; a lot of access. It starts with leading by example… No one wants to work for the boss who barks out orders yet sits behind a desk and does the least amount of work. You need to be the one to provide the energy and excitement for your team. Gain your employees' trust by leading with your work ethic. Whether it be joining them on a tough sales call, assisting with paperwork or helping them fulfill an order, respect will be gained while you are in the trenches with them.
Have weekly sales meetings. I know, I know, we all hate meetings… we have too many of them. This, however, is a meeting you cannot afford to miss. We learn so much from interacting from those around us. It will be easy to identify what strengths or weaknesses a team member has by engaging weekly. The sales meeting is also a great place to monitor sales activity. Remember, what’s tracked is not only more likely to be completed, but you can improve upon your systems. Ask your team about the sales pipeline, take notes, and let them know you care.
Get the most from your team by understanding what motivates them (Harvesting):
We all are different in what motivates us. For some, it is purely money while others are motivated by things like competition, recognition, or building something special. If you are truly rolling up your sleeves and working alongside your sales team, it will become apparent where each individual’s hot buttons lie.
When creating the incentive-based program for the team, do not be afraid of the cliché and think outside the box. An example is a sales team I had a few years back… If we met our quota then the entire team received a bonus. If we exceeded our quota by a certain percentage, we would take a day as a team and go white water rafting. Each time I laced this incentive in place, it was attained and we had a great team-building experience.
Lastly, do not forget the power of praise. Gone are the days of managing a sales team via browbeating. I have always had a policy of praising employees in public while saving criticism for a private conversation. Even the smallest accomplishments should be pointed out. An employee who respects his manager and realizes that respect is mutual will be placed in the ideal conditions for success.
As I stated earlier, building your sales team is like farming. Make sure you are properly investing the time, energy, and resources into your team and you will reap the benefits month by month. Do not be that manager or business owner who is too busy “working” to not work on his or her business.
Remember, sales solve all business problems. So build the proper processes and watch your crops explode.