Product or service bells and whistles – check. Price sweet spot – check, check. Sales – shockingly dismal. What gives? Studies show that many times, companies are unable to create a profitable business because their salesforce is not up to snuff.
Selling takes skill, discipline, passion, and strategy. As a result, building a world-class crew can be tedious and complex. However, you’re unlikely to achieve your revenue potential if your sellers are weak. With that in mind, this article broadly explores the six steps you can use to create a killer salesforce.
Besides being expensive, poor hires can poison morale and create a toxic environment. As a result, the entire team’s performance could take a nosedive. So, attracting the right talent is a critical first step in building your team.
To hire well, sales recruitment training programs say you need a well-defined process. A watertight strategy helps you evaluate what you need and how to screen talent more accurately. A hefty dose of patience is also key as you navigate the hiring process. Often, you may need to wade through an ocean of candidates to find those that best fit the bill.
Managers or leaders who take a “sink or swim” approach toward new hires are jeopardizing the chances of their new talent thriving. Even with the most dazzling candidates, feeling left to fend for themselves is likely to cause a loss of faith in your company. So, once you’re done hiring, make professional development a priority.
Comprehensive sales training programs help amplify high-value behaviors that deliver ongoing success. Regular skill improvement courses also help employees work smart, keep their skills current, and attract highly qualified, motivated people. A survey of sales agents by Combined Insurance found that ongoing skills development opportunities were behind the search for new employment for a whopping 96.7% of respondents.
Choose an optimal department structure
The structure of your team plays a critical role in its success. A winning setup can reduce conflict, maximize performance, and improve communication and decision-making. Some examples of structures you may choose to work with include the following:
- The Assembly Line – the sales process is broken down into individual tasks that are handled by different people.
- The Island – a business owner or department head oversees multiple sales reps. Reps are individually responsible for each stage of the sales process from beginning to end, i.e. lead generation to close.
- The Pod – a team of salespeople (sales development reps, account executives, customer success managers) work together as a cohesive unit.
- Industry/product/service models – grouping reps based on industries you serve or products/services you offer.
In their training programs, the best sales experts say that there are a number of factors to consider to ensure you choose an optimal setup. Some of those factors include the following.
- Size of the team and customers
- Number of products/services offered
- Number of regions/territories served
Set the right goals and KPIs
Well-articulated goals help your team keep a sharp focus to get you to where you want to be. Having clear goals means everyone can be on the same page and pitching in to work toward a common purpose.
Experts who specialize in sales operations training programs say goals need to be realistic. Effective goals also have an appropriate balance of motivation and healthy competition. You’ll want to set individual and group-level goals. Make sure the two are not in conflict with each other or the rest of the organization, as you may unwittingly incentivize sabotage.
Once you hash out the relevant goals, identify key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs clear up any confusion about what constitutes success.
Measure and track performance
It’s impossible to build a top-notch sales team if they’re stuck using ineffective tools and processes. One of the best ways to ensure you’re not flogging a dead horse is to frequently track and measure performance. Some key metrics you can choose to watch include:
- KPIs – e.g., monthly revenue growth, average profit margin, monthly bookings, quote to close ratio, etc.
- Sales activity – e.g., leads created, calls made, emails sent, etc.
- Lead generation – e.g., average response time, percentage of leads followed up with, dropped or qualified, etc.
- Channel sales – e.g., sales velocity rate, customer satisfaction, program utilization, channel ROI, etc.
Ultimately, sales recognition training programs say you want to hawkishly monitor metrics that are key business drivers. Also, remember that performance trackers are most beneficial when they’re simple to introduce and maintain. In turn, this helps your employees work smarter, not harder.
Celebrate both big and small wins
Recognition and acknowledgment bring out the best in most people. So, no matter how frenzied business gets, pause and shine a spotlight on employees who are crushing it, no matter how small the achievement. Celebrating accomplishments also helps reinforce desirable behavior and builds momentum.
To ensure fairness and ease, jot down guidelines to clarify what does and does not get celebrated. Also, you want to identify which types of gifts to award for different wins. Honoring the salesperson leading the pack is a no-brainer. However, studies show that also recognizing a few runners-up can increase sales effort and performance.