Building a Kick-Butt Sales Team

15 Jan

kickbutter

I’ve seen small companies build excellent sales teams from scratch, lousy teams become very good and good sales teams become great. What are the main ingredients in a great sales team?

A sales leader. This may be obvious, but it starts here. I’ve seen many organizations create sales teams without a full-time manager. If you don’t have someone to oversee, push and encourage your salespeople, it’s going to falter. The sales leader is an excellent communicator, task-master and great coach. Hire someone that has already proven that they can build a team by demonstrating their past results and successes.

A great hiring process. I’m a recruiter but I don’t think I’m biased in saying that you must have a strong hiring process. One or two interviews isn’t enough. A sales assessment and team interviewing process are key ingredients to identifying the right people for your team (when I say “right” people that means salespeople that fit your culture and can hit the ground running).

Base salaries and commission structures that can pay them more than their base. Provide them with a reasonable base salary – I’d rather have salespeople worrying about bringing more deals than worrying about their bills. Then give them a realistic shot at exceeding that in commissions (i.e. A salesperson at a $60K base can make $60K in commissions if they are reaching their annual gross margin goals).

A sales process that salespeople can follow. Do you know how to teach your next star? There should be a path to success that they can follow… and a manager that makes sure they succeed by taking the right steps in year one.

KPI’s that hold people accountable. I’d rather fret about a salesperson’s monthly activity and results than micromanage their daily schedule. The metrics should be easy to understand and basically be measured 3 ways: (1) Activities (2) Pipeline and (3) Gross Margin on closed deals. Not only do these measurements exist, but there is accountability from all to reach these goals.

An honest culture. Within the company and within the sales team, everyone is open, direct and honest. People are comfortable discussing their successes and failures. The team is constructively calling one another out on their achievements and mistakes. No one is afraid to speak the truth to one another and –most importantly- to their manager.

A company that is willing to fire people. I’ve worked inside small and mid-size companies that almost never let people go. Give new hires an opportunity but be willing to let them go at 6 months if they aren’t hitting their numbers. All of your salespeople must fit the team culture regardless of their tenure in your company. If you put up with lousy attitudes and under-performers long term, it will affect the psyche of the entire team.

Awesome training. I’ve written an entire post about this recently: Year 1 Training. Especially in year one, a new hire needs more training and assistance than most companies are giving him/her. Are successful salespeople also receiving ongoing training? Is your training better than your competition?

If you’ve implemented my 8 suggestions above, you probably didn’t need to read this article. Because you already have a kick-butt sales team!

It’s time to grow faster! Drew

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

 

 

 

 

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