If you were to search the internet for the topic "managing a successful sales team" you will find so much information that you wouldn't know where to start. Some of the tips that you will find out there include “Use the volume-versus-value ratio”, or “Specialize early to grow sales”, or my favorite, “Be results driven”. Because there are companies out there whose sales teams are not focused on results?
All these tips really boil down to three areas that you need to focus on if you want your team to be successful; have the right people, the right processes and the right skills.
Pillar 1: Don't fill your team with the best people, fill it with the RIGHT people.
Looking great on a resume or in an interview doesn't automatically mean that a candidate is the right person for your team. You also need to evaluate the candidate's ability to integrate with your current team and maintain the culture that you worked so hard to cultivate.
Adding a great producer who is unable or unwilling to build relationships with the team or who's attitude is at odds with the personality of the team can act as flashpoint that creates discontent with the other team members. Bringing in the wrong people can cause your existing members to start looking for better opportunities when they weren't currently looking.
Pillar 2: Provide your team with a successful, replicable process to follow.
At the macro level, the process of selling different products is very similar. There are some major steps that all sales process have. There is prospecting, discovery, the pitch, and the close. But when you look at the specific processes from different companies and product lines, you will find that how they execute these major steps are completely different. The most successful sales organizations spend time analyzing their processes to ensure they are moving prospects through the pipeline as quickly as possible.
Many times small businesses will hire sales people and throw them in the field thinking, "They know how to sell. They were successful selling at their last company." Yes, they know how to sell but not how to sell YOUR product or service. Not providing your team a documented process can extend the time it takes for them to start achieving quota as well as lengthen your sales cycle.
Pillar 3: Ensure your team is always improving and refining their selling skills.
Having a great process and great people to run the process is a good start, but if those people don't have the understanding of sales techniques, or even more importantly, if they are not coachable you risk having your sales team burn leads that would have bought your product and service.
As the sales leader you want to be consistently evaluating your sales team and identifying how you can help your team closer more sales faster. In today's world sales tools and techniques are always evolving. It is key to the long term success of your team that you are able to enable their adoption of new ways of doing things. Failing to adapt to the changes in the buying environment will lead to your team stagnating and production slowing. But simply learning a new skill or process is not enough. You need to provide ongoing coaching to help them learn how to apply the new skill to different situations.
In sales management, it is easy to get sucked down a rabbit hole focusing on the newest management buzz words that the "experts" say you need to address to be successful. If focus on the three areas of your program that really matter, the people, the process and the skills, your team will be positioned for success both near term and down the road.