Five Steps To Building A Championship Sales Team

Joe runs a mid-sized manufacturing company with 19 salespeople. The sales team is a mix of long-time veterans and newcomers. Sales have been flat for the past 18 months, even though the economy has improved. Joe is constantly frustrated with his ineffective attempts to get his team to prospect more. He tries to show them how to sell more effectively, but they continue to fall back into the same old habits. Joe knows that his team can and should be selling at least an additional $5 million in revenues. He feels stuck.

Does this sound familiar? Joe’s is one of the most common situations I encounter as a sales strategist. Companies often underperform because they have not systematically built a sales team. Follow the five steps below to develop a championship sales team of your own.

Re-Evaluate the Strategy

There are three ways to increase sales: Find more customers, make larger sales, and sell more frequently to existing customers. Do you have a strategy that addresses these three areas? More important, are you focused on selling to your ideal customer? Companies often try to sell to everyone, but all of the serious rewards come when they focus on selling to their sweet spot. In Joe’s salespeople are calling on any and every prospect they come across, indiscriminately. He needs to clarify for his team exactly where they should be focusing their time and efforts in order to increase all areas of sales growth.

Assess the Existing Team

It’s critical that you know your sales team, inside and out. How many A-players, B-players and C-players do you have? How does your existing team feel about your organization? How should you manage each salesperson according to his or her strengths and weaknesses? For example, Joe knows that he has only three A-players, eight B-players, and the rest are C-players or worse. He is spending most of his time trying to improve the latter with little to show for the effort. Rather, he must more deeply understand the strengths and weaknesses of each team member and be willing to replace some of his underperformers with new recruits. Both online data-driven assessments and on-site evaluations help to drive this activity.

Develop a Hiring Process

Mid-sized companies rarely have a formal hiring process. Most of these companies are waiting until they desperately need a new salesperson. Then they cull through résumés and set up a few face-to-face interviews, only to hire the most acceptable of the lot. But hiring is the most critical part of developing a championship sales team. It’s time to create a formal process that involves assessments, phone screens, consistent interview questions and role-plays. Right now, Joe has no hiring process and hires people based on his gut. As a result, he has struggled with a number of mis-hires over the years. He needs to formalize this process and remove his gut from the equation as much as possible.

Train Consistently

A suggestion here and there does not count as consistent training. In order to develop a championship sales team, it’s critical that you invest a lot into training. This means conducting regular trainings to reinforce the most critical selling concepts. Every salesperson needs to be on the same page in selling technique. In Joe’s organization, each salesperson sells in his or her own way. They are all over the map in terms of effectiveness. Joe must either develop or bring in an outside selling system for everyone to follow.

Create Accountability

DNA of a Championship Sales Team

Most mid-sized organizations are only tracking their salespeople’s sales numbers. But what about their day-to-day prospecting activities? How many calls are made, referrals asked for and meetings set up? By holding your salespeople accountable to their daily prospecting activities, you can track what their pipeline will be in the future, which is the most important indicator of future sales. Up until now, Joe has only reviewed sales numbers at the end of each month in order to hold his salespeople accountable. This leads to his sales team feeling frustrated and without a clear plan to find success. By laying out what he expects his salespeople to do each day, Joe can more effectively manage his team.

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Meet the Author
Marc Wayshak is a sales strategist located on the web at www.MarcWahshak.com. He is the author of Game Plan Selling and Breaking All Barriers.