You may have the best product or service out there, but if you lack a high-performing sales team, chances are your business will suffer. As anyone who’s ever been in (or dealt with) sales knows, it takes a combination of locating a person with the right sales traits and skills, combined with the best approach to training and guidance, to get the desired result.
Here are tips on building a world-class sales team for your company:
Hire wisely. The hiring process is most effectively employed with a multi-phase approach. Start by identifying the specific needs your business has in the area of sales. From there, craft a succinct and compelling job description that helps weed out inappropriate candidates and narrows the range of applicants for the open position.
Focus on attracting people with a background that closely resembles your business and industry. As sales expert Laurence Bret-Stern observes, “While it is important to be open-minded about experience and background—the experience must be relevant.” A person “with five years’ manufacturing sales is unlikely to be appropriate for your property business.”
Take a systematic approach to the interview process. Interviewing candidates for a sales position is a key element in choosing the right person for the job. Ask each candidate why they want to work for you. Their answers will indicate whether or not they’ve done the necessary “due diligence” on your business beforehand—a useful trait for researching and contacting potential customers on your company’s behalf.
In addition to asking the right questions about past sales experience, knowledge of sales cycles, their process for closing a deal, etc., pay close attention to the candidate’s attitude and demeanor. “The way salespeople sell themselves is the way you can expect them to sell your product or service,” notes sales and customer service expert Wendy Connick.
With the right individual in place, here are suggestions for guidance and support:
Provide the best sales technology resources available. In today’s digital era, no business can hope to compete without a strong investment in sales performance technology. At the very least, a powerful CRM platform is needed so your sales team can track important metrics and update every transaction with prospects up to and including a closed sale.
Other sales-related tasks that once had to be performed manually now require significantly less time and effort due to automation. Email software, for example, automates follow-up messages to prospects, messages that can be personalized and closely tracked for data-collection and other purposes. Whatever technology can do to reduce or eliminate process-oriented drudgery will help your sales team focus on what’s most important—sales themselves.
Strengthen your team with training and coaching. Training in specific areas can enable even your best sales reps to fill in gaps in their experience. Plenty of online sales training courses are available and may be customized for your company’s unique needs. When a salesperson has the opportunity to take part in webinars, attend sales conferences or engage in other learning activities, they can collaborate and share new ideas, but also become re-energized about the entire sales process.
Just as importantly, on-the-job coaching can work wonders with motivated salespeople. Where possible, look for mentoring opportunities that partner a veteran sales team member with an up-and-coming rookie. Or let more experienced sales reps accompany newbies on a sales call and then offer helpful criticism to better achieve their goals. This type of focused interaction and collaboration helps make the entire team stronger.
Every business seeks enthusiastic, hard-working salespeople. By hiring wisely, offering top-notch technical support and coaching for success, you greatly increase the odds that your team will emerge with a deep bench of sales rock-stars for years to come.