Building a high-performing sales team comes down to quality fundamentals. To succeed in the sales profession, your team needs to demonstrate consistent mastery of their product and the sales process. They need to have the required skill sets and emotional intelligence, and most importantly, understand the customer’s needs.
Let’s review the keys to building a high-performing sales team:
- Hire the right people (fit to role)
- Establish a sales process and methodology (sales culture)
- Training program (skills, product mastery and administration)
- Sales Goals and Performance Metrics (sales performance)
- Forecasting and Pipeline
- Market Intelligence
- Start with a plan to hire the right people for your sales role.
- Establish a sales process (culture) for the entire company so that everyone is part of your customer’s experience.
- Training – Instill the best practices and provide your team with all necessary skill sets.
- Administer sales performance metrics to keep your team on track.
- Create a winning sales pipeline and forecast process to ensure your team is profitable.
- Leverage market intelligence that will support your sales organization’s sales hypothesis and proposals.
1. Hire the Right People
Building a quality sales organization starts with hiring the right people who are the right fit for the role. Understanding the needs of your sales organization is most important. For example, what type of skills will the salesperson need to represent your company successfully? There are survey tools that can assist you in selecting people who are the Right Fit. Aptology, Inc. has established itself as a leader in this space with its Fit To Role tool. Two of my students were recently offered positions based on their survey results.
2. Establish a Sales Process
In the Professional Sales course that I teach at Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business, we utilize the Consultative Sales Process, which leverages the fundamentals of Xerox’s SPIN selling system. Throughout my tenure at Dow Jones Financial News Services and Elsevier, John S. Hoffman and I collaborated on the further refinement of the Sales Consultative Process.
In my experience working with CEOs, Executive Directors, CROs, and CCOs, I found that most do not have a prescribed sales process and sales methodology. Often the CEO has hired an experienced sales executive, and they feel that they have checked off the sales box. Not having a company-wide sales culture is one of the critical mistakes made in the executive suite, as is delegating the company’s sales process and culture to one individual. In my opinion, the company must have a defined sales process and methodology that sets the foundation for the company’s sales culture.
3. Training, Training, Training
Everyone in the company must be a part of the sales culture and trained in your sales approach to provide your customers and prospects with delightful service. So while your sales leader (CCO, CRO, SVP) will lead the charge every day, it is a must that everyone is part of the sales organization. A company with a defined sales process, methodology, and culture will ensure that everyone is singing from the same hymn book. You will find that successful companies invest significantly in training their sales organizations. Their training focuses on their sales process, including soft skills like listening, asking questions, product knowledge, administrative process, and procedures. Depending on the nuances of their product offering, the training will include other topics.
4. Create Clear Goals for Successful Sales
It is vital to establish clear goals and expectations. One of the downfalls of CEOs is not having established job descriptions, activity goals, annual performance objectives, and an established review process. Management must review these KPIs with each team member monthly, quarterly, and annually.
5. Refine Your Sales Pipeline and Forecasting Process
Successful implementation of the four steps above will create a solid foundation for a successful sales funnel. A well-primed sales funnel leads to a vibrant sales pipeline and ultimately, accurate forecasting. Your pipeline should consist of the prospect, product, dollar value, expected close date, and confidence percentage of closing. The confidence percentage is based on the key factors surrounding the percentages you have assigned to each step of your sales process.
When you multiply the dollar amount times the confidence percentage and match it against a specific month, you will see a forecasted dollar amount for a given month. In the beginning, you will need to modify the forecasts of each of your team members until you have confidence in their forecasting. For example, in building the team at Elsevier, I would discount their projections by 70%. As the group matured and reinforced our sales culture, performance metrics, and training, the forecast accuracy achieved 90%.
6. Leverage Market Intelligence
Demonstrating expertise to your prospects and customers will help position your sales organization for long-term success. In addition, it is a known fact that prospects and customers engage better with salespeople who are knowledgeable about their business and industry. Therefore, you need to provide your sales organization with access to crucial data beyond the publicly available information.
What is your Sales Organization proficiency score? For example, if each of the six areas is worth 16.5 points, would you have a passing score?
Darrell will be the opening headliner at the 4th Annual Sales Team Accelerator Retreat: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange on June 22, 2022 in New York City. He will be discussing What’s Next: Engaging Customers in New Ways Throughout the Buying Journey.
Darrell Gunter is an innovative Digital Sales and Marketing Executive leader experienced in launching, building, conducting turnarounds and managing digital business enterprises in both small and large information and technology businesses. He is also skilled and experienced in advising C-Level executives on their M&A strategy.