About the Author As Director of Sales Operations at SmartDraw, Steve Peterson helps our customers use SmartDraw to communicate more effectively with visuals. At home, he spends most of his free time entertaining his 4 year old daughter. A Minnesota native, he is an avid sports fan, rooting for his Alma mater, the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Building the foundation of a winning sales team isn’t something that can be broken down into a few simple steps. It’s a collection of many different ideas and components that when put together, creates a culture of teamwork and success. While this list isn’t exhaustive, here are a few tips that have served me well in building a winning sales teams.
HIRING & ON-BOARDING
It’s called a hiring process because it is one. It’s a process and it needs to be well defined and followed. Hiring the wrong person costs time, money and it’s emotionally exhausting. Get others involved and invite people outside of the sales department to participate in the interview process. Ramping up in sales is mission critical for new hires. Develop a detailed on-boarding program and make sure your new hire is ready to sell the day training is complete. Train new hires on both sales processes and product knowledge. Role-play is something that has helped not only prepare new hires for the job, but it has also exposed new hires that needed additional training or were likely to fail. Despite how well you do in your hiring process, you will still find some that don’t make it out of training.
A key component to a positive sales culture is understanding how the sales team and the individual align with the company’s strategic objectives. Spend time discussing company strategy with every sales person, then break it down so each one can see how they contribute to the overall company vision. Sometimes a company changes course, so make sure to communicate that so everyone is on board with the changes.
Top performers usually follow a very strict sales process. Understand what that is, then document it so everyone can be trained on it. This serves as the road map to guide your sales force on every deal. The objective is to focus on moving the prospect through your process one step at a time. Having a detailed sales process is essential to achieving team quota. Just like all processes, a sales process can always be improved. Review and improve your process with the help of your team.
Get the team involved in every aspect of the sales department. Understand why you are winning deals and why you are losing them. Share that information internally so others understand how to position your product in similar situations. Work on sales process improvement as a team. Set up quarterly meetings to review sales processes and brainstorm ideas to improve them. Develop compensation plans together. They are the sellers, find out what motivates them, then develop a compensation plan that will incentivize them to sell the products needed to achieve quota.
Sales can be a grind. Every month or every year your past accomplishments are forgotten and you have to start over again. To keep spirits up, get the team together outside of the office to socialize. Whether that’s a monthly happy hour, bowling, or even volunteering together, I think you will find the team is happier and more productive when you can let off steam outside of the office.
Everyone likes to be recognized for a job well done. Go beyond annual awards ceremonies and start recognizing top contributors every week or month. Say thank you every time someone exceeds expectations. That doesn’t always have to be a big sale. It could be a nice comment from a customer, or when someone on the team helps another close a deal. Positive reinforcement goes a long way in making your team feel appreciated and part of the overall success of the company.