Eight steps to building a winning sales team…
Step #1 – Identify Key Characteristics:
Outstanding sales people consistently possess the following habits:
- Attitude: People attract what they are and what they feel. Great sales people focus their thoughts and energy on what they can do, what is possible, and what they want. The result is that more doors open for them naturally with less effort. Winning sales people are excited, enthusiastic, and passionate about what they are selling. This creates a natural magnet which others are drawn towards.
- Consistency: Great sales people have excellent and consistent habits. A sales person with poor sales skills but great habits will outperform an excellent sales person with bad habits and inconsistency. Time management skills are critical and having systems in place will make an average sales person a top sales person. Great sales people are MADE not born.
- Patience: Top sales people are in it for the long haul. They are like a hunter in a tree waiting days for the prey to show. They understand the actions, activities, and seeds they plant today will bear fruit in the future. They are committed to what they are doing and are willing to stay in the game as the results manifest. They do not succumb to the ups and downs of the daily grind but simply understand that it is part of the bigger picture and it comes with the territory. The just don’t give up.
- Offers choices: In today’s market customers want choices. Effective sales people offer choices and gently guide their customers into the choice that is best for them. Effective sales people are creative in putting together offerings with choices.
- Focuses on existing customers: Top sales people understand it takes five times as much effort and five times as much money to sell to new client compared to a current client. Focusing their attention on existing clients and providing them new products and choices is a much more efficient approach.
- Commitment to adding value: Top sales people understand that by making “value add” the priority over making money that the money will follow. Have your sales people think this thought prior to each call “what can I do to add value to this person”. This way of thinking changes the energy of the conversation and thus creates a much warmer call or meeting. People are smart and they know if you are in it to help them or just to make a buck off of them.
- Displays confidence in product: Top sales people believe in their product, believe in their company, and believe in their team. When you really believe in something you can sell almost anything. If your sales folks do not believe in the product the customer will pick that up and the deal will most certainly be lost.
- History: Top sales people have a history of winning. They have won in school, sports, other jobs, etc…They want to in and they like to win. Great sales people are competitive. They enjoy the feeling of being the best and the respect that comes from their peers and management for being on top.
Provide Leadership and TrainingStep #2 – Provide leadership and training: In today’s fast changing environment what your customers really want is changing all the time. It is critical that leadership and management stay on top of those changes and provide their sales team with the proper training and tools to succeed in the new marketplace. Offering new products, services, etc., will help your sales team stay competitive with the rest of the market.
Step #3 – Have a strategy: Like everything else in business creating a top sales team requires a plan and a commitment. Spending the time up front creating a sales testing methodology that is consistent with your business model will save you both time and money down the road. Rather than making the wrong hire you will make the right hire up-front and not have to clean up the messes of having picked the wrong person to begin with. There is clearly an investment in time and money but the investment will pay off huge with the right hire.
Step #4 – Identify the “rotten apples”: Everyone is familiar with the saying “you are only as good as your weakest link”. Identifying the weaker performers and weeding them out of your sales team is critical to maintaining high morale and inspiration amongst your sales team. As a manager of leader you should be spending 80% of your time on your top producers and 20% of your time either managing up or managing out your bottom producers. Many managers lose sight of this and end up spending the majority of their time dealing with the bottom producers. This is both counter-productive and leads to a decline in morale as the top producers are not receiving the attention that they deserve.
Step #5 – Create goals: Understanding what each and every one of your sales peoples really wants is critical. All goals should be individually tailored to helping the sales person achieve his or her goals. Writing out a sales plan including clear goals is important. All goals should be metrix driven which allows both the manager and the sales person easily trackable data outlining where they are and what they need to do to achieve the goal.
Step #6 – Present awards: Creating bonus plans gives a sales person that extra incentive and something to focus on that will push them harder than normal to hit their goals. Trips, cash, etc., are always favorites amongst top sales people. The very top producers should have a special bonus that is separate from everyone else as they have achieved the highest levels of production. Creating a special club (i.e. the platinum circle, the Gold Club, etc.) creates a hierarchy which all producers will strive to be a part of that elite group.
Step #7 – Maintain accountability: Holding your sales team accountable is absolutely a necessity for measuring true results. It is useless to take the time to hire the right people, train them, provide them tools, and create individually tailored business and goal plans if the management team does not hold them accountable. Having weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly meetings with your staff is a necessity.
Step #8 – Make it fun: Make your work environment fun. Great sales people like to have a great time. They work hard to hit their goals and the fun balances out all the hard work. Holding weekly or monthly parties, closing the office for half a day on Friday, weekend sporting events and leagues are all a great way to have fun and build rapport. The founder of Southwest Airlines, which is the only airline company in the country that has never experienced an unprofitable year, has the title of CFO which stands for Chief Fun Officer. His job is to figure out ways to make the employees feel the best and have the most fun. The result is they have happier employees who in turn treat their customers in a great way and keep them coming back.
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