When it comes to building a strong sales force, it’s not all about luck. Smart sales organizations are taking critical steps by making sure their teams have the right people, the right programs, and the right management strategies.
Are you developing a strong sales force? We’ve outlined four critical steps to help guide you down the right path.
The Most Critical Steps to Developing a Strong Sales Force
Nurture Your Company Culture with the Right People.
Each bad hire can cost your business up to $50,000 according to Fastcompany. When considering new hires, looking for a cultural fit should be at the top of your list. We’re not saying experience doesn’t matter. We’re just saying if your new sales rep won’t fit in with the rest of the organization in a positive way, the cultural problems they will cause will most likely outweigh the revenue they bring in?
To help your sales team stay on track, create some guidelines for what you’re looking for.
What’s most important to your sales organization? The following questions may help you hone in on what qualities you’re looking for in new hires:
- Do you prefer seasoned reps with their own style, or sales newbies who can be molded to fit your needs?
- Does your sales organization focus more on inside or outside sales activities?
- Do you follow a sales methodology that requires certain characteristics for sales reps to succeed?
- Does your reps have an individualistic focus, or work collaboratively as a team?
- Does your sales team spend a lot of time together outside of work at events and other activities?
First identify the most important factors for success in your organization. Then, model what you’re looking for in a cultural fit to match.
Afterall, your business is nothing without the people making it run everyday. Taking extra care to maintain your culture will pay dividends as you scale.
2. Build a Strong Coaching Program.
Devoting resources to build a strong coaching program will reinforce your team in various ways. In fact, a recent HBS study claims that a majority of your workforce wants feedback on at a least monthly basis.
Having a successful sales coaching or training process will get your sales reps up to speed faster. Not to mention perform better in their roles. Even seasoned sales reps can benefit from regular training and coaching. Especially if you have unique methodology, geographically dispersed workforce or complex products and services.
In addition to faster onboarding and better performance, regular coaching support will show you’re investing in your team. It’s important that your reps know you see them as an asset.
Not sure how to build a great sales training program? Your sales methodology is a good place to start. You might also want to explore key sales characteristics worth enforcing.
We recently looked at a study of over 1,000 sales reps and discussed common characteristics among the best in our post, 6 Key Sales Behaviors to Reinforce with Training in 2016. A few of the top shared personality attributes included:
- Communication ability
- Achievement orientation
- Dominant personality
- Inward pessimism
- Sales management relationships
- Organization morale
Exploring similarities shared by top sales performers should help you start to define your training goals.
3. Promote Positive Team Collaboration.
Another way to strengthen the bond among your sales force is to focus on positive collaboration. While sales can be incredibly individualistic when it comes to deals, goals, and of course, commission, there are still opportunities for collaboration.
Help your reps help each other by providing opportunities to learn. The following list of sales force collaboration ideas should help you get started:
- Leverage sales training technology. Use technology to provide your sales reps the opportunity to learn from each other. Have your sales reps record their best sales pitch and critique them as a team. Keep top submissions available for viewing as a resource for new reps. Record role playing scenarios where reps are asked the “tough questions” and see how they respond. Then talk about the footage as group.
- Give your sales meetings a makeover. Use sales meetings to their fullest potential. Try incorporating some opportunities for sales reps to provide feedback for one another, or help problem solve where a team member is stuck. There are plenty of opportunities to learn and collaborate in a positive way, even in an extremely competitive environment.
- Review your wins and losses. Your sales team should be using actual customer stories as learning opportunities for the entire team. Have your reps present their significant wins and losses. This will give your sales team a chance to open their eyes to new strategies, and avoid potential pitfalls.
Encouraging positive sales force collaboration will help strengthen sales rep skill sets and the bond within your team.
4. Hold Sales Reps Accountable.
A lack of accountability can be detrimental to any sales force. There is nothing more frustrating than watching team members decide to play by their own rules, and get away with it.
Increasing the level of accountability within your sales organization will help keep everyone on track, and create a stronger sense of camaraderie amongst the team.
What are best ways to increase accountability within your sales force?
For starters, make sure you have metrics in place. Without metrics and goals to measure against and an easy way to track them, there is simply no way to hold your reps accountable.
Many companies track activities like number of outbound calls, call time, number of appointments, and number of opportunities, in addition to closed sales and deal revenue. Using a CRM, like Salesforce, makes it easy for your reps to track their activities, and for you to get automated status reports delivered to your inbox.
Don’t be the sales organization that lets team members coast for too long. This reinforces a culture of poor management and negativity. Seeing one or a few reps continue to be a part of the team when they aren’t contributing fairly will slowly turn great reps into bitter employees.
Applying these four tactics to your sales organization will help build a successful team, and a strong sales force.