Creating High-Powered Sales Teams

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Becoming a great salesperson takes dedication, training, and experience.  Creating a high-powered sales team is an entirely different project.  Great sales teams can make a company very successful.  A weak sales team can bring a good company down.

Creating an environment that attracts and keeps great salespeople is challenging, but critical if you want to build a better business.  A really good sales team is more then the sum of its parts.  A high-powered sales team brings out the best in everyone on the team.  Sales professionals that did well before joining a great sales team will produce at an even higher rate when surrounded by the right people.

There are several components of a great sales team.  Below I want to discuss four of them.

Hiring

Great sales teams are filled with the right people.  Look at your existing team.  Who is doing a great job?  What characteristics do those people possess?  Can you use them as a guide to create a model that you can hire against?

Many times successful salespeople come from customers.  The people that buy from you make very good sales professionals.  They have experience buying and know what they want and need.

You should use an independent evaluation tool with potential candidates.  There are many good tools that will uncover the traits, strengths, and weaknesses of the people you interview.  A sales specific tool will provide insights as to the candidate’s aptitude towards sales.

If you interview three people, don’t just hire the best of the three.  Always have a list for criteria of the sales position you are looking to fill and then hire against that list.  If no one you interview meets your criteria or scores well on the written evaluation tool that you use, then bring in others to interview.

You invest too much time in training and building relationships with your clients to take a chance on a salesperson that doesn’t have a good opportunity to succeed.  Put your time in up front and hire right.

Training

Many companies have limited sales training.  To build a high-powered sales team you must train your people well.  Sales professionals need product knowledge, industry knowledge, sales skills, and more!  They need to know how their clients use their products and services.  They need to be very savvy about their competition.  They need to be educated as to what happens after the sale and how your company interfaces with the client throughout the entire life of the relationship.

Learning all of this knowledge requires time.  There is no quick fix.  The best companies with the best sales teams provide great training when hiring someone new, and they offer ongoing continuous education to keep their sales team at the peak of performance.

Design a training program for new hires.  You may decide to outsource some of the sales training if you cannot handle it all internally.  Then, think about how often you will need to provide ongoing sales, product, and industry training.  Don’t promise your team something and not deliver.  Be sure and follow up with a great sales training program.

Motivating

Even the great sales professionals need to be motivated.  Sure, you want to hire self-starters and people that want to achieve, but additional motivation that you provide will separate your high-powered sales force from a good or average one.

The key to motivation is to understand that everyone is motivated by different factors.  What may work for Sue might not work for John.  Be sure and try a variety of programs including, bonuses, awards, trips, recognition, and even special parking spots!

The more creative you get the more fun your team will have, and the better they will respond to your promotions.  Many sales managers forget to ask their sales professionals what they would like.  By asking your sales professionals what is of interest to them, you won’t look silly by offering a meaningless award.

The dynamics of your organization and the amounts of money that any one sales professional is responsible for will determine the magnitude of the awards you can offer.  I know of one company that provides a BMW for it’s top producer each month!

The really great sales professionals are driven to increase sales so that they can increase their own earnings, but they also like the status and recognition of winning award programs.  Mix large and small incentives into their monthly activities and watch the team’s efforts explode!

Compensating

The bottom line for most sales professionals is the bottom line.  Most sales people are in the sales field because they like people.  In sales being a people person is critical.  But, I also notice that most sales professionals have figured out that sales is a great way to make a wonderful living.

How you compensate, as well as how much compensation a sales person earns, is very important in building powerful sales teams.  Every industry is different, but you will probably want to consider fixed salary, commission, monthly bonuses, and yearly bonuses when designing your compensation program.

Most people know that they can earn more if they are on straight commission, but it is hard to find individuals willing to take the risk.  Look at what is being offered in your industry, and then think about how you can tweak the system to provide a great incentive for your sales professional and at the same time promote them to produce at a higher level and grow your bottom line.

Be sure to tie compensation into factors that they can control and should be responsible for.  Many times sales professionals are given the opportunity to adjust the price a client pays.  As the price goes down, so does the margin.  Their commission may decline as well.  It only makes sense.

Spend time building a high-powered sales organization and the return to your company will be many fold.  Sales drive most any business.  Get your sales force in high gear, and you’re on the road to Building a Better Biz!

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