7 tips to supercharge your sales team

Businesses survive on paying customers.  All functions within a business, directly or indirectly, serve customers.  Yet, it’s the Sales team that contributes most to customer experience. They’re ambassadors of your company.  And contribute significantly to how a customer perceives your business.   

So, how do you ensure that your sales team keeps hitting your targets?  This article offers 7 tips to build a high-performing sales team.

Tip #1: Incentivize performance

Don’t keep a salesperson solely on a fixed salary.  Their compensation needs to be aligned with how well they do their job – selling.  Align their goals with those of the organization.  The metric used needs to be chosen carefully.  If sales are slow, revenue could be the metric.  If margins are falling, profits could be the metric. (If both are bad, you need a consultant 😊).   

While it’s tempting, don’t stretch targets.  We’ve all heard “reach for the sky”.  Yet, setting targets no one can achieve is a perfect recipe for demotivation.  No one will take targets seriously.  That said, set challenging targets.  Only differentiate between challenging and unachievable. 

Tip #2: Don’t find excuses for success

If sales are healthy, its easy to simplify the effort that went into getting there.  You may attribute good sales to a great product, a robust economy or just plain luck. Yet, don’t gloss over the contribution of the salesperson.  The relationships built, the cold calls made, the staying in touch with reluctant clients.  All contribute to healthy sales.  So, if sales are rosy, don’t grudge the rosy bonus of the sales team.

A word of caution while setting targets. Don’t use individual performance as a benchmark.  For instance, if the top performer does 120% of target and another member does 90%, don’t increase both their targets for the next year by 20%.  That’s unfair to the high performer. 

Tip #3:  Define the sales process

Without a sales process, salespersons do what they feel is right.  Some customers get called twice a month, some twice a year.  A sales process defines the flow from a lead to a customer to post-sales support.  And the interactions at each stage.  Importantly, you’ll have a sales funnel which tells you the proportion of leads at each stage of the sales process.  That’s valuable information.

If you want to go a step further, develop a sales playbook.  This not only defines process, but looks at buyer personalities, tips and scripts on how to deal with each and proposal guidelines.  All the stuff required for a salesperson to close a deal. 

Tip #4: Give them technology

There’s lots of technology to make salespersons lives easier.  From as simple as a tablet computer, to remote meeting tools to AI, the list is endless. You can’t adopt all.  Yet, keep evaluating technologies which can help your team.  Don’t focus solely on capital cost.  Look at each tool as an investment for greater future sales. 

For starters, invest in a good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool.  There are numerous cloud-based tools available.  CRM software helps your sales team track their leads, and helps you track their activities.  Understand which activities help lead conversion. 

Tip #5: Don’t scare them

The best salespeople are confident.  Customers like buying from confident salespersons.  So, don’t keep your salespersons in a state of fear.  If they’re constantly scared of getting a mouthful, they don’t perform. Chances are that the fear will show to a customer. 

If the salesperson isn’t performing, see if there are valid reasons.  If there aren’t any, then it’s better to move them to another department or part ways.  Don’t keep a person who’s perpetually scared of consequences in a customer facing role. 

Tip #6: Talk to them

Keep talking to your sales team.  It’ll give you a wealth of client insights which are otherwise not captured.  For instance, indicators on the morale of the team, insights on new products, competitor intelligence and information about new technologies. 

Tip #7: Recruit the leader well

This is the most important role in your sales team.  So, choose well.  Three things to look for?  One- experience relevant to your business.  If you are a growing company with few set processes, don’t go for a person who’s headed sales in large organizations.  Sure, they have experience.  But they don’t have the experience of scaling sales teams and introducing systems and processes into a medium sized organization.  Two- Value leadership skills more than hardcore sales skills.  Research shows that the best sales performers are often not the best sales leaders.  Three- spend time onboarding a new sales leader.  Sales interacts with every other function of your business. They need to be fully integrated into the organization and culture. 

Closing thoughts

It’s often said that good salespersons are born. They have a certain personality type.  Even if we assume that’s true, good sales teams are not born- they are built.  And it’s not rocket science.  A few steps in the right direction can help you supercharge your sales team. 

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