Imagine you are Sales Manager. Knowing what you know now, who should you recruit?
Should you recruit novices and train them in your own methodology, or buy in experts for a quick win? The answer probably depends on the situation your company is in, and how urgently you need a strong sales team. Maybe you “grow your own “sales team once your company is well established and you have good role models and management to offer new recruits.
Put simply, you need to recruit the very best team you can, Poor sales is the death knell of any company. It is more expensive to hire the best in the short term, but the results should vindicate your choices and pay off quickly. It takes months to get a good salesperson up and running at full speed in a new company, and sales will suffer while they settle in.
And a good salesperson will energize and motivate the team. Conversely a poor one will drag everyone down. Morale will be low, expectations will fall.
So, it is important that you recruit the very best you can afford. They will pay for themselves in the longer run. This is not the time to economise.
How should you organize and manage your team?
It is up to you to set the pace and the expectations. Your Team must know what is expected of them. They will thrive when everything runs smoothly, reporting is easy, processes are in place, management controls are effective. It is your task to create the environment that allows the team to operate at their most effective, unfettered by rules and regulations, but with clear instructions. Your job is to create the Vision, and signpost it to them.
You must create a standard Sales process which identifies how to approach, qualify, work with and close the client. But the process should not be so regimented as to inhibit the sales team. There should be a little flexibility in the model. Use all the tools at your disposal to track and report performance effectively.
But beware of being too prescriptive about the number of calls they have to make, the number of clients they have to visit. They are on the front line, they should know what needs to be done. Otherwise they are not the right people for the job.
If they find that going to networking events or using social media is more effective than cold calling, then why should you worry. As long as the results are what you need, let them have some leeway, and own the problem themselves. But make it clear that this strategy is dependent on the results being there!!
Coaching and monitoring
Take time out of your busy schedule to offer feedback to the team. Time spent coaching and monitoring the team will deliver better results. You need to be able to spot the beginning of a downward trend and correct and eliminate the error before it gets embedded. You should also spot upward trends, and translate the behaviour into Best Practice, spread across the team
The highly competitive approach of a successful sales person makes them difficult to lead. Your task is to motivate and reward them to maximize performance. Without causing jealousy or bad feeling, use the success of your best performers to motivate the rest of the team, producing a high performing team.
Try to protect your teams’ time, to allow them to sell. Their time management skills are important to their performance, but so are yours. Don’t tie them up in meetings or paperwork that reduces their selling time. Don’t be a time robber. Keep meetings short and to the point, communication clear and concise.
It is your job to coach them to success, to help them achieve the seemingly impossible, so when they beat the odds, do the impossible, don’t forget to celebrate immediately and publicly. Celebration of success is the lifeblood of every competitive salesperson.