I was speaking with a sales candidate recently and asked her what she is looking for in her new role and company. I expected her to say things like “Having the opportunity to make more money” or “Being able to meet customers face-to-face” and/or the ability to move up through the ranks in the organization. However, she was most drawn to becoming a great sales leader and having the opportunity to develop both her sales and business skills.
Her response caused me to reflect on what I could do better as a manager to create a high performing sales team to set them up for success as future leaders.
After many conversations and reflections, here are some suggestions on how to develop a high performing sales team.
1. Talent development:
As a sales leader, your team and their growth should be your number one priority, and this should be reflected in the amount of time and energy you invest in them. It’s crucial to know your team, what approach is the most effective in working with them, and understanding their strengths and weaknesses. This way, you can create some goals with an objective plan in helping them become better.
For example, after chatting with one of the members on my team, we came to the understanding that an area of improvement for him is becoming a more articulate speaker. As a way in helping this individual, we created a weekly toastmasters meeting at our company. This way, both he and other individuals can make continuous progress in developing their communication skills. The point of the story is that the more you serve and work for your team, the more they will respect and do the same for you.
2. Coaching and continuous feedback:
It’s important to create mutually agreed upon goals with your team and provide open and honest constructive feedback around their progress on a regular basis. This allows for a more collaborative approach on troubleshooting specific challenges so that you and your team operate more effectively.
3. Lead by example:
I have seen many managers hide behind their spreadsheets and look at the team’s pipeline/forecast. If it doesn’t look good, then bring the team together and say something along the lines of: “pipe’s looking light, let’s pick it up.” What baffles me is these same individuals don’t jump on their team’s calls, meetings, and demos.
The reason I have come to appreciate leaders like Don Erwin, Brendon Cassidy, and Affan Ali is their ability to lead by example. They consistently set the standard of what great looks like by jumping in the trenches and helping each of their team close business. It’s easy to ask for an update or encourage the team to work hard, but real leadership is being able to walk the talk and consistently lead by example.
4. Give them sincere appreciation, yet hold them accountable:
Every team member has something valuable to contribute. Make sure you’re consistently challenging them, helping them think differently, and if something is working for one of the team members, it likely will be valuable for others so share their successes. If someone is struggling, help them as a team to overcome their challenges. If someone is excelling, make it a point to give them credit, and reward them. If someone is not pulling their weight, hold them accountable, and come up with a new plan of action.
5. Celebrate the small wins and have fun:
We spend the majority of time with our co-workers so it is important to at the very least have fun together. Most people drag their butts to work because they HAVE to, but true leaders, who create a fun office environment, have team members that are actually engaged and WANT to show up to work every day. Celebrate every win to ultimately motivate your team.
These concepts are designed to provide some ideas to consider when building a world-class sales team. These strategies, and many more, have been small but profound tweaks to our team and has helped us have a strong Q1. The best leaders collaborate and share what’s worked, so tell us what’s been effective for you?