How To Run A Successful Sales Team

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

sales heroes
 
There’s a lot to running a successful sales team.

You can think of managing sales performance, coaching, leadership, motivation, and a whole host of other things.

For the purposes of this blog, I’d like to focus on 3 areas.

  • Motivation
  • Communication
  • Sales Meetings

Sales Team Motivation

Motivating a sales team is mission critical to your success.

However, it is very easy for a sales manager to THINK that they are sufficiently motivating the team simply because no one offers any objection or criticism.

Since the sales team is not complaining, I must be doing everything right?

Wrong!

Now in answering this question, let me say that it may not be what you or anyone else expects to hear.

When I talk about motivating a sales team, I am NOT talking about some rah-rah pep rallies or how to say the right thing or how to lead a sales meeting that fires people up.

No. I am talking about real, tangible, and structural processes and things that you need to do on the ground that help salespeople aspire to achieve more and become the best that they can be.

Here are three main motivators for your Sales Team.

Concentrate on these, and the rest will take care of themselves!

Let Your Sales Team Know That Your Company Cares

Contrary to popular belief, the primary motivating factor for salespeople is NOT the money.

While it is true that most salespeople originally join the organisation they work with primarily due to the lure of money, the fact is they STAY because they feel the company cares about them—personally.

Demonstrate to your sales team that you deeply care for them, their personal welfare, their success.

Let them know that you put their success BEFORE yours and the companies, and they will stay motivated.

Frankly, that is how every Sales Manager should feel anyway.

Think about it: If they fail, you and the company fail.

Their success does come before YOURS!

When Salespeople feel like the company puts the bottom line before them; when they feel that the firm only cares about the money and that they are expendable—no amount of money or anything else will motivate them to reach high levels of success.

Number one—let them know you care.

How do you do that? It’s simple — YOU CARE!

Demonstrate to the sales team that they are the most important people in the firm.

Don’t just talk about it – live it!

Second, Treat Your Sales Team Like The Executives They Are

Treat your sales team like they are true executives; directors, CEOs and give them the support they need to perform as such.

In conjunction with the first rule above, understand that if that salesperson does not make a sale, you, the director, the CEO, the founder, the factory, the secretaries, the accounting staff, the development staff—ALL of you are out of a job!!

The salesperson is the real chief executive—treat them as such.

Create a sales support system that allows salespeople to do what they get paid to do: SELL.

To save money, too many organisations pile a bunch of crap and non-sales activity tasks on the sales team.

The thought is that you save £25,000 by NOT hiring an administrative person to handle the paperwork.

Why not just let the salespeople do it?

Well, you might save the £25,000 salary of the admin person, but you LOSE a million pounds in the process.

Give your sales team sales support to handle those tasks that are not of a selling nature.

Third, PAY THEM FIRST!

In most firms the sales structure is such that the salesperson gets paid LAST.

In other words, the salesperson goes out and makes the sales and then a ton of things happen; sometimes it is financing or delivery options or collections or bill payments, or any number of things, but think about this: in the meantime, everyone else gets paid ANYWAY!!

Everyone gets paid before the salesperson.

Let them know the company cares, treat them like executives and pay them first.

After you do those things, then and only then will all the motivational speeches make sense!

Sales Team Communication

Communication, communication, and more communication.

No pun intended here, but for some sales managers, communication is just talk.

Effective and proactive communication is as integral to your sales team as professional training, solid sales support, and even good salespeople.

In fact, effective communication from the sales manager is the glue that holds all the pieces of the team’s puzzle together.

Here are three powerful tips to use to help you communicate more effectively and proactively with your sales crew.

Input

Like anything, you can only get out of it what you put into it.

The same goes for your sales crew.

You must set up a system for salespeople to give you, their input.

They must be able to feel confident that they can voice their honest opinions to you without fear of reprisal.

Do not assume that since you have a proverbial “open-door” policy, that salespeople know that they can share their feelings with you.

You may not be as much a part of the “inner circle” as you think you are.

Set up a system so that you know for sure that salespeople can freely share their fears, grievances, wishes, hopes, and dreams.

Listen

If you are fortunate enough to have those conversations where salespeople can sit down and tell you the “truth” then you also must listen, and I mean actively listen.

Be careful not to formulate an opinion or solution in your mind before you have completely heard the salesperson point of view.

Also, maintain deep and steady eye contact and show genuine concern and empathy.

I know that often some of the “major news flashes” that come from a sales team member to you may be something as old as the hills that you have heard of a thousand times and been aware of for years.

So, how do you listen intently and show interest, empathy and even excitement for something that is clearly old news?

Active Listening Tip

Try this, as the person is talking, take an idea or topic they have just spoken, and interject.

Stop the speaker and ask if you understand exactly what he or she is saying.

To do this, rephrase the statement in different words and recite it back to the salesperson.

This will force you to listen carefully and to reformulate the topic you must understand it.

Simultaneously, it demonstrates to the speaker that you are indeed in tune and following closely.

This is an old sales technique that you should use in any conversation.

Just rephrase the question or topic. Whatever you do, listen actively.

Act

As I mentioned, some communication is just talk.

You must follow up what you say and act on anything and everything you say—immediately.

To ask for input, listen to the sales team and do nothing about what they told you, is worse than if you never heard them in the first place.

Such inaction will cause team members to shut down and not trust you and create a non-productive, negative atmosphere.

Salespeople will feel as if you are working against them, hampering their efforts to make money.

In sales management, action delayed equals income denied.

If you do not intend to do anything about a situation, then let them know.

If you DO intend to take some action—THEN DO IT!

Talk WITH your sales team, not AT them

Communication is indeed a two-way street, and talk just by itself, really is cheap.

We cover a lot of communication skills tips on our Sales Manager Training. Check out the course which is certified by the Institute of Sales Management.

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Sales Team Meetings

How regular do you think sales meetings should be organised?

Should they be individual or collective?

People tend to have two chains of thought on this, and I am glad to see this question as it tells me you have not automatically bought into either of those standard chains of thought.

While some managers believe that sales meetings can be a huge waste of time and therefore usually have too few; others believe that sales meetings are important but tend to have too many.

Which is right?

There are a lot of factors that go into figuring out the best sales meeting set up for each company and situation, so I will give you the foundation and you can design a plan that best fits your organisation.

You want to base your sales meeting schedule and structure on three things:

1. Your sales model; your overall selling cycle
2. The geographical and logistical parameters of your sales operation
3. The overall sales experience of your sales force

Your sales model; selling cycle:

Let’s say that your sales model is such that an above average salesperson should do five presentations or closing attempts every day (five days a week) and should close one sale every day or five sales a week.

In this case, I would meet with the entire sales crew every day.

Have short sales meetings to start their day, paying accolades to those who sold the previous day, correcting mistakes and motivating them to go out in the field again.

You can then hold a longer, more strategic company or regional sales meetings once a month.

However, if your sales cycle is such that salespeople complete only one sales presentation per week and close one sale a month, then you might meet once a week, with a more detailed sales meeting celebrating closed sales once a month and a quarterly regional meeting.

You see what I mean?

Figure out how often salespeople should close sales and meet around those times.

The geographical and logistical parameters of your sales operation:

Now with what I said above, we must realise how geography and other logistics play into the situation.

Perhaps your model is to close one sale every day, but your salespeople are spread around the country or even worldwide and you cannot possibly see them every day or at a specific time each day?

In a case like this, I would have each salesperson call me at the end of each day for a brief personal one-on-one sales meeting via telephone or video conference and hold the weekly sales meeting.

The overall sales experience of your sales force:

However, in addition to the above, you must also consider the experience level of the sales team.

If they are very experienced people who have been with the firm several years and work well independently, perhaps you scale down the weekly or personal meetings.

On the other hand, with a younger less experienced sales team you might want to meet every day, plus have a big weekly meeting and sales training session, PLUS meet with salespeople individually, going out with them in the field, coaching and training them constantly.

So first, meet around the time that sales should close, your sales cycle.

Then take into consideration the logistics and finally adjust depending on experience level. I hope this helps!

Many look for sales meeting tips and how to run the meetings. My first question is do you need them and often do you need them!

Happy sales management.

Sean

Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

Sales DNA

Originally published: 2 November, 2021



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