7 ways to create a successful sales team

Treat your salesperson like you would treat your most important customer—because he is!

Colleen Stanley, CEO of SalesLeadership, Inc.

As a sales manager, you’re ultimately responsible for hitting your company’s monthly or quarterly sales goals, but you can’t do it yourself.

Even if you personally worked the phones all day long, you’d still need a team of sales professionals and a streamlined system in place to grow your business and meet your quotas.

Building a successful sales team means providing your team with all the resources they need to reach their goals—from motivation and professional development to up-to-date equipment, software tools, and rewards—and these investments are going to help your sales team fill their pipelines and make more sales.

Ack, that sounds like so much! How can I do that? What steps do I need to take?

Don’t worry. We’re here to help.

1. Know Who You Need to Hire, And Why

Imagine this scenario: You recently put out a job listing for a new salesperson. Out of the resumes you received, one comes from an applicant who has been in sales for 25 years and one applicant is fresh out of college and hasn’t held a sales position yet. It’s going to be up to you decide not only who you hire, but why you hire them.

Before you can truly understand what kind of hire you need, you will need to take a look at your current sales environment. Who do you already have on staff? What skills might some of them be lacking which could be met with a new hire?

Need someone with experience who can hit the ground running? Better hire the veteran with all that experience. Need someone who may not have any preconceived notions of what sales is supposed to be, but is overly enthusiastic and willing to try out all sorts of tactics? Make an appointment with the newbie out of college. Don’t just make hiring decisions based on “I need a body in that seat.” Make the decision based on who you need, for what position, and what role they can play on your team.

The goal is to build a successful team, not just fill seats with any warm body.

For a deeper dive into building a sales team: How to Hire a Sales Team: The Complete Guide

2. Always Be Learning

Remember when selling meant literally combing through the Yellow Pages and calling all the phone numbers in hopes of reaching a live person willing to buy your product? No? Well, that’s how it was done! Now imagine if you had your team working such an outdated technique. They wouldn’t be all that successful!

Being successful in sales today requires constant preparation, practice, classes, and education. New techniques are constantly being worked on and optimized; think ringless voicemails, location-based text marketing, and advanced CRM software that automates data entry and time-wasting tasks. (Ahem, Nutshell.) You get the picture.

Your sales team will need consistent help staying up-to-date with industry norms, best practices, new software, and better sales techniques. Help them out by offering education like online classes, books on selling, attendance of sales seminars, and other learning opportunities to ensure their (and your) success.

Related: 14 Things Successful Sales Reps Do Every Week

3. Set Clear, Easy to Understand Goals and Priorities

You wouldn’t set out on a long drive with the family without any idea of how to get where you’re doing, would you? The same should be true for your sales team’s daily work life. Work with your team to set realistic goals for the group and for individuals.

No one understands your business, your clients and customers, or your market better than you do, so it will be up to you to set whatever goals you deem necessary for the team to meet. Make them too unrealistic and motivation could fall. Make them too easy, and your team will coast at the end of the month instead of hustling.

Goals can be set on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis, always keeping in mind what you would like your year-over-year progress to look like. Say last year you had 10% more sales than the previous year; would it be ok to set a 15% revenue increase goal for this year? (Btw, Nutshell’s reporting software can help you set sales targets that will compel your team to give their best efforts without driving them insane.)

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Whether these goals are big, scary, “We’re never going to get there but we might as well try” type goals, or reasonable “Let’s try to set five more appointments this month” goals, teams thrive when they have clear, easy to understand goals to shoot for.

One thing we recommend is being open to accepting feedback and ideas from your sales teams on the goals you establish. You don’t want a culture of “do what I say” to potentially demotivate your staff or make them quit. Sometimes, they might have better ideas than you do—or at least perspectives you haven’t considered. Communicate, listen, ask questions, accept feedback. It will help you, we promise.

4. Implement Time-Saving and Efficiency Tools

As mentioned earlier, salespeople used to have to dig through the Yellow Pages for contact information. Those days are long gone, and your team should be set up to take advantage of all the amazing software available to them.

For example, a modern sales automation platform might have features like personal email sequences, which sends an automated series of templated emails to your contacts, or click-to-call, which is exactly what it sounds like: you click a number in your database and the call is automatically made and recorded. Once the call is over, the call is logged for future reference.

Thanks to always-improving technology, today’s salespeople have access to automation tools, collaboration software, remote access to sales materials, and cloud-based CRMs to make their jobs quicker and easier than in the past. Be sure to give them the right tools for the job!

5. Provide Incentives

Sales can be a difficult gig, and if you had become a sales manager after being a salesperson, you know this deep down. Some days are just plain bad, filled with rejection and hangups. So why do people keep showing up for work? Why would you keep showing up for work?

Humans need the motivation to continue pushing uphill, even when faced with constant challenges. You can give your sales team that motivation by offering incentives for meeting and beating goals, going above and beyond, and finding new lead sources for their pipelines. Whether those incentives include money, days off, extra vacation time, flex time, or some other form of award, keeping your team motivated will pay off and help you meet your benchmarks.

Related: How to Use Slack to Motivate Your Sales Team

6. Measure Progress & Success

How can you know how you are doing sales-wise if you aren’t tracking progress and results? All the calls in the world won’t result in more sales if you don’t continuously measure and optimize your processes. But here’s the kicker: You need to be measuring real numbers and not just “how many calls were made today?”

Some things to keep in mind:

Calls do not create revenue. If you called 1,000 people and made one sale, or called 100 people and made five, which is the better measure of how your salespeople are performing?

All leads are not created equal. Be sure you are providing your team with a healthy sales funnel full of actual potential clients, not just a random list of people. Spend money on targeted advertising, buy lead lists of contacts in your target industry, or generate leads organically through an inbound marketing campaign.

Existing clients can be easier sales. What happens after a sale? Does the client disappear, never to be heard from again? Or did your salesperson have a good relationship with them, which kept them coming back again each time they needed something? Keeping track of your client retention rate is a valuable way to measure how well your sales team is performing.

Related: 6 Sales Metrics That Managers Should Watch on a Daily Basis

7. Establish a Healthy Company Culture

No one—OK, almost no one—wants to work in a windowless room, under yellow lighting, at desks they have to share with five other people, for a miserable boss, and for less money than they could earn elsewhere. So what can you do to create a company culture that encourages your team members to show up and do their best?

You can provide them with some key things, including:

  • Remote work opportunities.
  • Regular salary increases.
  • Professional development classes.
  • A culture of open communication between staff levels.
  • Feedback and encouragement
  • Recognition of their achievements.
  • Company-wide events, competitions, and games.

Good company culture starts at the top, and, well, that’s you. You are the one looking to create a successful sales team, and you’re going to be the one responsible for supporting them. A poor company culture could result in higher-than-average staff turnover, which hurt your sales and company dynamic if you have to continually hire and onboard new employees.

In Conclusion…

Creating a successful sales team will take some work, but in the end, the time and effort you invest will pay off. You will be able to hire the best people, meet and exceed your sales goals, and have a happy, healthy workforce if you implement some of these suggestions for your sales team.

Trust us, we know—we live and breathe sales every day, and if you need some assistance, Nutshell is designed to help you get there.

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