How to Lead a Top-Performing Sales Team, Part 1

Leading groupWhether it be a lack of motivation, the desire to have leads directly handed to them, or excuses as to why they’re not meeting goals, there is no shortage of potential frustrations sales leaders experience when it comes to their sales reps. While it’s easy to identify your own main grievances with your sales team, the main issue lies in directing them and your business towards success.

But how do you go about achieving this goal? Before we dive into the key component for managing and leading a top-performing sales team, it’s important to look at three common mistakes sales leaders tend to make:

  1. They’re too anxious to get out of the day-to-day sales role. While you hire a team of sales reps to be the ones who bring in leads and close deals for your business, know that you’re never going to be able to take your eye completely off things. It’s important to hire people who work with you, not for you.
  2. Ask how many sales calls someone makes a day. Aside from coming across as a micromanager, this perspective doesn’t serve to motivate salespeople, nor does it get to the root of how those calls went.
  3. Manage instead of lead. There’s a bigger focus on using data to hit goals and follow pre-established standards. Use data to help your sales reps and manage the current system.

Ultimately, in order to perform optimally, a good sales team requires one main driver: solid leadership! However, it’s not enough to just be a leader for your team—you have to teach your reps about leadership, and have it influence every aspect of your sales process!
 

Qualities Possessed by Successful Sales Teams

When strong leadership sits at the top, and is also instilled in your salespeople, that is when your team is likely to find success—but what exactly does that look like? The following traits are ones often possessed by top-performing sales teams:

  1. Disciplined in their actions. Accountability is a major component of any successful sales team. As a leader, focus on giving your sales team something they want to be disciplined for. By helping your salespeople find and understand their individual motivators, discipline will easily follow suit.
  2. Goal-driven. Similar to identifying key motivators, assisting your sales team in figuring out what they want to accomplish (whether to be more money, opportunity, recognition, etc.) can help you better lead them to be triumphant in their efforts. Beyond the individual though, it’s important that all sales reps be aligned to the same team goal(s). This helps to create unity, build accountability, and make sure everyone is on the same page.
  3. Influential. A good salesperson does more than simply try to make the sale—they have a desire to want to be connected to the client, and serve as an advisor. While your clients might be working under a business-owner mindset, they are also people looking to develop meaningful partnerships, and are likely open to being led by those they trust.
  4. A desire to learn & step out. Successful sales teams do not simply rest on their past victories, or current knowledge of the industry or a client; they look for ways to continuously learn so they can remain on top of their craft. Help hold your salespeople accountable by asking them what exactly they’re learning to better help their clients.
  5. Prepared but adaptable. It’s important to strike a good balance between understanding what’s going on in the market and listening to what the client is saying. While it’s important to go into a client conversation well-versed on what your company has to offer, over-preparing can derail conversations and make it seem like you’re pushing the client to buy, instead of actually listening to their needs.
  6. Confident in their own skin. Confidence is key when it comes to sales. If a salesperson is self-assured and believes in who they are and what they do, they will come off as more genuine and it will reflect in their sales numbers. Encourage your reps to get out of their own heads and focus on helping the customer.

Interested in learning more tips on how to lead a top-performing sales team, including what your sales people need from you (but likely won’t tell you)? Check out Part 2 here!

 

Source: Ideas presented by Linda Sasser (CEO, Impacting Leaders) at Staffing World 2018 via her “Manage and Lead a Top-Performing Sales Team” workshop.