Make sure you’ve read Part 1 before continuing on for more steps on leading a top-performing sales team!
At this stage in the process, you know the common mistakes sales leaders often make, the key component for leading a high-performing team, and the 6 qualities possessed by successful sales teams.
Now, let’s dive into what your sales team needs from you (but most likely won’t tell you), as well as other aspects they require from you as their leader:
1. “I Need Your Time”
As a sales leader, there’s no doubt that you’re incredibly busy. However, it’s imperative that you never come off as too busy to make time for your salespeople (plus, it makes you seem unapproachable).
The best way to show your sales reps that they can come to you is to lead by example! Set a time to meet one-on-one with each of your team members weekly, and demonstrate your approachableness by offering an open-door policy for whenever they need a few minutes to chat.
However, it’s okay to teach your team to stick to the time they ask for—no one dreads a conversation more than one with a person who asks for “five minutes,” and then ends up taking an hour of your time, every time. As salespeople, sometimes they’re only going to get five minutes with a customer anyway, so it’s important to show them the importance of being accountable for their time, as well.
2. “I Need Your Feedback”
When one of your salespeople comes to you and asks “how am I doing?”, it’s vital that you deliver honest, productive feedback. While you should offer areas where an individual sales rep can improve, it’s also crucial to point out what they’re doing well, as it can provide fulfillment and further motivation. Ultimately, you want to try and find a good balance, while coming off as genuine.
In instances where you need to provide feedback in a review-type setting, using the “qualities possessed by successful sales teams” criteria (outlined in Part 1) can be a good place to start. To hit on all of those traits with your own team, look at areas that each of your individual salespeople might need to work on. From there, conduct one-on-ones and ask them to rate themselves/talk about how you can help them do better.
3. “I Need Your Expertise”
You’ve done their job and you’ve been in their shoes, so it’s essential that you use your experiences to educate your salespeople about the industry, your company, potential objections they might face, selling in various settings, etc. By teaching your team what you know, your sales reps can then go and show stronger expertise to the client—making them more credible and more likely to make the sale.
4. “I Need You to Invest in Me”
The truth is you cannot expect your salespeople to invest in your company and your team if you’re not willing to do the same. Make sure to commit the time, training, coaching, and resources necessary to guarantee your team’s success. Also, while compensation is an obvious way to demonstrate your investment into your salespeople, opportunities for growth (e.g. owning a pitch/project, leading a group of junior sales reps, etc.) is another way to show your team that you care about seeing them do well, and moving up in your organization.
Other Investments Your Sales Team Needs From You
- Set expectations. In order for your sales team to know what it’s going to take to be successful, it’s necessary that you set clear expectations around what it takes. Whether it be around production (e.g. number of calls, meetings, target accounts, appointment count, etc.), team meetings/obligations, or what is required of your as their boss, creating expectations helps provide a cadence that prevents your salespeople from drifting, while putting pressure on yourself to hold up your end of the deal.
- Accountability. Give your sales team the opportunity to show that they can succeed without you being involved in every single aspect of their process. After adequate training, a good sales team should allow you to take an “eyes-on, hands-off” approach—meaning you have full visibility into their pipeline, status with clients, etc., but you’re not directly involved in the day-to-day. If your sales team isn’t operating at a level where they fully hold themselves accountable, you might have to be a bit more hands-on for a while to help steer things back on course.
While these tips provide you with a variety of ways to ensure a top-performing sales team, remember that every salesperson is unique and will have their own set of challenges and achievements. As such, while certain strategies might work well for one person on your sales team, something completely different could work for another.
Ultimately, every person on your team will have their own way of doing things, so give your sales reps the autonomy to get where they need to be, and let the results speak for themselves—they’re going to be your strongest indicator of success at the end of the day!
Source: Ideas presented by Linda Sasser (CEO, Impacting Leaders) at Staffing World 2018 via her “Manage and Lead a Top-Performing Sales Team” workshop.