You can bring in plenty of prospects at the top of your sales funnel using the most efficient marketing team in the world, but for many products it’s the sales team that will do the closing!
Let’s find out how to create and maintain a high-performing sales team.
1. Hire the right people
“If you can find good people, they can always change the product/service. Nearly every mistake I’ve made has been in picking the wrong people, not the wrong idea.”
- Arthur Rock
Sales jobs are tough and not everybody can handle them. It’s important that you hire the right people from the very beginning because recruitment costs are high and you don’t want to waste time and energy on the wrong people.
This is how you can get started:
- If you’re in charge of hiring, start by writing your own definition of an ideal sales representative
- Create a list of personality traits you look for in your next sales rep. For example - dominant, assertive, ambitious, confident, tenacious
- Analyse their previous sales track record - the numbers of meetings and proposals, conversion rates etc. Do they just talk a lot? Or can they actually close?
- Get your existing high-performers to to take a personality/attributes test and use that as a guide when hiring a newbie into the team
- Make role playing a part of the recruitment process. People buy stuff from people they like. Applicants can look great on paper and interview well, then you hire them only to find out they’re not that great at building relationships and selling. Consider having them role play a sales pitch scenario in the interview process to see what they’re really like in action.
You can always add more things to your acceptance criteria, but the bottom line is - screen them properly before you hire them.
Once you have hired the right people in your sales team, you should immediately focus on improving your sales team’s culture.
2. Map a process
Make a list of the actions that produced the best results for the sales department in the past to refine your company's sales process.
Here are some examples of the questions you want to ask yourself to map your company’s sales process:
- How many calls or emails did it take to reach the decision-maker?
- How many one-on-one calls with the decision-maker led to a deal?
- What type of conversations led to closing the deal?
If you use this methodology, you can measure the number of sales activities that led to a closed deal.
For example, if data says that it took your sales representatives an average of 10 phone calls to reach the decision-maker, and your goal is to reach 50 decision-makers a week; you already know that you have got to push your sales team to make at least 500 phone calls per week.
Make sure your process is documented and measurable so that the sales team have a clearer idea regarding the magnitude of effort it might take to reach the desired goal.
3. Have a foolproof script
A well-thought-out sales script will help you get a step ahead of your prospects and increase your close rate.
You must mention and handle the customer’s objection before they even bring it up? For example,
“ ...and by the way, John, you don’t even have to spend a dollar on service because we offer free service for the first year.”
The objection that the customer might have brought up here is, “I can buy the car, but I don’t want to spend too much on servicing.” Pre-planning and mentioning an objection in the script will make it manageable - as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.
It'll be really awkward if your sales rep forgets the unique selling point of the product/service that they’re selling. It does happen - especially with new salespeople. That’s why having a foolproof sales script is your best bet.
On another note, please be aware that a sales script is not written in stone and you should train your sales rep to modify it if the situation demands.
4. Provide ongoing training to your sales team
The highest paid sportspeople, actors and musicians have one thing in common - they all have coaches and they receive ongoing training to hone their craft. Despite having all the wealth and fame they want, they keep learning and practicing.
Whether it’s a newbie or your superstar closer, ongoing training will enable your sales team to stay on top of their game, day in and day out.
Here are some sales training ideas for a high-performing sales team:
- Role-playing: As the saying goes, “the more you sweat while training, the less you bleed on the battlefield”. Role-playing gives your sales team a taste of a real customer-facing situation. Also, you can list down their strengths and weaknesses during the role-playing sessions.
- Diversify the curricula: What are your sales reps going to do? Cold-calling or warm-calling? Maybe they’re going to meet a cold prospect face-to-face? The bottom line: direct the sales-training towards a particular sales situation.
- 24/7 training tools: Provide your team with 24/7 educational material. This includes everything from audiobooks to sales-training videos.
- Ask the closers to train the newbies: Do you remember your first cold-call or in-person sales meeting? It’s frightening, right? Make sure you use that charming closer you've got to assist the newbies until they’re a confident enough to handle a tough sales situation themselves.
In a nutshell
1. Hire the right people. Make a list of personality traits and the type of sales experience you’re looking for.
2. Map a sales process, so that your sales team know what to expect and how to execute things.
3. Have a foolproof script. List down all the objections and unique selling points to ensure that your sales rep close the deal.
4. Provide ongoing sales training to the newbies as well as the hardcore closers.
High-performing sales team can take your business to a whole new level. Investing in them is one of the smartest business decisions you will ever make.
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