How To Build High-Performance Sales Teams – The Ultimate Guide

How To Build High-Performance Sales Teams – The Ultimate Guide

High-performance sales teams don’t happen by chance. They’re developed over time by dedicated sales managers. Those who understand that if you want to see results, you must take your team to the next level. That’s because they take the focus off learning new sales techniques. Instead, they hone in on accountability, goal-setting, and time-management techniques. Ready to build a high-performance sales team? Keep reading and put in place the following 5 strategies.

In this article, we will explore the following:

1. Become a sales coach

Your sales team looks to you for guidance, direction, and coaching. But, there is one thing you must do to become a great sales coach for your team. Become a visionary. What is your vision for the department or organization? What are your objectives for the sales volume, revenue, profitability, return on investment, market penetration, and market share? Be specific—set deadlines.

Share your vision with your sales team. Then encourage them to contribute to taking ownership of the organizational vision. As a great sales coach, you focus on the “what” (vision and objectives) and leave the “how” (tactics and implementation) to your sales team.

Great sales coaches support their teams with the resources necessary to realize the vision. Coaching your sales team also includes rewarding teams for achieving the objectives and helping them devise solutions to their challenges. As a result, you should measure sales team performance against defined (and understood) objectives.

2. Improve compensation plans

Great sales coaches provide teams with the resources necessary to realize the organizational vision and objectives. This includes financial resources. So consider, is it possible your sales team’s compensation plans could be uninspiring without you knowing it?

Most organizations consider a fixed salary, commission, or combination plan when establishing compensation plans. That seems easy enough (or does it?) But how do you determine what compensation plan would inspire your sales team?

Sometimes it helps to differentiate between existing accounts and new accounts. It’s essential to compare the value of each sale dollar produced from existing accounts to new accounts. You could also look at the effort needed to maintain existing customers versus acquiring new customers.

Do your existing accounts take care of themselves, or are they high maintenance? If your sales team must continue expanding its effort to maintain accounts. Then their compensation must be commensurate with their effort.

3. Recruit and retain the best talent

Great sales coaches must also become great human resource managers to recruit and retain the best talent. In recruitment, it’s important to create a list of the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) candidates must have as well as those that are desirable.

Something else to keep in mind when recruiting the best talent is the difference between aptitude and attitude.

Aptitude refers to competency components. Which, while essential, can be improved through proper orientation and training. An attitude refers to a person’s beliefs, values, and work ethic. All things which are unlikely to change. When in doubt, hire attitude and train aptitude.

Also read: 14 Common Sales Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Infographic listing several points on when salespeople would stay in their current roles

4. Assess productivity and profitability

The purpose of measuring performance is to clarify the profitability of the sales volume brought in by each sales team member. With that seemingly attainable outcome in mind, why do companies struggle with assessing sales force productivity? They sometimes find measuring sales performance challenging because they have failed to incorporate quantitative and qualitative criteria. Quantitative criteria include sales volume in dollars or units, growth over previous years, new accounts, and profitability.

Understanding productivity and profitability criteria

Qualitative criteria include:

  • Attitude
  • Product knowledge
  • Communication skills
  • Personal appearance
  • Customer feedback
  • Selling skills
  • Personal initiative

When assessing your sales team’s productivity and profitability, remember to differentiate between aptitude and attitude. When in doubt, train a poor aptitude and fire a bad attitude.

You must assess the team according to clearly defined objectives. As a great sales coach, it is your responsibility to communicate your objectives about:

  • Sales volume
  • Sales revenue
  • Profitability
  • Return on investment
  • Market penetration
  • Market share

Be specific—set deadlines. Then, coach your sales team by rewarding them for achieving the objectives. This approach will help them to continue to develop solutions and improve the results of their activities.

5. Automate your sales force

Salesforce automation (SFA) is part of a company’s customer relationship management (CRM) system. It uses software to help automate some of the sales’ business tasks. These tasks can include:

  • Order processing
  • Contact management
  • Information sharing
  • Inventory monitoring and control
  • Order tracking
  • Customer management
  • Sales lead tracking
  • Sales forecast analysis
  • Employee performance evaluation

Tracking your salesforce

One of the benefits of SFA is being able to automate the productivity tracking of your sales force. Things such as:

  • Revenue per salesperson
  • Number of calls per day
  • Time spent per contact
  • Revenue per call
  • Cost per call
  • The ratio of orders to calls
  • Number of new customers per period
  • Number of lost customers per period
  • The number of customer complaints

How to leverage automation

The key to making SFA work is to encourage its use. Not within your sales department but among all departments that deal with customers. Show how these systems help improve interdepartmental communication. More so, how it benefits the customer by delivering the best quality service.

People often use the terms SFA and CRM synonymously, but there’s an important distinction. CRM does not mean you can always automate sales tasks. So be sure to do your research. Try an online demo or use a trial version before deciding on the best tool for you to automate your sales force.

Also read:

7 Characteristics of High-Performance Sales Teams

Aspiring to build a high-performance sales team that exceeds results? Or, if you want to see if your team checks all the boxes- you’re in the right place. Read on below to discover the 7 characteristics all high-performance sales teams have:

1. Lifelong learners

High-performance sales professionals thrive on discovering new knowledge. Then using it to transform their customers’ lives for the better. Such individuals understand that being a lifelong learner is what will separate you from everybody else. This attitude and mindset make them a substantial asset to the company. What’s more, they increase sales and the mutual morale of the team – a challenge many sales managers struggle to maintain.

2. Strong sense of purpose

High-performance sales teams work in synergy. They agree on a shared vision. Then delegate roles and responsibilities to achieve it as soon as possible. Studies show that people are more willing to work harder and longer when they share a common goal with their coworkers. This is why as its leader, you must share the mission alongside how your team plays an integral part in reaching it.

3. Trust & mutual respect

When a team is supportive of each other and works towards team goals and not individual goals, everybody’s job gets easier. The team starts to collaborate, share best practices, and everyone helps everyone get better. For example, high-performance sales teams understand that it’s not enough to set a goal and demand it be met. Instead, they check in with sales reps to see how they’re doing. Mainly to find out if something is holding them back or getting in their way.

4. Effective communication

The most significant hallmark of high-performance sales teams is their ability to understand one key thing. We cannot control what goes on outside our businesses, but we can (and must!) control what goes on inside them. That’s why these sales professionals can give and take criticism without offence. Meaning that, ultimately, no one is afraid to express their ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

5. Shared accountability & leadership

Each sales professional accepts they have a shared role and responsibility for the team’s overall performance and results. As a result, expectations are already high. But that doesn’t mean a high-performance sales team is limited to the competency of individuals.

Instead, they foster a spirit of collaboration to achieve shared gain. Leaders of high-performance sales teams have an objective perspective and can balance foresight, performance, and character.

In particular, they break the mould of a traditional sales leader by being emotionally intelligent. They understand how to recognise emotions and how they affect others and can use this to fuel motivation or morale.

6. Adaptability

Our salespeople wear many hats -calling prospects, administrative work, presenting, replying to emails or handling objections. They’re always on their toes.

It is no surprise that high-performance sales teams do it easily. That’s because they know how to utilise every minute of their time effectively. They’re decisive when spending time on prospects that aren’t likely to convert. That’s why they only focus on identifying high-value opportunities and cultivating high-quality leads.

7. Differences are leveraged

Differences are exciting opportunities to formulate different strategies, educate reps, and promote critical thinking; however, they must be managed. 74% of leading companies have said that regular coaching is crucial for their sales team to perform consistently. That’s why high-performance sales teams have excellent sales coaching methodologies in place. Usually, leaders will coach sales reps by:

  • Review a call session to understand what went wrong and develop areas where the sales rep can improve. 
  • Conducting weekly meetings on areas sales reps are less confident in and discussing strategies to boost their confidence.
  • Joining sales reps in their day-to-day sales activities for mentoring.

5 Strategies for Building a High-Performance Sales Team

I encourage sales managers to implement the following five strategies:

  1. Becoming a sales coach which means sharing your vision with your sales team and encouraging them to contribute to the organizational vision.
  2. Improving compensation plans by differentiating between existing accounts and new accounts.
  3. Recruiting and retaining the best talent and keeping in mind the difference between aptitude and attitude.
  4. Assessing productivity and profitability by incorporating quantitative and qualitative criteria.
  5. Automating your sales force and encouraging the use of SFA and CRM among all departments that deal with customers.

Attitude and mindset go a long way when building a high-performing team. When the attitude and potential are there, but the results aren’t yet. Simply train them, teach them, mentor them. If the right attitude isn’t there, well, you know what to do. 

On any team, you’re always going to have people producing well and then some not producing. That’s very, very common. You’re always going to have a situation like that. Your number one job is to look at how to keep supporting the top producers. Why? Because those top producers don’t need much help. You give them a little bit, and they do a lot because they’re so talented and skilled.

Some of the lower producers need a bit more help, and it’s a bit harder. So your number one job is to realise do they have potential? If they have the potential and the right attitude, you can coach them and give them the aptitude.

But if they don’t have the right attitude and you don’t think they have the potential, you got to let them go. You’re building a team and want to have the best people possible. 

A short excerpt on building a high performance sales team from The Singapore Marketer

8 Ways To Build A High-Performance Team

Not all teams are created equally. Some work together as 1 unit, pushing boundaries to excel in everything they do while others are full of conflict and confusion.

Here’s where to start when it comes to building a high-performance team.

  1. Build mutual trust and respect
  2. Create and articulate a clear purpose and vision
  3. Model the behaviour you want to see in your team
  4. Foster a team environment that supports each other
  5. Use SMART Goals to keep staff motivated and focused
  6. Recognise efforts and accomplishments
  7. Praise in public, correct in private
  8. Hire for attitude, train for aptitude 
Infographic on the 8 ways to build a high performance team
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