In managing high performance sales teams, you as the sales leader must be exceptional. The high performance sales teams must exceed expectations in achieving sales targets. All else is irrelevant.
Your leadership skills influence the performance of your sales team. The performance of the team is a reflection of your leadership.
You need to develop a myriad of skills. You must be a visionary, a strategist, an analyst and an effective communicator.
High performance sales teams must achieve audacious sales targets. You must raise your team to heights not achievable on their own. You can use the following strategies to achieve this.
- Strategy #1 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Lead by Example
- Strategy #2 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Integrity is Core Team Value
- Strategy #3 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Develop a 5 year Vision
- Strategy #4 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Keep Selling the Vision
- Strategy #5 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Become Custodian of Goals
- Strategy #6 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Build a 5 year Road Map
- Strategy #7 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Build the Sales Team
- Strategy #8 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Develop an Audacious Compensation Package
- Strategy #9 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Master Your Sales Cycle
- Strategy #10 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Strategically Reviewing Opportunities
- Strategy #11 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Identify and Automate Repeatable Tasks
- Strategy #12 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Develop Autonomous Team Members
- Strategy #13 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Manage Data
- Strategy #14 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Bridge HQ to Team and Market
- Strategy #13 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Custodian of Economic Buyer Relationships
- Strategy #16 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Sales Reviews
- Strategy #17 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Develop Application Expertise
- Strategy #18 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Manage Personal Development of Team Members
- Strategy #19 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Plan and Manage Growth
- Strategy #20 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Linking Activity to Goals
Strategy #1 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Lead by Example
What – You must lead by example. You must be the example.
Why – This allows you to lead with credibility, empathy and compassion. More than what you tell them to do, your team will do what they see you do. You will further get first hand experiential feedback when you are doing the activities. It will also help you stay connected to the market.
How – You must do all the activities expected of your team albeit at a lower volume.
In contrast, the sales leader of a low performance sales team leads by instruction. The sales leader sends out instructions from the comfort of his office. As a result, the sales leader becomes disconnected from the realities of the market. Consequently, he will lose the connection to his team.
Strategy #2 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Integrity is Core Team Value
What – Integrity is best defined as having the courage to meet the demands of reality. You must build the team’s core value upon integrity.
Why – When integrity is the core value of the team, all other corresponding values will fall into place. It is the basis upon which all other positive outcomes evolve.
How – As the leader, you must have the highest integrity level of your team. Lead by example. Reinforce the importance of integrity within your team.
Hold your actions accountable to your team. You must also hold every team member accountable to the team as well.
The sales team must practice integrity within the organization. They must also do so without, in the marketplace. You must never allow team members to view integrity as a situational value. They must conform to the highest standards at all times and not when its convenient. Consistency in practising integrity is a must, from you and the team.
Strategy #3 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Develop a 5 year Vision
What – This is about having a clear 5 year vision with high performance at its core
Why – The vision will focus team efforts. The audacity of the final goal will motivate and set expectations
How – The development of the vision is a collective effort. Both the corporate headquarters and the sales team must provide input into its development. You must also encourage team members to develop 5 year visions for themselves. Help them connect their individual visions to the team vision.
Strategy #4 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Keep Selling the Vision
What –Team members need to buy-in and internalize this vision. You can help this by reaffirming the vision to the team.
Why – You must ensure that team members embrace, internalize and take ownership of the vision
How – Involve your team in the development of the vision. They will embrace it. You must promote the “why” behind the vision. The team must embrace the “why”. Connect the team’s “why” to the team member’s personal “why”. When you make a strong connection, success is inevitable.
You could face challenges with new team members. In this case you must again emphasize the “why” and work on the “buy-in”.
Strategy #5 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Become Custodian of Goals
What – You are the custodian of all team and individual team member goals. You must help develop, organize and manage these goals.
Why – You must align all goals with the 5 year vision
How – You must make the connection between the various goals and targets. This includes the 5 year sales goal, corporate targets, team goals and individual targets.
You could do this with the following steps;
- Mesh corporate goals with the 5 year sales target.
- Connect this with the team’s annual goals.
- Connect to individual team member’s goals.
- You must map out short-term and long-term goals.
- Bring all these goals together.
The sales team can thus works in a unified manner to achieve all the goals.
Strategy #6 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Build a 5 year Road Map
What – This is the road map to realize the 5 year vision and sales goals.
Why – A clear well thought-out strategy will enable the optimization of resources. Furthermore, it will focus team efforts. It is important for team members to know where they are going and how they are going to get there.
How – Develop your strategy according to the following timelines.
- The immediate strategy will focus on achieving current year goals.
- The mid-term strategy will focus on year 2 and 3 goals.
- The long-term strategy will focus on year 4 and 5 goals.
Build your strategy after considering your goals, availability of resources and growth plan.
Strategy #7 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Build the Sales Team
What – This is the process of filling up the team slots according to goals, team strategy and market needs.
Why – You will want to include team members that will contribute towards achieving the team goals
How – You must first decide on the team framework required. You can do this by assessing the following;
- Your growth strategy and 5 year goals
- Needs of the market. This also depends on the region and the product range.
- Your own corporate limitations.
- Envision the roles required and the talents needed to fill it.
- Assess how the existing team will grow to fit these roles.
- Your team will likely comprise of sales employees and external channel partners. You must plan for this.
You need to determine what you must do to achieve the above. Once you have identified the gaps, decide how you will fill them.
Along the way, you will need a worthy deputy. You should actively seek out a team member to fill this role. Develop this person as a worthy successor.
Strategy #8 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Develop an Audacious Compensation Package
What – This relates to the compensation plan and sales incentive package. An audacious 5 year sales goal needs an audacious compensation package.
Why – The right package takes future discussions about money, off the table. Team members can focus on delivering results. When you pay well, the burden of performance is on the team members. You must pay above market level to avoid compensation from being a distraction.
How –A well-designed compensation package must match the complexity of the market or product. It’s advisable to pay team members 10% more than the average market level. Your sales compensation package must meet the needs of the market. Build incentives that reward performance.
Strategy #9 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Master Your Sales Cycle
What – This relates to mapping the sales process
Why – Mapping the sales cycle allows you to visualize your sales process. This allows you to look for areas of standardization and improvement. In the long term, it will increase team efficiency.
How –You should ask each team member to map out the sales process the way he does it. Every sales cycle is unique depending on the product type, market and region. You can create a generic sales cycle map based on the input and discussions of team members. Ask them to refine the sales cycle from experience gained in applying it in the field.
The fine-tuning of the sales cycle is a live process. Team members update the sales cycle map from feedback and real life experience.
Mapping of the sales cycle should culminate to a sales handbook. This handbook should allow ordinary sales people to achieve extraordinary results.
Strategy #10 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Strategically Reviewing Opportunities
What – You must review each opportunity in the most effective and strategic manner
Why – It allows you to map the current position of a sales opportunity. Based on this, you can assess your next steps in improving your standing in the sales process.
Strategy #11 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Identify and Automate Repeatable Tasks
What – This relates to seeking and automating tasks that are mundane and repeatable
Why – The automation of these processes will bring structure and organization to the team as a whole
How – This relates to setting processes or using the correct tools. You must be alert to identify activity that benefits from order and structure. Among others, these activity include;
- Use Customer Relationship Management tools for management of customer data, visits and reports. It is an effective tool to measure activity metrics.
- Establishing periodic reporting requirements (project lists, market overviews, sales forecasts, project pipeline, etc.). You should establish timelines and use standardized templates where possible.
- Systematic manner of collecting and retrieving information
- Availability of a sales kit or on-boarding process. This will allow you to rapidly start a new sales person
Keep a lookout for technology that aids your sales cycle. You must avoid team members spending more time on their computers than customers. Maintains balance at all times.
Strategy #12 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Develop Autonomous Team Members
What – You must build a team that can deliver results independent of you
Why – Autonomous members free your resources to do more higher valued tasks. It also allows each individual to contribute in a manner that maximizes his potential
How – You must aspire to yield increasing level of autonomy to team members. Track team members to the point of yielding full autonomy.
You can do this by setting the rules of engagement and expectations. The team will need clear guidelines and boundaries. With these in place, you can give team members autonomy to develop their sales. Autonomy does not come without a high level of accountability. Consequently, accountability results from impeccable integrity.
Strategy #13 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Manage Data
What – This relates to managing market intelligence and sales related data
Why – Effective data management will increase your teams effectiveness and efficiency
How – You must set up processes to collect sales and market related data. Gathered data should allow for effective analysis.The team must analyse all wins and losses. You must feed the outcome of the analysis back into the sales cycle map. Do the same for the strategic analysis process.
Note – There are reliable services that provide market information and project leads. You could subscribe to one of these services that saves resources to search for leads. Teams should work together with the aid of effective collaboration tools.
Strategy #14 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Bridge HQ to Team and Market
What – You are the bridge between HQ and your sales team. You must do the same for the market.
Why – This is to keep corporate headquarters connected to the market and front-end sales. The organization can react quickly when well connected to the pulse of the market
How – The corporate HQ needs succinct and consistent updating. You can do this by providing the following;
- Customer overviews
- Market surveys
- Political and economic overviews
- Key sales overviews. This includes a status of key opportunities
- Analyse and summarize market trends
Strategy #13 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Custodian of Economic Buyer Relationships
What – The economic buyers are the decision makers in opportunities pursued by the sales team. You must own these relationships.
Why – Access to the economic buyer is crucial during the sales process. Economic Buyer is usually a member of higher management. As such, you are the best person to own this relationship.
How – You can do this in the following 3 ways;
Work with the sales team to connect with the economic buyer. You work to build this relationship
Manage interactions with the economic buyers when pursuing opportunities. You do this with the help of your team members
You work with the sales team to keep the relationships warm.
Strategy #16 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Sales Reviews
What – The sales review is where you review previous sales activities. Based on these, you define future activities to achieve your goals.
Why – This is the feedback loop that keeps you focused on your goals
How – You can conduct these reviews with individual team members. You can do this monthly, quarterly or annually. The review process consists of the following 4 aspects;
Filling the opportunity pipeline – You must ensure that the sales team generate enough leads. The success of lead generation ties back to sales activities
Increasing wins. You can do this via strategic analysis of key opportunities. Review the strategy with the team member. You can use your experience to look for flaws and fine-tune the strategy.
Maintaining and optimizing current customer relationships. You can do this by reviewing and defining the key activities to achieve the set goals for that customer
Fine tuning of sales processes – The team member and you look for areas of improvement. This includes input into the sales cycle map.
Strategy #17 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Develop Application Expertise
What – You must make your team members experts in applying your products
Why – Your team will find creative ways to sell your product. It will also help best position your product as you go into a bidding cycle
How – You must develop your team members into a “one stop technical solutions provider”. Sales team members needn’t be technical experts. They only need quick access to information and expertise when the need arises.
Strategy #18 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Manage Personal Development of Team Members
What – This relates to your role in the personal development of team members
Why – You must guide personal development efforts of team members. They will likely not place much importance to this on their own.
How – You can identify gaps by using assessments, others’ feedback and personal observations. There are online assessments that help to identify gaps. These include strength assessments, 360 degree reviews and personality overviews. You must look for the best remedy for the gaps identified. These include personal coaching, reading programs or external seminars.
Strategy #19 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Plan and Manage Growth
What – Growth relates to expanding the team and all consequent services associated with it.
Why – The key aim of the high performance sales team is to grow sales from year 1 to year 5. This also involves growing the team that will grow the sales volume.
How – The growth will involve the planning for new hires or channel partners. This is necessary to venture into new products or markets. The ideal growth strategy must include triggers to start the hiring process.
The 5 year strategy must include the growth and expansion plan. You best do a detailed analysis of the growth plan for time span of up to 1 year upfront.
You must further keep your mind open to new partners or opportunities. The growth strategy must allow enough time for the recruitment process.
Strategy #20 for Managing High Performance Sales Teams – Linking Activity to Goals
What – This relates to connecting major team goals to individual activity metrics. As an example, the number of customer visits required a month to reach a certain annual sales target.
Why – Sales team members can fine-tune their activities to reach sales targets. They can do this by using the activity metrics as a guide
How – You must break down organizational goals to the team and further to the individual level. You must discover and define the metrics that link to sales success. Guide the team members to link these metrics to their respective sales targets. Teach team members to link annual goals to daily and weekly activity metrics.
Once the team members can see the connection, allow them to set the activity targets. This could be hitting a certain number of weekly customer visits. It could also include sending out certain number of proposals. The team members are in control of their activities.