How to Make Your Sales Team Perform Better

August 20, 2014 Scott Lombardi

how to make your sales team perform betterAnyone looking to make their sales team perform better should be considering a few key factors in their endeavor: Methods of selling, methods for improving, and methods for maintaining morale. These three areas together determine what you can expect from your team, and if any one area is lacking you'll struggle to make your sales team perform better in the long term. In this article, we'll cover four tactics you can utilize to make your sales team perform better in these areas and achieve sustainable improvements in your bottom line. 

Process and Analysis. 

Nothing gives you more tools for making your sales team perform better than establishing having your team members establish their sales processes and track their performance with appropriate metrics. With the combination of a fixed sales process and adequate metrics, you can analyze how team members are performing with a level of precision otherwise impossible.

Even if your team members frequently deviate from their established processes, you can see quite precisely how that deviation affected their sales performance and advise them appropriately. Sales processes might be the same across the team, or highly individualized-the important factor is that you understand the processes at work and know how to work with them. Without those sales processes, it can be difficult to tell where a failed sale to a perfect lead went wrong or where a successful sales to a bad lead went right, even with extensive data.

One-on-One Coaching. 

Studies show it time and time again-coaching individuals gives better returns on manager time than any other activity in terms of improving sales team performance. General coaching approaches are certainly valuable as well, but nothing beats individualized, personalized coaching in terms of making your sales team perform better. 

Why? First, there's less time wasted. You deliver exactly what needs to be heard: less anecdotes, more data; push harder, earlier; follow up more consistently; etc. Second, the personalized approach builds more trust in your leadership and thus improves team morale greatly. It's a two-for-one deal that every single sales manager who wants to make their sales team perform better should be taking advantage of.  

If you don't have enough time, you may be committing the greatest sin for a sales team manager. You might be babysitting your team, playing secretary instead of leading. Make sure your time's being spent on what only you can do: making your sales team perform better.

Personal Incentives. 

The most common sales incentive is fairly useless. Cash bonuses do little to make your sales team perform better, contrary to popular opinion. Study after study shows one thing: People care about earning bonuses in theory, but in practice they almost immediately lose the association between the cash and the extra work. So don't use cash bonuses. 

It sounds a little silly, but one of the strongest incentives may be simple recognition. Pay attention to your team and call attention to the brilliant moves, high performance figures, and other noteworthy actions your team members pull off. If you ask for ideas on a problem, and someone offers a good one, make sure you acknowledge that idea's virtues, whether you use it or not. For tangible bonuses, make it personal: figure out what a team member will really, really remember. Benefits and vacation time also work to make your sales team perform better.

Avoid Poisonous Tactics. 

Whether you're using them or suggesting them to your team, there are certain poisons to avoid if you want to make your sales team perform better. These moves will makes your short term numbers go up, but lose you earnings in the long term. That means avoiding high pressure tactics like threatening to fire underperformers and using failures as public object lessons, and making sure that your sales team isn't using high pressure tactics that endanger buyer's remorse, returns, bad word of mouth, and other long-term problems. They're just not worth it.

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