Building a greater sales team takes more than just a harsher hiring process and bigger paychecks. In most situations, those two things will do little for your overall team quality, in fact. The key to perfecting a team lay in a top-to-bottom approach, beginning with skilled recruiting and moving through four other key areas: training, team building, leadership, and retaining talent. When you consider the lowered performance possible with even the greatest individuals, the potential to pay wildly different salaries for the same quality recruit, and the myriad other ways one might go astray when acquiring talent, it should be clear that this isn’t an easy task—but it’s very worthwhile. So continue on, and find out how to build your sales team up to new heights in 2015.
A superior sales team starts with superior hiring. That means experienced recruiters from in-house or an agency, utilizing the latest in tools and techniques. It also means understanding what you truly need for your company, what you want for your team, and where you can compromise if it results in a stronger overall candidate. A great sales team hire should match your corporate culture, have room to learn, and be someone you know will be along for the ride for years to come.
Nothing matches the power of one-on-one coaching for bringing your sales team up to par. Every study shows the same results. You simply can’t match one-on-one education with anything else. So make sure your team leads know their material, make sure they’re learning the personal strengths and weaknesses of team members, and make sure they’re sitting down with those team members to hash out new approaches, refine existing tactics and strategies, and discuss ways to shore up weaknesses.
Sales teams frequently forget that they are teams, so work to build a work environment that’s conducive to teamwork. If you can get your team members working together, allowing each individual to work at the jobs they’re most effective at, you’ll see a major improvement across the board. The absolute worst thing you can do if you want a greater sales team next year? Encouraging unhealthy levels of competition. A little competition drives success—too much, and the person in the next office is the enemy, not a co-worker. Better to avoid the line completely than cross it, if you’re not sure where it lay.
There’s a bad trend in sales, where team leaders become team secretaries. Your sales team leaders need to be managing, overseeing, and directing—not handling boring bits that your sales agents should be handling themselves. Sorting, organizing, and going through lists…these are jobs each individual should be doing, not something to be foisted off on the team lead. Leadership that leads and coaches results in greater sales teams. If your sales team truly needs a secretary? Hire one. Don’t let your managers be distracted from their more important work. Studies of workplace efficiency have shown that profits go up when team leaders are allowed to focus more of their efforts on the work that only they can do—oversight, strategy development and dissemination, etc. Even your top aces can do their own paperwork, there’s no reason to allow anything else.
You’ll never achieve a truly great sales team until you figure out how to keep turnover low. You’ll bleed away superior talent as fast as you can polish it, leaving you with an ever-refreshing batch of potentially-goods and not a single truly excellent worker. Turnover should be fought with appropriate, personalized incentives programs, challenging-but-reasonable goals, recognition of efforts, and respectful interactions from superiors. Browbeating your sales team today means a weaker sales team in the long term, no matter what results you see immediately. Turnover is the enemy if you want a stronger sales team for 2015!