Building an Excellent Sales Team

We end our series with the most important topic, “Building an Excellent Sales Team”. Without a good sales team there will be no customers, and without customers you can’t think of developing new products and services, maximising sales opportunities or increasing customer profitability

Your sales team is therefore the core to driving growth through sales. Their role is to:

  • Build trust with customers and uphold your values.
  • Work to engage customers throughout the sales cycle and also to re-engage old customers.
  • Educate customers on the company’s brand and value.
  • Drive sales and increase profitability.

Here are five ways to cultivate a successful sales team:

Have a clear vision

Know what you want to achieve with your business; where do you see yourself in the short-term and long-term? Reduce this to qualitative as well as quantitative aspects. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. How many employees do I aspire to have within a year, three years, five years and long-term?
  2. How much am I willing to spend to acquire this team?
  3. Am I aware that as my business grows I will have to hire more professional people to handle elite clients which will come at a greater cost?

Create a great product

Your sales team must have a great product they can believe in, in order to sell, and to generate to sales. They should also be knowledgeable about the product, and understand your vision.

If this is not the case, sales people create their own procedures and processes, which might not align with your vision. Flexibility is good, but you must give them a clear view of how you want them to sell your products, and how to handle customer objections.

Lead by example

As a business owner, you should lead by example. One of the biggest challenges businesses face from their employees is resistance to change. To create a positive work environment, send a clear message from the top on what is expected of your sales team. Spend time working with them, and learning what it is they do on a daily basis. A hands-on business owner creates an atmosphere of success.

Let your employees know you recognise the importance of the sales team, and that you acknowledge that the entire business rides on their success. You might still experience some resistance, but with clear communication and commitment, staff will start to understand what you require from them.

Find the right people

Finding sales staff is easy, but finding staff that fits with your business can be a challenge. The right salespeople understand your business, know which customers to target and can make an effective sales pitch. They build strong relationships with customers and know how to overcome objections, which is key in any business.

As a general rule, successful salespeople possess the following qualities:

  1. They are good communicators and love people.
  2. They are enthusiastic about life in general.
  3. They are active, not passive. They take the initiative.
  4. They are teachable.
  5. They ask a lot of questions.
  6. They are over-achievers.

Now that you know which qualities to look for, how do you measure it when hiring?

The best advice I can give is to simulate scenarios. Instead of the traditional face-to-face interview, give the candidates a trial period. This can be a 1-day trial where you hand a list of “dummy clients” and allow the candidate to demonstrate how they would approach each situation. You can use your current staff to act as clients and make sure to give your actors a script with objections and unexpected responses.

Have a clear and fair compensation plan

It’s important to motivate your sales team through a compensation plan. This plan should include a basic salary, commission, and rewards.  The compensation plan should be fair and achievable. Having targets that your sales team can’t reach will only create frustration within the organisation.

Do some research on industry peers to find the best compensation plan, and tailor it to your own business. You can also consult a specialist to help develop your own plan.

Finally, consider structuring your commissions on the profit rather than actual revenue. This helps the team to focus on increasing growth by focusing on more profitable products. However, this does not work for every business; some businesses are more successful with the revenue model. You can try both models and see which works best.

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