I am often asked about my methods on running a successful sales team and how do I ensure continuous improvement year on year. For me, any team needs a unique mixture of people, strategies, attributes and styles to really excel. Over a series of blog articles covering 7 areas, I will discuss what are the do’s and don’ts of running a sales team from my perspective.
Today I will be speaking about the first 3 of these areas; The Leader of the team, Responsibilities & Strategy.
I chose the word leader carefully, as in my experience, people who lead sales team’s vs managing them achieve much greater results. A leader should be out there in front, motivating his or her team and leading by example. Showing the team that they can do what is being asked of them along with supporting and developing their team’s ability to achieve and succeed, whilst driving the team forward.
A true leader will support their team in their role and allow them the space to reach their goals. If you are trying to micromanage a sales team, what is the point? I have always found this to be counterproductive and demotivational.
Trust is a major factor and micromanaging can erode this very quickly. Lead from the front and trust your team to do their job… after all, you are the one who decides whether they are part of your team or not.
Moreover, a Leader will take responsibility for his or her team, supporting them when required, developing their skills and holding them accountable when needed. In my experience this will ensure your team grow and evolve as a group, who will take ownership and responsibility for their performance.
Clear Responsibilities & Targets
It is essential that every member of the team understands their role and what they are responsible for. Think of a sports team where no one knows what position they are playing and relate this to your sales team. If there is no clear remit, expect to find lots of confusion, inefficiencies and even conflict. I have always been a believer that if you are paying someone to do a job, then they need to be clear on what that is and allow them to get on with it. SMART objectives, first coined by Peter Drucker back in the 50s, are a really good way to give set clear expectations.
When operating a team that covers multiple cities, counties or nationwide like ourselves, the team need to be clear on not only the remit of the role itself, but also the geographical remit and what they need to do if an opportunity represents itself out with this area; who does it go to, at what point is it no longer in my remit etc? This is a smooth process in my team, I ensure individuals get credit if they started the process even if an opportunity is passed on to another region within our company. This may seem like basic acknowledgement, but the number of times I have seen such a simple step fail over the years would probably surprise you.
Any salesperson needs to understand what the end goal is and what constitutes a great performance. Thus, deciding which targets to give your team is important. Too many targets dilute the message but without a clear target then there is no path to success. I have found that allowing the team an element of input into the targeting process and keeping the numbers element of any target as simple as possible. This generates better buy in and also makes monitoring of performance vs those targets easier for all involved.
A Clear Strategy
Any sales team needs a clear strategy. For example, we are a Painting, Decorating and Building Maintenance company, so our strategy needs to reflect the type of work we want to secure and which sectors we wish to target etc. Without a clear strategy, a sales team has no focus and inevitably will waste valuable time working on areas that do not necessarily fit with the business.
The strategy needs to be well communicated. I sometimes refer to it as a framework or parameters.
The strategy should set these but, as per previous comments, allow the salesperson freedom to do their job within the framework/parameters.
A good sales strategy fits perfectly with the overall business strategy and if it does not? Well you have a big issue on your hands.
Next time I will be discussing the importance of communication and efficient use of time. Look out for that post next week.
By Lee Hamill, Bell Group Sales Director