There are certain things successful sales organisations do that allow them to consistently outperform their competitors. While every business will be different in its approach and structure, some principles are applicable to most. Bill Brooks, author, consultant and former CEO of a multi-million dollar company, has taken a look at the fundamental success points on which he believes any sales organisation should be based.
Hire the right people
However you manage a person, it will make no difference if they were not the right person for the job in the first place. You will waste time and money nurturing and training, only to find that, in the end, they will be unable to perform at the level you need them to.
Hire with a great deal of caution, and be very quick to determine whether they are able to perform. Avoid the age-old mistake of believing that a little training and familiarity will “bring them round”. If they don’t have it, you can’t force it into them.
On the other hand, someone who intrinsically has the capacity to perform a specific task or role will absorb the knowledge quickly, and get fired up by the prospects. This person is instantly recognisable as being right for the job, and worth nurturing.
Promote the right people and empower them
Many companies will take their top-performing salesperson and promote them to sales manager. Bad move. It will almost invariably mean they lose their best salesperson (thereby sales) and end up with an unqualified sales manager.
The best salespeople by their very nature, will invariably work best alone, be somewhat aggressive and gregarious and want to be liked. Managers, on the other hand, need to be able to think in terms of systems and processes, and not be afraid to demand that others perform.
Responsibility and authority should go hand in hand – responsibility is the obligation to perform and authority is the right to act. A person with lots of responsibility but no authority is likely to burn out, while lots of authority and no responsibility can lead to abuse of power. So it is important that the right people are chosen for sales management roles and then are empowered to perform.
Provide training and ongoing coaching
Without substantial orientation – more than a simple “there is your desk”, and “here are some listings” – new salespeople can become overwhelmed and find it hard to deliver the standard of results you want. Ongoing training and mentoring is not only good practice, but allows you to reassess your staff on a regular basis. The most effective organisations focus on their people, so make sure yours are well trained and taken care of.
Establish a culture of accountability
Being held accountable means having to answer for your own actions and results, which is critical within any successful group. Many organisations, large and small, will spend more time looking at the final figures rather than monitoring throughout and studying what actually brought about those figures – the activities, behaviours, attitudes, etc. Finding out at the last minute that a process has failed leaves no time to rectify the situation.
Build a sales culture
To create the most effective selling environment for your sales team, you need to create a strong sales culture within the organisation, even if it takes a while. Once you have found the salespeople with whom you can work and who are eager and already experiencing success, it is important to build on this. Hold regular weekly meetings to review activity and to recognise successes, and then from time to time have a less formal session such as a breakfast gathering.
To have a successful sales team, you need to take the time to hire the right people, put resources into coaching and training, and then nurture and treat them well, just as the large organisations do. This way, you will create an environment where being in sales is valued, and your bottom line will begin to show considerable improvement.