With all the changes going on in your markets, how do you increase your sales professionals’ effectiveness and results? Over the past several years we’ve seen sales cycles getting longer, fewer qualified meetings with clients, and lower sales volume. The year 2013 is going to be a challenging selling year for many reasons that may be out of your control as sales leader. Several of my clients have implemented a team selling approach to their business development efforts. The results have been less than stellar. I’ve been asked to come in to help them decide if it’s the economy or their approach to team selling that’s causing these poor results. If it’s the economy, several of these clients may have to cut back on their teams. If it’s their team selling approach, we’ll work together with their teams to get them back on track. Either way, it will be a challenging first quarter for my clients.For many of the organizations I have worked with team selling is a large part of their success in establishing themselves as a high growth business every year. I thought it might be helpful to understand what these organizations have in common. I’ll also incorporate what I have learned working with many high performing teams, including military special forces , cardiovascular surgeons, and first responder teams.
The first quality of a high performing sales team is simplicity. This is the most crucial part of creating a winning sales team. It’s easy to say, hard on execution. There must be a clearly acknowledged leader of this team. The functions of the leader can change throughout the team’s life but the leader’s role of holding people on the team accountable for results never changes. The leader of the selling team must be able to limit the number of objectives, have a strong understanding of the client organizations, and be willing to innovate in how they structure their team. The team must understand both the short and long term objectives for each client. They must clearly understand what their roles are and what is expected of them.
The second quality of a high performing sales team is a specific purpose. This purpose must be set at the time of the team’s creation. The purpose must be clear to everyone on the team. The purpose should be shared with everyone on the team and every person who joins the team during the life of the projects. Purpose can evolve, but individuals need to understand what their roles are and how they support the key objectives of the team.
The third quality of high performing sales teams is they are well trained. High performing teams are trained on their roles and responsibilities. They schedule time for training and development. They also meet on a regular basis to make sure that the team knows what is going on in their areas of responsibilities. They share information so that everyone on the team knows what is happening in the account. Because of the varied roles of the team members, these regular meetings allow everyone on the team to know what’s happening with the client, your organization, and their fellow team members.
The fourth quality of a high performing sales team is speed. Speed is how fast you can achieve your sales objective. For a complex sale you may have several key objectives to reach before the sale is completed. Without having the first three qualities, speed and agility are hard to achieve. If the first three qualities are in place, speed becomes a differentiator in your business.
To make speed work, an organization needs to put informal communication networks in place so information flows to the right people. If your consultants are perfectionists or your sales people unresponsive, communication can doom your selling teams to failure. I have found that educating team members to your expectations and the reasons why make communications faster and easier. A quick FYI note or a call when a situation is heating up can help you win more business. The sales professional needs to serve as the activator to get things done quickly. To make speed work, senior level executives must be onboard. If not, team selling will not work.
Next week we will share some simple tools to help you manage and motivate a high performing sales team. With several easy tactics, you can help your team perform at higher levels than you thought possible. See you here next week.