5 Fundamental Steps to Lead a Sales Team
Establishing a solid foundation for you and your sales team will lead to a more satisfying culture. This foundation will help you to build and grow a profitable department within your company that produces well and achieves targets. These five steps will help you establish your foundation and cultivate good habits.
1. Set Clear Goals and Expectations
Sometimes setting the goals and expectations is the easiest thing to do. However, if you are not clearly communicating them and giving them the resources to achieve these goals, both you and your sales representative will be disappointed with results. The goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (SMART). In addition to the goals and expectations you set, ask them if they think they are reasonable. Ask them if there is anything they would add. If their feedback is that they are not reasonable, strategize together to show them how they are achievable.
2. Make Time for Coaching & Development
In your position, you likely have a lot on your plate. It’s easy to set the expectation and split. It is exponentially more effective if you carve out specific time with your team member each week. This is the time you go over the specific road map to get them to their targets. This is where you inspect what you expect and where you check to see if the strategies you came up with are working. Sometimes the strategy doesn’t work and you have to make a quick pivot. In addition, don’t simply ask if they need anything. They will likely say that they don’t. Ask specific questions like, “How did your follow up go with, XYZ company?” and “Did you reach out by email and phone with an offer to all the attendees at your networking event last week?” Ask if they need extra support to stay on target. Among all the inspection, coaching and direction, it’s really important to also ask them about a win and celebrate them. Constructive feedback including praise is crucial.
3. Provide Resources
Here is where we can get creative and have a little fun. You should know your sales representative’s style and it’s your job to help them to cultivate and strengthen the skills they have. If they are a relationship person; research groups and communities, you think they would do well in. Take it a step further and review the communities and groups together to spark interest and discuss how you would approach certain individuals or companies. Take notice of their hobbies, quirks, experiences and help them tailor it to their approach and outreach. Some helpful resources would include lists of entities you want them to prospect, specific dialogue or templates for calling and emailing, lists of networking groups; referral groups, associations relevant to your industry, chambers, etc.
One more time for the people in the back… diversify! One sales strategy that works very well for you might not work as well for one of your sales representatives. Ask them to maximize their efforts to include calling, emailing, face-to-face meetings, social selling, networking and leveraging existing business and referrals. You should be able to measure the new business they are bringing in.
5. Give them space
As a sales leader, you probably got to where you are because you are exceptional at what you do. Most sales leaders have high expectations and because you know what works it can be a challenge to not take control of situations. As you are leading teams and people it is important to give them time and space to succeed. Yes, you need to make sure they are on track however, you also need to allow them to fail (learn) and grow. If you instill confidence and trust within your teams it creates a more liberating culture.
Being in sales is not for the faint of heart. As you build and grow it’s important to hold yourself accountable to similar standards you set for your team but also give yourself grace in the process of building. You got this!