There is nothing better than enjoying a great steak, prepared medium rare, cooked over hardwood coals, with a side of fresh hot fries, and an inky Cabernet, please. A quality steak house always does the right things right and it shows in the amazing food it serves, in the high prices it demands, and in the many customers who are willing to buy.
Similarly, companies with successful sales teams have no trouble attracting customers, standing out from the competition in a crowded field, or commanding a premium price for their offer. Just like a great steak house, they do the right things right.
So what are some of those right things to develop a successful sales team?
- Having a strategy which the company uses to differentiate itself in the market,
- Correct target marketing and territory management that aligns with the differentiation strategy,
- Lead generation process, strategy and its effective execution,
- A selling system and its effective execution toward early qualification and deal management,
- Metrics used to identify early failure points and the corresponding sales process for improvement,
- A pipeline system that identifies quality opportunities over quantity of opportunities while delivering an accurate financial forecast,
- The effective motivation of the team (compensation, quota and mission),
- Hiring “A” level salespeople, meaning the quality and fit of the individuals on the sales team; and finally,
- Effective leadership that provides ongoing strategic direction and coaching of the team with measurable continuous improvement in each of the above items.
And here’s the beginning of doing them right:
- Differentiation – Separating your company from the competition does not mean that you have to have the best product or offering. Often being the best can distract you from what the customer really wants. Perhaps you have noticed it’s not always the best product that wins! It is so important to truly know and understand your customer.
- Target Marketing and Territory Management – Salespeople are expensive! Therefore, it is essential that we leverage their skills and time. Give me a talented salesperson who is purposely directed to calling on exactly the right target customer with a strategy to get to the decision maker, and I’ll give you a winner. Typically, salespeople are not the best administrators, they need help with this.
- Lead Generation – Repeat of point 2 – salespeople are expensive! Sacred prospecting time is critical to every salesperson’s success. However, a good lead generation program through effective marketing, leverages your salespeople’s time and tells you if your differentiation story is working. If it is not working, return to step 1 above.
- Selling System – Can a new sales person consistently identify a problem with a significant consequence, from a decision maker within your target market, that your product or service can address? That’s the first key indicator to knowing if you have a sales team you can scale. It is also the start of a meaningful sales cycle worthy of investment of your company’s time and resources. Without a selling system that gets your sales people consistently across this chasm along with effective opportunity management, your growth opportunity will be stuck.
- Metrics – When training a dog who is having trouble getting house trained, you must catch them in the act and correct it immediately or it becomes a bad habit that leads to failure. So too, salespeople need clarity on what the right things are (and are not) with immediate corrections and rewards. Well-designed metrics that tell you what is happening and when, will allow you to take the right actions that lead to success before it is too late. This is especially important in long sale cycles.
- Pipeline – The main thing is keeping the main thing, the main thing. In other words, knowing you have a clean pipeline full of opportunities with merit (versus a bloated pipeline) allows you to continually invest in growth, at your chosen pace.
- Hiring “A” Level Salespeople – What most organizations may not realize is that a non or underperforming salesperson is the most expensive salesperson you can hire. They bring everyone else down a notch and they leave untold sales waiting for the competition to enjoy, e.g. unrealized revenue that should belong to you. If you don’t have a proven process to identify and find top talent with the right sales competencies for your environment, you will greatly limit your ability to grow and scale in any meaningful way.
- Leadership – This means just that. It’s first doing the right things listed above. Then, as Covey says, it’s about doing them right. It’s making sales people better at who they are and what they do. It’s about instilling belief through example, showing them that the future is bright with demonstrable proof, and giving them a path to success so they know how to get there. It’s about cultural change and transformation so that we know who we are, where we are going and how we are going to get there!
Good selling & sales team development!