4 Critical Steps to Building A Successful Sales Team White Paper


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4 Critical Steps to Building A Successful Sales Team White Paper - Whether purely transactional, consultative or a blend of the two, creating a successful sales team is generally a make or break proposition for most businesses.

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4 Critical Steps to Building A Successful Sales Team White Paper

  1. 1. PEOPLE. PERFORMANCE. PROFITABILITY. 4 Critical Steps to Building a Successful Sales Team By: Jerry Scher, Principal Introduction Contents Whether purely transactional, consultative or a blend of the two, creating a successful sales team is generally a make or break Introduction . . . . . . . . . 1 proposition for most businesses. You’ve likely heard “it’s not a Step 1: Determine if a direct business until something gets sold.” So, unless you have money to sales team is the right business burn and don’t care if you ever make even a small profit, a successful model for you . . . . . . . . 1 sales team is must. Step 2: Select the Right People It’s less important what you sell – physical products or intangible - the First Time . . . . . . . . 3 services – and more important to determine the right sales method mix, the right people, the right training and the right management Step 3: Design Effective Sales systems that will give you the best shot at success, now and into the Training and Coaching Programs . . . . . . . . . . . 5 future. Step 4: Manage Your Sales The answers to all of these critical questions will be as unique as your Team . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 specific business. In this whitepaper you’ll find a proven framework to guide you in finding your unique answers. About the Author. . . . . . 11 Step 1: Determine if a direct sales team is the right business model for you One of the most common goals of any business is to increase its revenue and profitability. Most often it is assumed that in order to achieve this goal, it is necessary to establish and/or expand a direct sales team. This may or may not be the most effective or cost efficient approach to accomplishing your goal. Prior to plunging directly into this strategy, it is imperative that a variety of business issues be reviewed. Where does your business come from, and what do you need to know? ▲▲ Do you analyze where your current sales come from? ▲▲ How many clients make up your current sales volume, and what percentage do they represent? ▲▲ What is the profitability of each client? ▲▲ How do you attract new clients? ▲▲ Why do new clients select your company? ▲▲ Why do they continue to do business with you? ▲▲ What are your overall sales goals for the next few years? www.peakfocuscoach.com Peak Focus LLC © 2008-2012 • All rights reserved.Page 1 Unauthorized duplication in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
  2. 2. PEOPLE. PERFORMANCE. PROFITABILITY. ▲▲ Can you achieve these goals with the organization that is already in place? ▲▲ If you add more people, how will they be managed? In today’s marketplace there are many different ways to reach out to new prospects that need to be considered before investing in sales people. Technology has made information more readily available to clients; sales people are no longer seen as the primary source of information. Buyers and decision makers are multi-tasking and are in a state of information overload. Their time is far more valuable than in the past, and the role of the sales professional has dramatically By carefully defining changed. the sales role in your organization, you will be far What role does marketing play in your business growth? Do you more effective in selecting have a well thought out marketing plan and are you implementing the people to fill the role. it effectively? Creatively designed, successfully executed marketing The skill set necessary to be strategies can not only strategically position your company for growth successful in sales today is but can also contribute significantly to your business retention quite different than in years demands. past. Define the Sales Professional’s Role Before embarking on a recruiting and hiring spree, carefully determine the role you want sales people to play in your organization. In years past the sales person was responsible for the entire selling process. However, in most organizations today a variety of people have become involved in this process. Consider these responsibilities: ▲▲ Prospecting and locating new sources of business ▲▲ Pre-qualifying prospective clients ▲▲ Retaining existing business ▲▲ Developing accounts to increase account share ▲▲ Managing client relationships at multiple levels ▲▲ Integrating technology into business management ▲▲ Providing solution resources to clients By carefully defining the sales role in your organization, you will be far more effective in selecting the people to fill the role. The skill set necessary to be successful in sales today is quite different than in years past. The job has changed; the market is far more competitive and clients have many more choices. Asking a transactional sales person to become a solutions provider or consultative resource is beyond a tall order. It just doesn’t happen. www.peakfocuscoach.com Peak Focus LLC © 2008-2012 • All rights reserved.Page 2 Unauthorized duplication in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
  3. 3. PEOPLE. PERFORMANCE. PROFITABILITY. Theory of Optimization If your inclination is to hire new sales people, first consider carefully the effectiveness of your current sales staff. The Theory of Optimization is just as important in maximizing output from your sales people as it is for the investment in other areas of your business. Consider everything you must do in order to get the biggest bang for your buck. Hiring additional, average-to-poorly performing sales people is not the fast track to achieve your sales growth goals. Step 2: Select the Right People – the First Time We’ve covered the importance of defining the role of professional sales person in your organization. This analysis must take Sales professionals must into consideration what your clients are looking for in a sales not only be knowledgeable representative. In years past, the sales person was the primary source about their product and/or of information; however, in today’s high tech business environment, service offering but must quite frequently the client has as much or more information about have the interpersonal the product or service options than the sales person. They definitely communication skills have more knowledge about their needs and requirements. Therefore, enabling them to uncover sales professionals must not only be knowledgeable about their the clients’ needs and product and/or service offering but must have the interpersonal expectations, and communication skills enabling them to uncover the clients’ needs strategically position and expectations, and strategically position themselves as a trusted themselves as a trusted business resource. This requires the capacity to be truly customer business resource. This focused and not just product focused – to move from transactional requires the capacity to be persuaders to consultative resources. truly customer focused and not just product focused – to Once the job description is completed, the process of selecting move from transactional the right people begins with your recruiting activities. Recruiting persuaders to consultative is a continuous process and not just an event that occurs when a resources. sales opening needs to be filled. The same manner in which you market your company to prospective clients must be used to create marketing strategies that establish your competitive brand in the region. The ultimate goal is for you to have potential applicants regularly contacting you because your company is a highly desired place to work. Networking within your industry, as well as in other industries in which you plan to sell, is a great way to further your recruiting strategy. While seeking people with sales experience in your industry is logical, it is not always a successful approach to finding the most productive sales people. If you have created effective orientation and training programs and have a successful sales management structure/system in place, including effectual sales coaching, your networking can be expanded to include candidates that have the right stuff but not the desired length of experience or industry- specific knowledge. In many cases this is the best way to build a loyal, talented sales team. www.peakfocuscoach.com Peak Focus LLC © 2008-2012 • All rights reserved.Page 3 Unauthorized duplication in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
  4. 4. PEOPLE. PERFORMANCE. PROFITABILITY. When adding to your staff is the right decision, we’re proponents of hire tough, manage easy. The process of actually selecting the right person for the job involves three, well-defined activities: ▲▲ Eligibility – involves determining if the individual can do the job. You must consider past experience, skills and knowledge currently held, previous training received and the level of education achieved. Carefully review the candidate’s resume More often than not, and don’t accept everything without dissecting the information people are hired based carefully. on eligibility and fired based on suitability. ▲▲ Suitability – involves determining if the individual will do Most companies look at the job. This is best accomplished by utilizing a validated a resume, get references behavioral assessment system that can predict how an individual and then interview – and will behave. The assessment should be based on the work hire or promote based on environment and should consider the individual’s personal eligibility. Few take the interests. It has been established that people will perform time to objectively evaluate more effectively in a job if they enjoy the required tasks, have a candidates (for hire or personal interest in the work, and the work environment matches promotion) for suitability. It their personal preferences. The assessment must also evaluate is imperative to look beyond the traits or behaviors the individual exhibits and these traits can the person do the job, should be tied to the essential traits the job requires. Selecting and look at will they do the the right people without determining suitability is extremely job, and do it well… costly. ▲▲ Interview – The third component of the selection process is the most interactive and requires a significant amount of skill on the part of the interviewer. With the information gathered from the eligibility and suitability processes, the interviewer must carefully plan the interview and determine who else should be involved in the process; team interviewing is by far the most effective. Everyone involved must know the job requirements, review the available information, carefully consider the assessment profile, dig into the resume, and prepare a wide range of questions they plan to ask. The questions should be open ended providing the candidate the opportunity to speak at length, while the interviewer peels back the onion one layer at a time. In the case of a sales interview, the use of role playing is extremely effective in determining a candidate’s selling skill. It is quite simple, in a matter of a few minutes, to uncover a candidate’s instinctive sales capability. The process of selecting the right people is a crucial part of building a successful sales team. As in the building of any successful team, selecting the best talent that fits within your organization will enable you to achieve your company’s goals. www.peakfocuscoach.com Peak Focus LLC © 2008-2012 • All rights reserved.Page 4 Unauthorized duplication in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
  5. 5. PEOPLE. PERFORMANCE. PROFITABILITY. Key Concepts/Issues for Emphasis ▲▲ To make it today, sales people must be customer focused, not just product focused! ▲▲ Recruiting is an ongoing process, not just an event. It should be an extension of your marketing and branding activities. ▲▲ The selection process should include reviewing eligibility, determining suitability and optimizing the interview process. ▲▲ Does your organization have the capacity to coach talented sales professionals without a lot of experience? ▲▲ Do you have a strong sales management structure/system in place? We’ve heard executives say, “What if I train them and they leave?” Your greatest concern Step 3: Design Effective Sales Training and should be “What if you don’t train them and they stay.” Coaching Programs The progression that leads to the development of an effective organization requires careful planning and execution. As you expand your team and search for the right players, your focus should be on the knowledge and competence that employees can contribute to your organization’s efforts. In Step 2, focusing on selecting the right people, we referred to the eligibility and suitability of applicants. As you become more proficient at recruiting and hiring, your focus must be on your organization’s ability to develop the competencies of each employee. In your organization’s work to reach goals and take your business to a higher level, the skill and competence of your employees will determine the capacity to achieve your organizational goals and growth. Leveraging one of your business’s most valuable assets requires nourishment; in other words, multifaceted and continuous training programs must be in place and professionally executed. I have heard executives say, “What if I train them and they leave?” Your greatest concern should be “What if you don’t train them and they stay.” Building a successful sales team requires thoughtfully designed training and coaching programs and activities. In developing your programs you should consider these questions: www.peakfocuscoach.com Peak Focus LLC © 2008-2012 • All rights reserved.Page 5 Unauthorized duplication in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
  6. 6. PEOPLE. PERFORMANCE. PROFITABILITY. ▲▲ How will your company be different in the future? ▲▲ What is the changing role of the sales professional in your industry? ▲▲ What should they know and what skills do they require? ▲▲ Is selling a team sport or an individual sport at your company? ▲▲ How do your employees learn? ▲▲ How can you make learning more interesting and effective? ▲▲ Who are the best trainers in or for your organization? It is essential that a ▲▲ How will you measure the results of your training efforts? well thought out sales management system or ▲▲ What content should be included? program be designed ▲▲ How much time should be allocated on company time? that clearly defines your expectations and allows Training programs should be structured and well organized. Any your sales team to actually training that is provided should be documented and converted into manage themselves. Once components of an overall training system. One of the questions this system is in place, the most often asked by potential recruits is, “How will I be trained?” Well sales manager’s primary documented training programs are great branding tools during your role should be to manage/ recruiting efforts. maintain the system and provide the necessary Your training system should, at a minimum, include the following: coaching so that your sales people can grow ▲▲ Orientation and Organizational Training professionally and adapt ▲▲ Product and Process Knowledge to the dynamic market ▲▲ Technology Competency environment. ▲▲ Interpersonal Communication Skills ▲▲ Sales Process and Activities ▲▲ Sales Admin ▲▲ Team Selling Not only do your newly hired sales people need to be trained and coached, so do your seasoned professionals. They require continuous education and encouragement to adapt to changing technologies, maintain and expand their knowledge, capabilities and team selling proficiency. During the course of a sales professional’s career, you should regularly review their strengths and weaknesses and they should participate in established training (and coaching) activities to improve their effectiveness. In addition to strengthening your team’s core skills, such programs enable you to communicate your organization’s current and future focus. www.peakfocuscoach.com Peak Focus LLC © 2008-2012 • All rights reserved.Page 6 Unauthorized duplication in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
  7. 7. PEOPLE. PERFORMANCE. PROFITABILITY. Effective training programs begin with the recognition that they are critical to your organization’s success. Establishing a training priority and carefully defining and sharing your goals and objectives are essential. Assigning a training champion is a must if you really want to be successful. Clearly communicating to all employees that their growth and development is a high priority to your organization will strengthen your recruiting efforts, enhance employee loyalty, reinforce your relationships with existing clients, and ultimately lead to the business growth you hope to achieve. Step 4: Manage Your Sales Team The combination of training and coaching is essential. In the first of these steps we challenged you to consider your What’s the difference? Well, company’s overall business development strategy and whether to coach means to help developing a direct sales force was the most appropriate approach. develop or fine tune a skill The second step focused on how to select the right people and finally, or talent. It’s impossible in the third step, we discussed how to design effective training and to coach what doesn’t yet coaching programs. All of these areas are fundamental components of exist. That’s why you must building a successful professional sales team. As these fundamentals teach first, then coach. They are being put in place, your success at optimizing your overall sales go hand in hand. Teaching program will hinge on how well your sales team is managed. without coaching is a major reason training efforts often We’re strong believers in the concept that you should manage your fall flat and don’t produce the system and coach your team. It is essential that a well thought out anticipated results. sales management system or program be designed that clearly defines your expectations and allows your sales team to actually manage themselves. Once this system is in place, the sales manager’s primary role should be to manage/maintain the system and provide the necessary coaching so that your sales people can grow professionally and adapt to the dynamic market environment. If you select the right people with the appropriate skills and experience (eligibility) and behavioral traits (suitability), then this approach will result in significant growth. Let’s take a look at the components of an effective sales management program. ▲▲ Strategy and Planning ▲▲ Sales Process Management ▲▲ Resource Deployment ▲▲ Coaching and Leadership ▲▲ Sales Compensation Design and Implementation ▲▲ Recruiting, Hiring and Training ▲▲ Technology Management www.peakfocuscoach.com Peak Focus LLC © 2008-2012 • All rights reserved.Page 7 Unauthorized duplication in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
  8. 8. PEOPLE. PERFORMANCE. PROFITABILITY. Strategy and Planning Prior to designing the management structure you must facilitate a strategic planning process that not only defines what success looks like but also provides a clear picture of your current status. One goal should be to involve the key players in this process so that the team can become aligned around company expectations while preparing written goals and objectives. Sales Process Management You should clearly define the sales philosophy/approach that will be utilized and communicate it to the team. It is most effective if you can provide a step-by-step process for your company’s selling If you expect your sales strategies so that sales people can develop the necessary skills for people to effectively implementation. Integrating transactional and consultative sales prospect for new clients, you strategies into your overall business development plan requires must supply them with the thoughtful planning and communication. proper technology tools for the job. A software system Resource Deployment that can handle the tasks As more people in your organization become involved in the of sales workflow, contact overall sales process, the sales manager is responsible for deploying management, sales reporting appropriate company resources to win new clients and protect your and forecasting, marketing hard earned business. This of course requires a strategic analysis of and client correspondence where your business comes from (yes, the work you completed back and expense reporting can in Step 1, in an ongoing process) as well as what is required to defend have a dramatic positive the business that is essential to your continued success. Setting and impact on sales growth and communicating priorities is a crucial component of this process. profitability. Coaching and Leadership “If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day; if you teach him to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.” 1 One great indicator of strong leadership is the ability to make the people around you better. This is accomplished by providing an example so that the process of modeling can occur. This is further accomplished by designing a carefully executed coaching program. This of course requires an accurate assessment of individual and team strengths and weaknesses and developing a plan that will, over time, assist your sales people in improving their overall competence. Once an objective assessment is accomplished, teaching your sales people how to develop their own personal development strategic plan and assisting them in carrying it out is what professional sales management is all about. No two members of your sales team are alike; therefore their development plans must be as unique as the individuals. 1 Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher www.peakfocuscoach.com Peak Focus LLC © 2008-2012 • All rights reserved.Page 8 Unauthorized duplication in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
  9. 9. PEOPLE. PERFORMANCE. PROFITABILITY. Sales Compensation In today’s business environment, where the requirements and expectations of your sales program are changing right before your eyes, the structure and design of your sales compensation program will clearly impact selling behavior. Continually reviewing your existing compensation program to ensure that its design supports your business development strategies is the responsibility of senior management as well as the sales manager. The structure of your plan will clearly impact your sales organization’s behavior. Recruit, Hire and Train The sales manager is responsible for executing a continuous recruiting program. The days of looking for experienced sales people with a book of business are over. As the complexity of purchasing decision processes intensifies and the role of the sales person changes, recruiting has also become more complex. Clearly defined job descriptions are essential and a recruiting process that reaches outside the confines of the industry is essential. The use of effective behavioral assessments such as the Harrison Assessment that will help predict a candidate’s suitability for the position is a must. The overall investment in hiring a new employee and the risks related to selecting the wrong person are extremely expensive. One of the best ways to attract talented sales professionals is to be able to demonstrate your company’s capability to provide training. The talent pool expands significantly when you offer well thought out and designed training and coaching programs. The candidates that have the right tools (i.e., technology competence, C-leveling selling skills, and prospecting capabilities) are searching for organizations that will assist them in growing professionally. Time and Technology Management In order to optimize the performance of your sales team, they must be held accountable for their time. How they spend their time and what percentage is spent on direct sales activities is critical. All too often sales people are focused on non-selling or administrative activities. They are often poorly organized and do not maintain the necessary account information to effectively market to their clients. If a primary role of your sales people is to prospect for new clients/ business then you must leverage client information through the use of technology. An effective software program that can support sales workflow, contact management, sales reporting and forecasting, marketing, client correspondence and expense reporting can have a dramatic impact on sales growth and profitability. So many of the sales management tools (i.e., call reports, expense reports, client correspondence, proposal writing) that have been in use for years can www.peakfocuscoach.com Peak Focus LLC © 2008-2012 • All rights reserved.Page 9 Unauthorized duplication in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
  10. 10. PEOPLE. PERFORMANCE. PROFITABILITY. now be handled via industry specific technology and the greatest bonus is that management has complete access to the data so they can hold their sales team accountable. As a final note, as you design your sales management system consider the capability of the sales manager. Prepare the job description, determine the eligibility requirements for the position and assess the suitability of the manager. The best designed system, with the best talent, will not produce great results without the right coach/manager in place. www.peakfocuscoach.com Peak Focus LLC © 2008-2012 • All rights reserved.Page 10 Unauthorized duplication in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
  11. 11. PEOPLE. PERFORMANCE. PROFITABILITY. About the AuthorJerry Scher - Founder and Principal at Peak Focus Jerry’s known by many names -- business builder, executive, conference speaker, trainer, facilitator, coach, mentor. Regardless of the title, the end result is the same -- making people around him significantly more successful. His ability to diagnose business issues and effectively communicate appropriate solutions, that can be acted upon quickly, truly differentiates him.About Peak Focus, LLCPeople. Performance. Profitability.Peak Focus gives you the tools to grow, develop and strengthen your team. With a mix of resources thatwe’ve created ourselves, as well as several powerful tools we’ve carefully assessed and believe in, wecombine our passion and experience to guide companies and individuals toward optimized performance.Select your team members with confidence, help your key players develop their soft skills, and learn howto coach your entire team more effectively by engaging the experts at Peak Focus.For more information and access to free resources, please visit our website at www.peakfocuscoach.comEngage With Us Free tools, resources & updates LIKE us on Facebook Check out our blog Follow us on Twitter Follow us on LinkedIn www.peakfocuscoach.com Peak Focus LLC © 2008-2012 • All rights reserved.Page 11 Unauthorized duplication in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.