In “Building a High Performance Sales Team” we have covered the following steps: Creating a Crystal Clear Vision, Evaluating your Existing Team and Bringing New Players Onboard. Here then are the final two steps:
CREATING THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT
Are the company culture and environment hospitable to a high-performance sales team?
The right environment requires a properly designed compensation plan that is attractive to top performers, rewards the right activities and results, is challenging (but still achievable) and, above all, fair.
To attract and keep top-performers, the compensation structure has to be just right – give great weight to creating the best plan possible. Research your market, get input from your peers and discuss ideas with top-performers regarding what works best in their respective areas.
Since competitive and independent high-performers spend most of their time in a volatile marketplace they have to be part of a supportive team internally. How is the internal support staff viewing your sales team? Is there any evidence of the “we-they” syndrome? If so, it is imperative to find what causes it and eliminate these factors as quickly as possible. The marketplace is tough enough without internal battles.
To find out what works, and what doesn’t, interview existing staff. What do they like most about their job and their working environment? What do they like the least? What have they heard as reasons that people have left the company in the past? What seems to be preventing them and others from performing their best?
Very helpful of course would be to conduct exit interviews with those that are leaving the company. The knowledge you’ll gain will go a long way in improving the environment.
Feedback from your own team will produce the best list, but generally the environment that top-producers and top-performing teams are looking for has the following characteristics:
Productive, Positive, Rewarding, High Energy, Growth oriented, Collaborative, Learning culture, etc.
How does a high-performance team continue to operate at such a high level at all times? Ongoing development is the key, and a most important task for the sales leader. It is as challenging a practice as it is a rewarding one.
The trap sales leaders fall into, is to believe that a “good performer” does not need any guidance, input or additional improvement. Contrary to what some might think, high-performance sales teams and top performers do welcome a sales leader’s involvement. The different perspective of an interested observer (sales leader) serves to enhance their performance well beyond what they could do on their own.
The wholesale approach to development is just not good enough for this team though, so it is important to recognize individual needs.
The issues the sales leader has to deal with are quite diverse: refining processes to make it easier for the team to sell, strategizing on next steps needed to acquire or grow key accounts, arranging for training to overcome identifiable shortcomings, and dealing with conflicts are but a few.
The development effort entails setting clear expectations, monitoring results, providing feedback and, most importantly, working with individuals to clear obstacles and give them the tools or skills they need to continue succeeding.
It cannot be overstated how important the right amount of ongoing involvement from the sales leader can be for the team. It is a lot easier to manage an average performer or an average team. The issues are easier to resolve because the individuals involved most likely have not considered many of the options prior to getting to the sales leader. With top performers that is not the case, they have already considered and even tried the most obvious solutions… they are looking for advanced level collaboration.
Are the five steps we have covered challenging? Yes, but helping these individuals perform at their best turns a group of good sales people into a formidable high-performance sales team.
John Kypriotakis is the President of Lysis International,
a Tampa based Sales and Management consulting firm,
specializing in B2B Sales, Management and Leadership.
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