Building a successful sales force is not easy. Most sales managers will tell you it involves three fundamental steps: Hire the best-qualified candidates; train them; and compensate for results.
But there is more to it than that. There are three additional steps that more savvy sales leaders know make the difference between a mediocre sales team, and one that consistently generates the deals needed to achieve revenue goals.
These three often-overlooked elements are critical to optimizing sales performance:
1. Deploying Sales Resources
2. Monitoring & Managing How Reps Spend Their Time
3. Coaching & Counseling
Let’s take a closer look:
Deploying sales resources:
Should the sales team be deployed by geographical territories? By vertical? This is how most organizations manage deployment—in large part because it’s easy. How can you assure the best salesperson is in front of the best prospect at the best time.
The most successful sales managers ask themselves: “Who has special knowledge of this prospect’s business?” “Who has a connection to that prospect’s CEO?” and “Who has the track record that can increase the likelihood of closing our largest deal this year?” These are the same sales managers who consistently meet their numbers.
Monitoring and managing how reps spend their time:
Not all prospects are created equal. That’s why it’s vital that team members prioritize the best opportunities—both near- and long-term. Sales managers need to provide guidance to their reps to be sure prospects continually move through the funnel—and that the pipeline contains the right mix of deal size and decision cycles.
In addition, managers need to be sure their reps are assigned a realistic number of accounts to work. This assures they’re effectively working their deals, they’re not spread too thin—and that good prospects doesn’t fall through the cracks.
Coaching and counseling:
What’s the difference between these two functions? Coaching involves a sales manager working with a rep who’s capable of doing the job but has knowledge gaps. Counseling on the other hand is what sales managers need to do with team members who have the knowledge to do the job but aren’t getting it done.
Coaching is time consuming and needs to be managed long-term. It’s a necessary process to help sales reps reach their full potential. Counseling on the other hand is a more finite process. If it works, great. If not, it’s time to find someone else. Sales managers need to approach counseling from the bottom up (working with the lowest-performers) to improve overall sales team success.
Laying the foundation—hiring, training and compensating—is fundamental to building a sales team. But it’s also vitally important to incorporate deployment, monitoring & managing, and coaching & counseling to keep performance levels high.