Jul 18, 2007

How To Build A Successful Sales Team

If you're seeking ways to build your sales, it often starts with a team. My experience with enterprise sales teams at IBM/Lexmark, Businessland, EMC2, Data General, DecisionOne, and Instantis led me to an understanding of the key components of successful sales teams.

Here's the basics:

1. You must first know what you are selling.
2. Your sales team is MORE than your "sales" team.
3. Start your team with your goal in mind.
4. The players.

Okay, I can't blog all of this here, but I'll get to some of the points, then direct you to a couple of articles that will help explain my concepts.

1. First, you must know what you are selling. If you're selling an item that moves off the shelf in 15 minutes or less, you are hiring more of a retail salesperson. There are skills that comprise the retail salesperson such as "ability to build quick rapport, calm ability to help customers find what they need, and expand sales opportunities with either up sells or down sells" that all may be key to success in that type of salesperson.

On the contrary, someone selling complex services to an enterprise environment, such as much of my early career, is quite different. Those people need the "skills to build a sales territory plan, build account strategy, know how to get in past screening mechanisms like EMAIL, EXECUTIVE ADMINISTRATORS, and VOICEMAIL, how to discover and build complex solutions, building long-term customer relationships, and closing with preliminary proposals." Obviously, the first retail salesperson's skill-set might be different than the enterprise complex salesperson's skill-set.

So, evaluate what you are selling. If you are selling a product or a service, you might want to hire people with similar CONCEPT success. For example, a gentleman with no experience in technology sales only had success selling paint. The manager hires the salesperson, and assigned me to mentor him. The guy was a sponge! He copied everything I taught him and then some. I'm proud to say that he had tremendous success because of his experience with Rotary, Boy Scouts, and selling paint. And, maybe the mentoring helped, too! ;)

He also had two kids (debt motivation!) and looked sharp in a suit. So, don't always judge a book by it's cover. The thing was that despite only selling paint this guy could sell technical services because he (a) learned the questions to ask, (b) had drive and desire and genuinely liked people, (c) he understand SERVICE and the RELATIONSHIP PROCESS. Those concepts play well in a complex selling environment.

2. Your sales team is more than your "sales" team.

I've written a whole white paper on how organizations must map to other organizations. I describe this in quite a bit of detail on the AspireNow: Innovations In Business talk show entitled, "How To Build A Successful Sales Team" recorded today. Check it out at http://www.talkshoe.com/talkshoe/web/talkCast.jsp?masterId=37798&cmd=tc. You may also see a model that demonstrates how you need to map to customers in enterprise environments at http://www.arriive.com/sales_diamond_model.htm. The main thing is that your administrators, operations people, engineers, customer support, and managers may have BETTER opportunities to uncover new business challenges or potential client solutions than your SALES team! Why is that? Because people try to avoid telling salespeople things because they're afraid that the salesperson will pester them about it. The other people are not considered as risky to tell, because they're just a peer. That's why it is so important to engage your ENTIRE organization in Sales Methodology.

A personal example is when I sold to Tandem the first time, the deal came through the Alliances manager, who asked for my help. I said I could help him if I got credit for the deal. He agreed. That started the process towards signing a $2 Million dollar account.

Have you ever been treated rudely by a customer service agent and said, "we'll see if they get any more of MY business!" Or had an engineer give you some over-the-head techno-jumble that lost you in translation, to cause you to say, "I think I can take my business elsewhere!"

Well, if you have, then you recognize that a sale can be made (or lost, unfortunately) by people OTHER than the salesperson. So, build a diamond-map to your client to ensure better success.

3. Start your team with your goal in mind. I once had a manger who started every sales meeting with a slide that read "Sacramento is a MILLION DOLLAR SALES CENTER!" At the time he first showed it, Sacramento's numbers were right around $298,000, if I recall. What he was doing wasn't lying, it was STATING A PERCEPTION!

In order to reach your goal, you must first have a perception of how you will reach it, and that you are ABLE to reach that goal. No manager had succeeded prior to this manager at hitting $1 Million in one month. But Dick knew he could do it. If he just built a team, got the right players, and developed everyone to hit their quota, and with a little luck on some bigger deals with the State of California, he'd get there.

Sure enough, 9 months later, Dick's team hit $1 Million!! How cool is that? We had a great party and tons of fun water skiing to celebrate, too. The best boss I ever had understood that you must first begin with your goal in mind.

4. The players. Well, I've published a whole article on who the players ought to be on the team. You may find this at: http://www.aspirenow.com/Leader_0600_winning_sales_team.htm. There are players you must have for your team to be successful as a dynamic group. You can learn about that there.

Personally, I've always been a bit of a "Maverick," or peak-and-valley type of salesperson. I could have a huge month one month, then the next not as big. Until I sold timeshares. That was a different experience. I found out there that when I had a big month, if I rolled a deal into the next month it just continued to snowball my success. I had a good run for well over a year until the company changed management structure to a draconian system (against my principles: I left).

Last, the elements of a successful sales team ought to include the dynamics of SUCCESS. It ought to be FUN selling for your company. And, make sure you give your team SUPPORT so they're spending their time SELLING - not processing paperwork or doing menial order entry.

If you utilize these elements in building your team, you're bound to have more success. I've seen it used by other managers to tremendous success and used it myself to tremendous success in my own past.

No comments:

Post a Comment