6 Tips for Driving Sales Team Success:
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
by Melissa Rogozinski, Chief Executive Officer
“Teamwork makes the dream work.”
It is a popular phrase we have all heard. When a team is working like a well-oiled machine, the power and passion and energy that it generates is unstoppable. It’s a glorious thing to see – and even more epic to be a part of that team!
However, when the parts of that machine slip out of alignment, it can create friction, instability and vulnerabilities. If the oil goes bad, team members may feel unsupported and become frustrated. And when certain parts need repair or replaced but are ignored, they can eventually break and send your race car off its track.
Which is why the popular phrase we have all heard, in its entirety, is actually this:
“Team work makes the dream work, but a vision becomes a nightmare when the leader has a big dream and a bad team.” John C. Maxwell
If you want a team that operates like a high-performing race car, then you must set them up for success. Here are six tips that have proven successful for the sales team at RPC Strategies:
1. Tighten Your Alignment. Before you can hire the right person, you must be the right company.
In the book, Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, the author sets out the Vision/Traction Organizer (V/TO) that will help you define your core values and culture. “Once they are clear, you’ll find they attract like-minded people to your organization. You will also find that when they are applied in your organization, they will weed out the people that don’t fit.”
Assess the resources you already have with the existing team and fill the gap with a salesperson who strengthens the whole. Do you need a seasoned sales veteran with an existing network to jump start sales and drive revenue? Or do you need a sales intern to provide support to a sales executive who can barely move the needle because they are buried in administrative and reporting tasks?
The right salesperson for the job will share your core values, bring energy to the culture and deliver results through their role.
2. Keep the Parts Moving With Good Oil. “Treat your salesperson like you would treat your most important customer—because s/he is!” Colleen Stanley, CEO of Sales Leadership, Inc.
The difference between being a sales manager who is supportive and available versus unsupportive and abusive makes or breaks the success of the sale team.
A few years ago, a young, rising sales star was assigned to a new sales manager who had no prior experience in management. The lateral-colleague-turned-manager immediately became competitive with the young sales rep and, for almost a year, verbally battered her and threatened her job on multiple occasions. Eventually, the sales rep turned in her notice. Thankfully, company management recognized the conflict and quickly made arrangements to keep the sales rep and assigned her to a more experienced and supportive sales manager. The former manager was later fired.
A supportive manager leads by example, and provides one-on-one coaching as needed. In addition to regularly scheduled sales team meetings, a sales manager should set individual check-in meetings with each member of the team. Recognize important milestones, give the sales rep a pat on the back for steps made forward on the path to a deal, and celebrate with the team when wins come in. This kind of encouragement is a much more productive way to inspire and motivate a sales team member than leading with threatening, shaming or condescending tactics, which destroys team morale and poisons company culture.
3. Charge the Battery With Cross-Training. Sales training should not be limited to the sales team. Cross-training with marketing and client success professionals delivers an exponential increase in lead generation.
In March 2015, I wrote an article that discussed sales and marketing success in eDiscovery, and what I wrote then still holds true today. Marketing teams are generally behind-the-scenes and rarely have the kind of face-time with buyers available to sales professionals. Have the members of your marketing team attend sales calls, demos, pitch presentations and project planning meetings with your sales reps. They’ll gain a deeper understanding of why clients do or don’t engage your company and be able to apply that to your marketing strategy.
Bring your marketing, sales and client success teammates together to collaboratively answer the following questions: (a) Who are the buyers? (b) What is most important to the buyers? (c) Where do we really fit into the buyers' process? (d) How do our products and services make the buyers' job easier? (e) How do we communicate effectively with the buyers? (f) How does sales need to work with buyers? (g) How does the client success team work with the buyers? (h) How does our team interact with each other internally? (i) How can we be a better team internally?
4. Fasten the Seatbelt. Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the World Wide Web once said, “It’s difficult to imagine the POWER that you’re going to have when so many different sorts of data are available.”
The first and most critical marketing tool at your disposal and control is your website. It is the window and inbound marketing channel for your business. The goal of inbound marketing is to generate new, targeted leads that the sales team can convert into revenue-generating customers. When not set up with proper content, SEO strategies, CTAs (calls-to-action) and user interface and experience design, buyers will have a difficult time finding you and won’t want to visit for long if they do.
Research indicates that only “2% of people actually convert to becoming a sale the first time they land on your webpage.” If you want more control over the conversion of inbound leads, then incorporating outbound marketing is the way to go. Inbound leads generated through webforms should feed directly into the CRM, which is then synched to campaigns to facilitate outbound marketing efforts.
In the article, 5 Technologies for Lead Generation, we recommended several technology applications that a business should have in order to achieve success with marketing and sales efforts. Be sure that all marketing tools (website, campaigns, social media) synch with CRM, so that all data collected for lead generation map appropriately to Contacts and Leads records. This ensures that your sales team has all information possible to help them follow up on targeted leads and start working the through the sales funnel.
5. Fuel Your Systems. Spoiler alert: This is “The Most Important (and Overlooked) Person on Your Sales Team.” (See upcoming “Lift Your Sales” article.)
It is probably inappropriate to say “I love my ops team,” but I do. I can’t live without them.
The marketing and sales operations specialists prefer to remain behind the scenes and are rarely client-facing, but they are, undoubtedly, the fuel filter in every successful sales team. They are highly technical and understand not only the individual tools for marketing and sales, but they also know how to integrate them in a manner that creates hyper-efficient automation and workflows. The end results are regular analytics reporting that provides clear indicators about what works, where improvements can be made and, most importantly, who the best leads are in the database.
6. Schedule Regular Tune Ups. All of these parts – the right company, a supportive sales manager, cross-training with marketing and client success, proper integration of tools and technology and marketing and sales operations specialists – must come together through structure, scheduling and systems.
Structure puts the right parts in the right place with the right equipment to build the machine, so it is secure and does not fall apart when in motion. Scheduling regular team meetings and trainings keeps the wheels in motion at a sustainable pace. Systems are integrations, automations and workflows that identify the best revenue-generating opportunities for the sales team.
You have the demand for your products and services, you understand the pain points of your buyers, and you have the personnel to make things happen. But these things alone aren’t enough. They have to be put together in the proper way to make things work. These 6 tips are the formula that turns your sales team into a winning race car, driving like lightning to victory lane.