Keys to Building High-Performing Sales Teams

Globalization, mergers, acquisitions, downsizing and bankruptcies have collectively turned our economy and traditional business models upside down. However, despite the churn, despite all of the complexities and changes that we have seen to our business ecosystem, there still exists one simple, basic business truth; “nothing happens until somebody sells something”.

The sales organization is the most important resource for any business, and your sales people are still the vital life-line to the customer. For any company that wants to achieve accelerated business growth and profits, building a high-performing sales team is absolutely crucial to that success.

In my opinion, there are several keys to building high-performing teams, whether in sales or any other functional area of the business.

  • Develop a clear, concise mission statement for the sales organization, and evangelize it.
  • Raise the bar on expectations, but make sure the goals are realistic, specific and measurable.
  • Empower your team and drive accountability closer to the customer; focus on outcomes and results versus activities and tasks.
  • Follow the “golden rule” principles when dealing with people and performance; the carrot works better than the stick.
  • Remain open to new ideas; foster a culture that encourages innovation, risk-taking, trust, and respect.
  • Link compensation, recognition and rewards programs directly to the business goals; celebrate wins, both large and small.
  • Communicate (more is better) and stay engaged with the customer and your team; don’t be a “drive by” manager.
  • Stay focused, and keep your sales people focused by minimizing “white noise” and other distractions.

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there”, and this is particularly true in a sales environment. So, be clear about the organization’s mission, your expectations and keep your sales people involved in all aspects of the sales and business planning to ensure clarity and “buy-in” at all levels.

If your goal is to become a leader within your industry, and in the eyes of your customers, then recognize that it is about more than just making the numbers. It’s also about building the competencies and skills of your sales people so they can consistently deliver value to the customer. Make sure your sales people understand this, too, and reinforce the commitment to their professional growth through coaching, mentoring and development.

Finally, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”. Get comfortable with the 10% that does not go as well as planned. It will make the 90% that does go well that much more enjoyable for everyone.

COPYRIGHT © 2010-11 John Carroll