Build a brilliant sales team by doing these four things

Written by: James White

I’ve built and run sales teams before, and no matter the environment, I always used these four practices on a regular basis. If you’ve got a sales team that works for you, then you need to do these four things to build a successful sales team that gets incredible results

I believe there are two key “Earns” and two key “Be’s” that you have to take into account when you’re building a sales team. Let’s take a look at the “earns”.

EARN THEIR LOYALTY

The best way to earn their loyalty is by getting to know your team member. Don’t just focus on their professional ambitions, but really try to understand them as human beings.

  • When you’re in the building, spend some time with your team and get to know them.
  • What is their background?
  • What’s their family situation?
  • What’s their personal situation like?

 

Be open and be intrigued by other people and what’s going on with them. All you need to do is ask.

  • “Tell me about your family”
  • “Tell me about your background”
  • “Tell me about your hobbies and what you enjoy doing”

 

When we really start to probe in those areas and show real interest in people, you’ll be amazed at the response you’ll get. They will feel like you actually care about them and that you don’t just want to manage them to get results; instead, you actually care about how they do.

Focus on being able to get to know them as human beings and loyalty will follow.

I recruited a sales team for one of my clients last year and the sales manager that came in and took over from me struggled to engage with the team because she didn’t focus on engaging and
understanding them. You can’t get someone to be an expert in sales if you don’t understand the dynamics of what is going on in their life. Whilst we don’t want to hear everything and be soft to
every challenge that goes on, we have to be realistic. If there is an issue going on, their work will be affected. If you know what’s going on, you may be in a better position to help them through it in the capacity you can.

EARN THEIR RESPECT

Man business leaders and sales leaders tell me “my team should respect me because I’m the sales manager”.

Respect doesn’t come from a title. The best way to get a sales team to respect you is for you to show them you can do what they do. You can pick up the phone, you can go to meetings, and you can make some of those targeted calls to prospects that you don’t know.

That always provokes a response of “WOW, I’ve seen James do those things and they’re getting results. Fairplay! I can try this now too”.

When building sales teams, I’ve always used the analogy that “it’s just not up to them to do that work, it’s up to me to lead from the front”.

I wouldn’t ask anyone to do something that I wouldn’t want or be able to do myself. When you start to lead from the front by:

  • not negotiating on price
  • making follow-up calls
  • doing the grunt work and updating the CRM

 

They’ll see that if the boss is doing it, then I should do it as well. You can’t just demand respect and expect people to work hard for you because you’re the manager. Earn their respect by showing them that you’re prepared to do the jobs that they need to do, as well as your management responsibility to look after them. Make sure that they can see you’re prepared to put the hard yards in. It gives them no excuse to not do it, and it makes them realize that to be successful, they’ve got to do some of that work to get the results everyone wants.

BE REALISTIC

I’ve had sales managers come to me and say, “you should make 200 calls in a day”. “Uh, 200 calls? Are you sure? I don’t think that’s realistic!”.

I’ve looked at a target that is triple what it was this time last year, or what it was last month. Management just assumed that I should just get on with it. It had the opposite effect – I took one look at it was demotivated. It was unrealistic and no one’s ever going to hit it.

Be careful! A feeling of “this isn’t going to work” will demotivate you sales team. Instead, be realistic. Have a little look at:

  • What they did last year or last month
  • The number of calls they made
  • The number of emails they sent
  • The updates they did

 

Use this evidence to say “how can we try and move that number forward?” or “how can we get {this} result?”.

You can also look at what’s going on in the marketplace to decide whether you want to make changes, but don’t just pull unreachable targets from thin air. If you’re unrealistic, it’s just going to break down your team and the loyalty you’ve worked to build with them.

BE PATIENT

Sales are one of those things that just takes time. I’ve not become the sales expert that I am right now from a few days ago or a few weeks ago, it’s taken me 30 odd years to learn my craft!

Be patient and accept that the team member you’re working with is going to go through challenges as they grow. Providing they’ve got some humility to be able to know when they’re wrong and they want to learn from it, then be patient with them. Show them where they can make changes to see improvements follow.

Understand that they’re going to go on a journey they’re not going to suddenly become this perfect salesperson overnight. Your support and help with mentoring are essential to their success.

If they want to develop their skills and learn from their mistakes, support them in any way you can and be patient with their results. Alex Ferguson was the greatest ever football manager of all time he would, but he would never have gotten as far as he could with Manchester United if he had been sacked in the first 12 months. He didn’t win many games in the first 12 months but literally, once he stayed in and got his team working, he then became their most successful manager.

Results take time, so be a bit patient, be realistic, and make sure you’re understanding their situation by earning their respect and their loyalty. Do this and you will be in a better position to lead a sales team of success.

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Publish date: 1 September 2022

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