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Whether you’re a brand new sales rep, a sales leader, or an experienced seller, the key to success relies on your ability to build a championship sales team.
Will Richter drives revenue for medical device companies by increasing their sales volumes, reducing their operational inefficiencies and crushing their competition. He has the unique ability to find the blind spots in any company’s sales process and can turn around a growth plan of action and a winning team in less time bringing bottom-line results faster.
Will points to leadership and culture as the keys to building a championship sales team. Whether you’re a business owner, a CEO, or middle management, the culture gets dictated by the leadership. They set the tone for the culture and they define the expectations for everyone on the sales force. Those leaders also determine what will not be tolerated.
Once teams accept mediocrity, it becomes the norm.
When you’re a sales leader, you’ll either inherit a team or you may get the opportunity to take some educated risks and build a team. You must do a deep assessment of the team’s skills, its motivations, its past successes, and get to know the team members. Find out what makes them tick.
You cannot manage every member of your sales team the same way because they may have different motivators. If you don’t discover their motivators, you’ll struggle to create a championship kind of environment.
People and culture
People are the fabric of any great culture. If you’re at the top, you’ve got to reassess your talent base, and you’re probably going to have to let some of that go. Think about the culture you want to create. Then, seek out people who have the experience and the knowledge you want. If your sellers are strong and they have similar values, they’ll outlast someone who simply looks good on paper.
The average sales rep lasts about 18 months in any company. So if you bring a new seller on board, imagine the cost of onboarding plus the cost of training and the ramp-up time it takes for him to start earning money. Your company won’t likely make anything if he only stays for 18 months.
The worst part of the sales leader job results from having to let team members know that they aren’t a good fit for the team. In fact, the higher up you go, the more these people have on the line. They have families and wives and big mortgages and a lot to lose. Will reports feeling a lot of empathy for these folks.
At the same time, do not accept exceptions or excuses. Expect your team to have the same “win all the time” attitude that you have.
Will was hired to turn a sales team around in which only about half of the team members were strong. One gentleman who had been with the company for six years absolutely killed it his first year, but then he rested on his laurels. The company couldn’t fire him because people had tried in the past and it had become a political issue.
Will had to work closely with the guy, giving him a lot of feedback and working to coach him up. But Will’s says that people are either coachable or they aren’t. If you aren’t coachable, you’re cutting yourself off from professional development. This guy didn’t want to be coached, so Will put him on a 30-day plan. The guy got in his face and screamed at him and eventually, they were able to ask him to go.
Will likes to build relationships by getting to know his sellers as people. He asks about their families and their hometowns, and what makes them tick. Then he recommends being an open book yourself. Be transparent and real about your shortcomings.
As you coach your team members, speak factually. Leave the emotion and personal information out of the conversation. Stick to facts and data.
Highlight the fact that she has a quota, she has a territory, and she has a quantifiable history. Now, she has a certain amount of time to accomplish this other thing in order to avoid moving to a new set of consequences. Document everything. Factual information feels less personal and it’s easier to digest.
Create a profile for the kind of players you’d like to hire. How many do you need? What type of background do you want? Should they have a certain amount of experience? What kind of values are you seeking?
Whatever your criteria might be, create a profile and then create a world-class recruiting strategy and a strong hiring process.
Many companies place an ad on Indeed any time they need to hire a new seller. They sort through resumes, pick three, interview two, and hire one. It’s called reactive recruiting.
On the other hand, when you’re proactively sourcing candidates, begin by hiring a recruiter. Tell him exactly what you’re looking for and ask him to leverage his database to find candidates who meet your criteria. Have him call the candidates that meet your criteria and then screen them. Ensure that they are the top of the top before you ever sit down with them.
Determine what you want your hiring process to look like.
- How many interviews should their be?
- Who should they meet with?
- What kinds of questions should we be asking?
Once you’ve matched the values, make sure you don’t hire reps with massive egos. Implement these strategies, then onboard them properly and train them thoroughly. That’s the foundation of a championship sales team.
Once you’ve established your value system, you’ve put the right leadership in place, you’ve created the right culture, you’ve developed a good recruiting strategy, you’ve created your profiles, and you’ve built an excellent training program, then you must train your team on your product, as well as training them on superior sales skills for your market in your industry.
Your ultimate goal is to create a proactive sales management program that sets realistic but strong goals that hold the reps accountable. Recognize that your success is directly tied to your sellers’ success.
Will calls himself a big fan of military and their tactics. He finds that leading from the front demands leaders who are willing to be in the field. If all they do is sit in the office, they won’t know what the team is doing.
Sellers respect managers who get into the fight with them. After your presentations, talk with the seller about the call and the things that were great about it. Then address things that could have been done better.
We all feel good when we accomplish things. It makes us confident. Understand, though, that there’s a big difference between being busy and being productive.
Be mindful of managing the team’s time as well. What activities are they engaging in? Where are they going? Who are they calling? Are they making the best use of their time?
Young sellers often think they can cut corners. Approach-based management allows well-trained, talented sellers who engage in high activity levels to reach their goals. If they do the right things at the right times and the right places, they won’t struggle.
You want to be in a culture with people who share your same values. Hire the people that you can trust and respect, and who are competent and honest and hard-working.
We’ve all taken jobs where we didn’t know what to expect until we started working. Do a great job of smoking out the company’s values and culture.
If you can’t click with the existing employees, your time there will be short-lived.
“Build a Championship Sales Team” episode resources
You can connect with Will on LinkedIn. He’s happy to help sellers who are working to build a championship sales team.
You’ve heard us talk about the TSE Certified Sales Training Program, and we’re offering the first module free as a gift to you. Preview it. Check it out. If it makes sense for you to join, you can be part of our upcoming semester. You can take it on your own or as part of the semester group.
If you and your team are interested in learning more, we’d love to have you join us. Call (561) 578-1729 to speak directly to me or one of our team members about the program.
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