Early in my career as a sales leader, I inherited a small sales team.
The team consisted of 12 individuals living and working in different parts of the country, with varying levels of experience and little to no training.
After being hired by the company President, their onboarding consisted of spending a few days at the head office to meet some of the people they'd be working with and learn the various processes they'd be using.
With the initial orientation out of the way, they spent a couple of days in the field with a more senior salesperson, then left to their own devices.
Sink or swim was the President's motto.
Sales achieved by the team were abysmal, with several individuals not having sold anything in over two years.
Amongst the team were a few top performers and a few who made no sales. The remainder of the team members had varying degrees of success.
In the subsequent 12 months, we took several steps to turn the team (and sales) around. I discuss these at length in my book The Unstoppable Sales Team.
The key steps were as follows:
1. Redeploy Poor Performers
After reviewing sales numbers and meeting and speaking with the various team members, it became evident who the poor performers were. Some were forthright about their inability to sell, whereas others seemed confident despite having made no sales.
Over the subsequent months, we found opportunities to redeploy several low performers to other more suited roles, such as inside sales. As these changes occurred, other low performers chose to depart the organization.
Dealing with poor performers is difficult but essential to building a strong sales team. If you fail to do this work quickly, you send a message that an inability to sell is okay… It's not.
2. Lean on Top Performers
I began leaning on top performers for their feedback, ideas, and assistance to accelerate learning. This served two purposes: engaging top performers for their expertise and accelerating team learning by tapping into internal best practices.
Although it might seem counterintuitive to take the time of top performers away from selling, most are eager to share their experience and knowledge with others.
3. Daily Sales Huddle
We introduced a daily sales huddle (DSH for short), allowing us to share daily updates, successes, and best practices.
The meeting was ten minutes and consisted of a brief update followed by an "around the room" format, calling out each member to share any updated information or seek answers to urgent questions.
As a sales leader, I didn't lead but instead contributed to these discussions to ensure messaging was consistent with team and corporate goals.
4. Sales Performance Baseline
As learning of the team progressed, it became evident what was achievable in sales numbers for both the high performers and those still learning.
This knowledge allowed for a realistic performance baseline regarding business development, pipeline activities, and customer management that was achievable on an individual and team level.
5.Building the Team
As we added more team members, it became clear that team fit was more important than skills or experience.
The goal wasn't to find another top performer but to find someone who fit well within the team, wanted to learn and grow and was receptive to coaching and adopting new skills.
Top performers participated in interviews to ensure we selected the best team members. Doing so helped to validate my choice of candidates, gave a greater sense of ownership to the top performers, and ensured the team adopted new hires were quickly adopted by the team.
6. Ring the Bell
One of the most straightforward changes we made was to share team wins with the entire organization. For every sale, an email was sent (by someone outside of the sales team) to identify the new customer and to give credit to the salesperson (and any others) who helped to seal the deal.
Top performers dominated these communications; however, it created a fire for other team members who began asking more questions, eager to learn how to hit sales levels that rivaled their peers.
There are other steps; however, these were the most crucial to the team's success.
We built a high-performing sales team, and customer acquisition grew by eight percent in the first 12 months, with sales following suit.
The real measure of success, however, was retention. Nearly five years later, the same team members were still with the company, continuing to grow sales.
© Shawn Casemore 2023. All Rights Reserved.
Shawn Casemore is a speaker, consultant, and author of the forthcoming Unstoppable Sales Machine (due out September 2020). To learn more, visit www.shawncasemore.com.
© Shawn Casemore 2022. All Rights Reserved.