What to Look For in Your Sales Team

When interviewing someone for a job, we generally have a few key characteristics that, if found, would indicate the person will be successful with our company, right? But, how often do we look at our own sales teams with the same amount of examination?

What I’ve found over the years, whether it’s with Fortune 500 companies or smaller firms on the rise, is that there ARE some key characteristics of successful sales teams. You just need to know what they are, always be looking for them and provide guidance when some go missing. This video sums up what I’m talking about and I expand upon it more below:

Speaking in One Voice

“One voice” means presenting a consistent message that articulates your uniqueness in business. When business developers/consultants/salespeople are left to their own devices they will craft a message they are comfortable presenting.  This does not create resonance in the marketplace.

Resonance (Webster’s definition): the quality of sound that stays loud, clear and deep for a long time, a quality that makes something personally meaningful to someone.

Listening First, Selling Second

Sound familiar? That’s because I wrote previously about the importance of listening in any sales situation. Your team must master the art of listening with empathy…they have to feel the pain of their client and stay in it with them. But just hearing them is not enough.

Understanding Clients and Their Language

Each industry has it’s lingo…a dialect of acronyms, product specs, services, etc., that define it. Does your team know that language? That’s a good start. More importantly, though, is understanding the atmosphere and climate of each client’s industry. Your team needs to anticipate problems, foresee opportunities and be there with solutions before the competition. That takes work that is never finished…it’s an ongoing process.

Offering Solutions, Nice to Haves

A colleague of mine early in his career worked for a major consumer electronics chain. During the sales training process, he was tested on audio product features for a particular amplifier. One such feature was “Dual Illumination,” which gave the option of the display screen being lit in blue or orange. When asked during the test why a customer would want that feature, my colleague, not having a good answer, said “Why? Well…you just gotta have it!” If only it were so easy. Your sales team needs to offer solutions to real problems, not just “nice to haves” that aren’t mission critical. And if they don’t know if your service or product can provide a solution, then they need to do more homework. “You gotta have it!” isn’t going to work for them!

By they way…it didn’t work for my colleague either. He failed the test.

Using these four sales team characteristics as the basis, how does your team stack up? Let me know. -SG

Teach Your Children Well

Hear Ye, Hear Ye…Don’t wait until an executive MUST be coached, shape them early and well.

As a coach, I believe everyone is a candidate for executive coaching, from associates/managers to managing directors/vice presidents to “C” suite executives. Everyone can develop and transform their behavior to fully succeed and prosper in business. But if you wait until they “need” coaching, it could be too late. The longer an organization waits the potentially longer the transformation process may take.

The Good Get Better

Noticing an associate/manager with high potential and giving them the gift of coaching demonstrably affects their behavior and, in turn, your success in business. Your direct report grows and, as an organizational leader, you’ve shaped their ability to comport themselves as you desire.

Bringing in a coach gives you the opportunity to gain a different perspective. Through the coach’s trained eyes, you will understand HOW your direct reports approach their work, what their values are and what they say their developmental gaps are that are dear to them. It’s a lot of information they might never divulge to you.

Leaders Connect

Providing leadership coaching to your directs essentially strengthens your connection with them because of the investment you’ve made in their careers. The coaching covenant speaks volumes about your values as a leader, your commitment to high potential people and a collegial environment.

Get started today.

You Don’t Get a Free Pass

football-5-1186483-639x416In our instant access, instant disclosure world, it’s important to bear in mind that as a leader you don’t get a free pass on inappropriate behavior.

What you get is a write up in the National Inquirer that you lost your cool. Of course, I don’t mean this literally, I mean it figuratively. But the point is that you will have shone a light on your bad behavior and lots of people will notice.

Remember Tom Hanks’s famous line in the movie “A League Of Their Own”… “There’s no crying in baseball!” Well, there’s no aberrant behavior that come from emotions in business. Being emotional, and making rash decisions based on those emotions, gives you a scarlet letter you don’t need. It says to people you’re not as stable as they thought you were.

Practice Patience

An example of what I mean is making a personnel decision after being provoked to do so. Rumor disguised as information may come your way and you quickly react, thinking that that is what a good leader does. No, it isn’t.

To neutralize this behavior, it’s important to have forebearance, meaning having patient restraint when provoked. I often coach leaders to catch their emotional moments and substitute the emotion with foerbearance and an illustration of a higher level of groundedness than the issue merits.

Keep Your Cool to Win

Think of an NFL Quarterback. Those who lose their cool, who overreact to what’s happening instead of anticipating it, those who get flustered when things don’t go their way…well, you won’t see them in the Hall of Fame any time soon (or ever!). But those who maintain a steady composure, work the problem at hand instead of fretting about it and keep their emotions in check, you’re likely to see one or more championship rings on their fingers before their career winds down.

Act calmly and appropriately. Because remember…the Inquirer is always watching!

Restructuring Saves Lives

“I think the world of Jane but she seems to be in over her head. But, I’ve got to advance her division.”

These decisions are tough for many leaders. On one hand, you know, trust and enjoy working with Jane. On the other hand, over the past six months, her area has significantly declined in ROI. It’s time to sit down with Jane and find out her level of understanding regarding her, and her team’s, lack of performance along with determining what is important to her now.

Understanding the Pressure

People change. Business changes. Pressures remain.

It is essential to create an environment of empathy and curiosity regarding Jane’s situation. Have her detail her view. You should commit to listening without bias, without a predetermined agenda. Notice how she speaks about the issues, her degree of responsibility to them and her desire to cure them. Each of these three areas can be quite telling. She may reveal an awareness of the problems and a well thought-out plan to resolve them. However, she may be confused and frustrated, not understanding what’s going on or resigned to the problem with an air of defensiveness. At least now you know what you’re working with here!

Caring by Restructuring

One solution can be restructuring Jane’s area along with restructuring her. Determine an area where you believe Jane can make a difference and that will get her confidence back. This demonstration of YOUR loyalty to her could save her for a time. Look for others who can take on some of her responsibilities and/or assist her as she gets the department back on its feet. You get to hit the “reset” button with someone you believe in, and she gets a new lease on life. She’ll also see who on the team is there to help her and who is not. Throughout this time, though, create a formalized coaching plan for her. Meet with her regularly with specific metrics of success that you both create together.

Have a situation like this on your team? Tell me about it in the comments below. Thanks!


New Managers: How To Coach and Enjoy It!

Picking up from last week’s post about fitting in as a new manager, let’s look at ways to provide direction and shape a Direct’s behavior. Your organization believes you can develop and lead people. Do you believe it?

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