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Building and Coaching An Elite High-Performance Sales Team: Where Does It Start?

30 Sep, 2015 By: Kim D Ward

I was reminded this week while facilitating a Sales Management Training course for one of our Fortune 500 clients that even after 20 years of change in business and sales management, some things have remained the same.

During one of the discussions, the members of a sales manager work group said, “We all want to build a highly productive, motivated, and synergized team. But all of our teams are in different conditions, so where do we start?”

Believe it or not this is a great question for any sales manager to ask, because by asking this question they have already taken the first step.

Most of the challenges and issues that sales managers must navigate and overcome would either be eliminated or improved with the help of an ‘Elite High-Performance Sales Team.’ Consider a few of the most common of sales management challenges:

  • Achieving ever increasing sales quotas
  • Tracking, analyzing, and strategizing selling activity
  • Managing customer issues, sales and satisfaction levels
  • Managing internal communications and interdepartmental cooperation
  • Navigating employee and team intrapersonal dynamics
  • Hiring, mentoring, coaching and developing sales talent
  • Managing strategic company projects as assigned
  • And for those who are selling sales managers… selling!

All of these challenges become less of an issue and easier to manage if you have an Elite-High Performance Sales Team. So as the manager work group asked, “Where do we start?”

3 steps to begin building an elite high-performance sales team

Step One – Assessment: The first step in building a high performing team is assessing your current team members for selling condition and improvement.

Begin constructing the foundation for your team by determining things like competency levels, motivation, attitude, behavior and team fit.

There are several methods of assessment commonly used but we recommend that these resources and applications be used in tandem for maximum effect.

Assessment opportunities like:

  • Competency testing
  • Personality and behavior profiling
  • Daily mentoring, strategizing, and coaching
  • Working alongside salespeople on the job
  • Weekly or bi-monthly one-on-one meetings
  • And for those who have attended our Sales Manager Training, quarterly mutual commitment meetings

Determining a salesperson’s current abilities by using a variety of assessment mechanisms will almost always provide the clearest picture of the salesperson, their current level of ability, and their fit with other team members.

If you are going to develop an elite high-performance team then you must assess the strengths and developmental needs of the team foundation, your salespeople.

Step Two – Planning: As you assess your team members you should be asking yourself, “Where are each of them now and where do I need them to go?” The basics of a team development plan are:

  • Identifying team member strengths and leveraging strengths for greater success
  • Assessing developmental needs and improvement plans
  • Gathering available resources for leveraging strengths and improving developmental needs
  • Determining early warning indicators and key performance indicators to assess whether salespeople are making progress

The best results commonly occur by plan. So creating a written outline for individual employee and team development is crucial if you want to develop an elite high-performance sales team.

Step Three – Execution: What sales managers need to remember as much or more than anything else about developing a team of this caliber, is that consistent and long-term execution is critical for success.

Because of the pace of selling and the sometimes overwhelming need for increased sales results, sales managers start thinking in terms of short time periods like daily, weekly and monthly cycles. Although this may be appropriate for creating immediate selling results, the recommended approach for individual and overall team development requires a long-term commitment.

The team condition didn’t get the way it is overnight and it won’t be improved overnight. The team will be improved over time!

Consider these possible team development assets for consistent execution and support:

  • Always work and make decisions in conjunction with your written team development plans. Make sure you know where you’re going and then stay the course by doing something every day that will take you to your chosen destination.
  • Share your plans with your boss. Leveraging your plans, actions, and commitments with your boss will synergize your commitments and efforts.
  • Utilize peer and outside resources. Some of your sales manager peers may have some wonderful best practices that could help you to achieve your goals more quickly. Read books or blogs which might help inspire and motivate you to continue your team development efforts. And, as many of our client managers have found to be true, there is also great value in utilizing an outsourced coaching hotline like ours to help answer questions, develop sales management strategy, and implement daily developmental work plans.

Obviously there are several other variables, implementations and assets which over time contribute to the development of an elite high performance sales team over time. But, if you start with these first three steps you will find yourself well on the way to success!

Author: Kim D. Ward is the Director of Training for Learning Outsource Group based in Ormond Beach, Florida. He has been involved in training and consulting within the office imaging industry since 1993. He is a nationally recognized speaker, facilitator, consultant, and coach and has personally worked with over 30,000 industry professionals, teaching such programs as Sales Management Leadership, Management Development, Advanced Sales Training, Selling Managed Print Services, and many others. Kim has worked extensively with a large number of industry OEM’s, IKON, Global Imaging Systems, Xerox, and over 800 independent office imaging dealers during the past 20 years. www.learningoutsourcegroup.com

About the Author: Kim D Ward

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