We asked Mark Banfield, Autotask's Senior VP & General Manager International, about the strategies that will help you strengthen sales culture in a business.
How can a company achieve a winning sales culture?
It’s important to define the attributes most important to your sales strategy and prioritise them. For example, willingness to be coached could be the most critical, followed by work ethic, adaptability to change and propensity to be highly prepared. Weigh these attributes and score each candidate based on your defined criteria. Have all interviewers test for these core skills and rank potential candidates according to their fit to your desired attributes. Importantly, don’t compromise on candidates who don’t fit. This process will help you consistently hire the right salespeople to work within your culture and get the job done for your customers.
Why is it important to strengthen your sales culture?
Strengthening your sales culture is crucial to long-term sustainability and business growth. Today’s fast-paced business environment requires salespeople who know how to consistently deliver a great experience that reinforces a customer-first mindset. Successful global brands recognise that the first step towards achieving a winning sales culture is building the right foundation. Offering a product or service is simply not enough—customers want to know that any company they partner with will help them maximise their investment.
With that, and given the high degree of competition in today’s IT provider market, creating a winning sales culture has become more important than ever.
How should newly recruited salespeople be trained?
An all-in, a boot-camp environment is best for initial sales training. Create a core curriculum and follow it, with frequent tests (presentations and role playing) followed by feedback. Not all will pass, but those who do should be lauded and celebrated. Those who don’t pass should be encouraged to take the tests again.
Now the team is on-board, how can a company implement a consistent sales process?
The process is likely to include research, prospecting, qualifying, demonstrating and closing. It’s important that everyone follows the same process and is tracked (i.e. using your CRM system), so you can identify problems and intervene through intensive coaching.
Can you provide any tips on how to develop teams and team leaders?
Developing teams and team leaders needs to be based on 100 per cent accountability. It is vital that team leaders communicate with their sales people, so weekly team meetings are essential. In addition, a monthly one to one meeting where goals are reviewed and new goals are set should be a prerequisite. As well as celebrating success with team members, always ensure you provide honest and constructive feedback on areas that need progress. Feedback should be customised and personal to each employee, as remember, every sales rep has a different learning style and way of doing things.
A team’s success is the leader’s success – so it is essential to create an honest, open and supportive environment where feedback is encouraged and acted upon. Often, leaders will be nervous to provide honest, and sometimes negative feedback to their team members with the fear of offending or demotivating them. So, it’s all in the delivery – if the feedback is provided in a constructive and encouraging way which empowers the sales rep, it’s likely to be received well, with the understanding that their progress in improvement will ultimately impact their success. Finally, sales leaders should ensure that their reps understand what they need to do to meet their goals, and clearly articulate the actions that need to be completed.
Should companies provide coaching for their sales teams?
Real-time coaching should be treated as an absolute necessity in any organisation. This can help to maximise the performance of the sales team by leveraging training, as mentioned above, as well as sales tools and systems.
Most importantly, how can a company create a motivational environment for its sales teams?
Teams of five to six people are best, nestled into larger teams that are spearheaded by the ultimate player coach. An experienced rep to help with major negotiations and a mentor who rides with reps can provide real-time coaching in the field. This team approach can allow you to scale the sales team and ensure every rep gets the attention required.
Motivators include goal setting, with it is self-set and shared objectives, and monthly and annual awards. Link your sales reps to everyday tasks which contribute to a bigger team goal; everyone wants to be part of something bigger and feel that their work and efforts matter and make a difference..
Other motivators include the sense of achievement from your sales reps. This will come from the improvements that they feel they are making which should be recognised and rewarded. In addition, leaders can motivate their more ambitious salespeople to further develop their career by demonstrating trust in their ability to take on more responsibilities.
One final consideration: preparation. Should this be priority for the sales team?
Absolutely. Salespeople are thought of as charismatic and hard-working, but time management is actually a salesperson’s greatest strength.
The preparation that must occur before a successful sales call is not to be overlooked. Top salespeople make this a priority. They also carefully document the calls and they execute the necessary follow-up to move a sales call to the next stage. And the best salespeople carefully track their own progress in terms of prospects, weekly and monthly opportunities and year-to-date numbers. They carefully plan each week based on what activities will get those numbers where they need to be—basing each day’s tasks on what needs to be accomplished by the end of the week.
The above-mentioned strategies along with highly prepared salespeople can prove to be essential if your business is to survive and thrive in today’s highly competitive environment.
Mark Banfield, Senior Vice President & General Manager International, Autotask
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