How do you develop a strong sales team?

May 18, 2022 - min. read

Lots of companies have a hard time finding good sales talent

Even if their products and services are good, they still have to put a lot of time and energy into finding and screening the right candidates. They often also have a hard time keeping sales talents happy, resulting in high staff turnover and instability.

For other companies, however, success comes naturally. Or so it seems. These organisations also have good products or services (that’s the basis of everything), but they often have to make less effort to attract the right sales talents and keep them satisfied.

How do they do that? Find out below.

1. A clear narrative

Successful companies have a clear vision and a growth plan, and make sure that their salespeople also unanimously represent this vision. This guarantees a fresh and coherent narrative that can really get salespeople on board and keep them on board.

A strong, updated vision and growth plan are crucial for the growth of any organisation, so it’s important to continually bear this in mind and to permanently innovate. This also keeps your sales narrative fresh and relevant and helps you keep your salespeople motivated in the long run.

2. A clear DNA

“If you care for it, it will grow.” An aphorism that is so true!

Really successful companies treat hiring and shaping their sales teams as a top priority. These companies know their goals extremely well and the sales knowledge, skills and attitude required to achieve them.

Successful companies also have a clear DNA and they only hire salespeople who match that DNA and reinforce the team. They also work with their salespeople in a goal-oriented way to permanently challenge them, improve them and celebrate successes with them. That is true motivation.

I like to compare it to Bayern Munich. The top-flight German football team that is known for its no-nonsense policy and hard work. The team is led by level-headed ex-players, with input from thousands of members. The greatest talents come from the club’s own youth academy and other players are attracted and further developed in a smart, inexpensive way. Despite (or perhaps thanks to) its down-to-earth and thrifty policy, Bayern’s trophy cabinet is the envy of many top teams.

3. A clear recruitment strategy for salespeople

Smart companies are looking for complementary sales profiles. Some salespeople are better at opening leads, others are better at closing deals, while yet another group is better at relationship management. All these skills must be represented in your sales team, of course in function of your current business context and your short-term and long-term goals.

Successful companies also think further than today. They develop and maintain a warm network of salespeople who may be of interest to the company in the future. In this way, they are already sowing the seeds for a potential future partnership today.

4. A challenging application procedure

Salespeople have a massive impact on the results, operation and atmosphere in your organisation. In addition, they like challenges. So feel free to make sure the application procedure is carefully thought out and challenging, where candidates are evaluated by different people in a range of interviews and situations.

Do make sure, however, that the application procedure is clear and runs smoothly. Let your candidates know what they can expect and avoid making the procedure unnecessarily long and complex, especially when your organisation is still relatively small. Get the right people together in the right order and make sure you ask the right questions and use the right techniques.

Pay sufficient attention to their:

  • Sales track record: what results were (or were not) achieved in the past and why?
  • Communication skills: can the candidate listen, ask questions, summarise and connect in the right way? Can they speak clearly and inspire confidence?
  • Negotiating skills: can the candidate negotiate sharply and with respect, so that you both leave the table feeling positive?
  • Presentation skills: is the candidate able to talk without waffling, can they handle stress and are they able to adapt a presentation to the customer’s needs and circumstances?
  • Ambition and motivation: what drives your candidate and why exactly do they want to work in your team?
  • Coachability: is your candidate a lone wolf or do they work better in a team? Independence is good, but helpfulness is even better.

5. The sales department is seen as the engine driving the company

Salespeople are often portrayed as expensive luxuries. They are frequently away, so those left behind in the workplace can’t see what they’re doing. This often creates tensions in the workplace, resulting in friction.

Truly successful companies don’t see their sales team as an expense, they see it as the engine driving the company. After all, good salespeople generate cash, growth opportunities, attractive rewards, a positive vibe and serenity in the workplace.

Salespeople are also the face of the company. They’re in daily contact with customers and they know what’s going on in the market. Consequently, they also have a lot of information that could be valuable for R&D and other departments in the organisation.

If everyone is aware of this, it creates an atmosphere of trust in which everyone gets a sales mindset and lends the sales team a helping hand. This provides salespeople with more confidence and the energy to improve their performance, leading to even better results.

6. The importance of a good brand

It’s easier for strong brands to attract strong salespeople. The better and more willingly a salesperson can identify with a brand, the better they can sell it.

This also works in sales recruitment: the greater your brand awareness and the better your image in the market, the more chance that salespeople will come to you.

In this era of social media, employer branding is no longer an option, it’s a necessity. Your reputation is one of your company’s most important assets.

7. Clear individual and group targets

Successful companies define clear, carefully thought-out, ambitious and realistic targets for their salespeople. Ambitious salespeople work to get results, so the more accurately you can define what you want to achieve and when, the more motivated they’ll be to meet their targets.

The ideal target? Something JUST outside the comfort zone, which can only be achieved with some real work.

By defining group targets and bonuses in addition to individual targets, you also create a ‘we’ feeling. This will get your salespeople to help each other instead of working against each other. That can quickly lead to fireworks.

8. Salaries

“If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. If you pay too much, you get lazy monkeys.” Make sure you have a clear wage policy and bonus system in line with the market, but with enough dependence on sales results to ensure your sales talents are aware when they’re doing well or not so well.

Your salespeople need to feel that they are valued and that they have some control over their salaries.

9. Coaching and training

Successful companies also invest heavily in training and coaching. They keep their teams on the ball and give them continuous training on the latest sales methods. They also often exchange experiences and receive coaching from external experts.

Motivated salespeople must have an unending drive to constantly improve themselves. Real sales stars are genuinely interested in their craft and often read about it in their spare time.

You can never have too much motivation. With the right coaching, training and internal knowledge sharing, the entire organisation can benefit from this.

Are you ready to build a strong sales team?

Do you recognise your company in the profiling above? Great!

Are you not sure or could you use some help? Contact us. We’ll be glad to hear about your situation and provide assistance.