Strengthening the sales culture in a business should be a key goal for any company – it’s the engine of commerce and this is extremely important in the highly competitive IT sales arena. A successful sales culture starts with the right strategy, writes Mark Banfield, Chief Revenue Officer at LogicMonitor.
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. 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.
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.
Once you have the candidates that are suited to your business, it’s vital to provide them with specific training. A boot-camp environment is best for initial sales training. Create a core curriculum and follow it, with frequent tests involving presentations and roleplaying 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.
Training should not stop there – companies should also provide coaching for their teams. Real-time coaching should be treated as an absolute necessity in any organisation because it can help to maximise the performance of the sales team using training as well as sales tools and systems.
Create a motivational environment
A motivating environment is vital for the success of a sales team. Teams of five to six people are best, nestled into larger teams that are spearheaded by the ultimate player-coach combo. 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.
Effective motivators include goal setting, with 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.
Lead from the front
Developing teams and team leaders needs to be based on accountability. It is vital that team leaders communicate with their salespeople, so weekly team meetings are essential. In addition, a weekly 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.
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 feedback to their team members with the fear of offending or demotivating them. 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.
A final aspect is preparation. 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. 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 strategies detailed in this article, along with highly prepared salespeople, can prove to be essential if your business is to survive and thrive in today’s highly competitive environment.