Do you have a culture of trust within your sales organization? Many companies, and managers within those companies, pride themselves on having an "open door policy." In other words, their employees can come to them at any time with work-related issues, and expect to be heard.
An open door policy is a great thing. And guess what? If your sales team is bringing up issues to you as the sales leader, that means the open door culture you've created is working. Because you've taken the lead in staying open to feedback, your team trusts you. They feel comfortable sharing their ideas, concerns, and issues with you — and hopefully with each other.
But here's the thing. You've got to do more than passively listen to your sales team's feedback. In order to build a trust culture, you have to actively listen. And then you have to act. If you fail to follow through, you may end up doing irreparable damage to your culture of collaboration — and to the trust you've built up with your employees.
Here are three basic steps you can follow to address issues that are important to your sales team in a decisive, empathetic and effective way.
1. Generate a Trust Culture by Creating a Space for Feedback
The best way to get feedback from your team is to ask for it. But it's not enough to simply ask. You have to demonstrate, over a period of time, that you're willing to really hear them out, and not take feedback or criticism personally.
In fact, the feedback you receive by simply asking could change your entire approach to team building, the workplace environment, and even your management style.
It's important to remember that your basic job as a sales manager is to help your team members become the best reps they can be. You're there to support them, mentor them, and even befriend them. When you prove to your team day in and day out that you're interested in them as people, they'll be much more willing to come to you with their issues.
2. Actively Listen to Understand
Once a team member comes to you with an issue he or she is having, it's time to really drill down to the core of the problem. Building a trust culture requires active listening.
We're not just talking about techniques like repeating your team member's statements back to him or her in your own words (although techniques like this are helpful). We're talking about making absolutely sure you understand what the issue is. Why is it affecting your rep? How does it impact your team as a whole?
Then, when you have a firm grasp on the issue, reassure your team member that you know where he or she is coming from. If you've faced a similar challenge in the past, perhaps you could mention that as well. And then it's time to transition to step #3...
3. Outline What You Plan to Do, and Follow Through
"Talk is cheap." "Actions speak louder than words." Pick any cliché you want. They're all true. If you truly want your sales rep to feel valued, highly motivated, and part of a team, then you need to clearly communicate what you're going to do about this issue.
You don't have to give out all the details. Just provide a basic outline of the next steps you plan to take. If at all possible, provide a rough timeline of when he or she can expect a resolution.
Obviously, the more mission-critical the issue is, the faster you should address it. However, don't let "minor issues" fall to the wayside. A minor issue may not be urgent on an organizational level, but it was still important enough to the rep that he or she approached you to talk about it. Not following through will damage the trust culture you've worked hard to build.
If you want your team to stay focused, to feel valued, and to give your company their best, then stick to this three-step process no matter how big or small the issue may be. For more insights on how to be the best sales manager you can be, be sure to sign up for our newsletter, contact us, or explore the valuable resources on our website.
Whether you're the leader of a sales team or a member of one, your sales task list is always long and a constant juggling act. There are leads to generate, opportunities to cultivate, contracts to write, customers to call back, trade shows to sign up for and sales meetings to attend.
Which tasks take precedence over the others? Is your day just a series of running from one urgent sales task to the next? A recent study found that two-thirds of a sales rep's time is spent on non-revenue generating tasks. That means it's essential for sales managers and the sales team to understand the difference between urgent and important sales tasks. Why? It directly affects your ability to generate revenue, the sole purpose of a rep's job. Here are some tips to help you make this distinction.
Urgent Sales Tasks Generate Revenue
For a sales manager or a member of a sales team, an urgent task is one that generates revenue. For example, writing up a final contract or returning the call of a client who wants to make a purchase are revenue-generating tasks, and therefore urgent. When you and your team review upcoming tasks, the first question should always be, does it generate revenue? When the answer is yes, it moves to the urgent column of your to-do list.
Managers Highlight Urgent Tasks
It's always a good idea to highlight urgent tasks in some way. If you're a sales manager with a whiteboard, dedicate a section to urgent tasks. Or, use a different color — maybe green, the color of money — marker for urgent tasks. You want your team to always know which tasks to concentrate their time and energy on.
Team Members Create a To-do List
When you're a member of a sales team, you have individual tasks that you're responsible for completing. Some of these tasks generate sales while others don't. Create a prioritized to-do list each morning or at the end of the day for the next.
Let your urgent tasks lead the list. As your day progresses, and you add tasks to the list, you need a way to indicate urgent sales tasks. Consider highlighting them or using an online to-do list where you can rearrange your priorities.
Urgent tasks are always the ones that generate revenue. Whether you're a sales manager or part of a team, you want your company to succeed. Making sales is the best way to grow a business.
What is an Important Sales Task?
An important task is a job that needs to get done in the near future, but it does not directly generate revenue. Whether you're a sales manager or a salesperson, there are administrative tasks that must get done. For example, an important task might include completing yearly performance reviews for your team or entering leads from the last trade show into the database. These are tasks that must get done in a timely manner to keep the company running smoothly. However, they don't directly generate revenue.
Focus on the Urgent without Neglecting the Important
As a sales manager, it's your goal to keep your team focused on urgent tasks without neglecting the important ones. Consider dedicating one hour a day to important tasks or maybe one afternoon each week.
If you're a member of a sales team and your manager doesn't dedicate time to important administrative tasks, find time that does not interfere with revenue-generating tasks to tackle the important jobs in your workflow. However, be careful not to allow an important sales task to slow any momentum your team has built throughout the day.
Create a To-Do List
There are important sales tasks that need to be completed each day, once a week or once a month. Create a daily, weekly and monthly to-do list, so you don't miss any important tasks.
Find a balance between completing urgent and important tasks that doesn't leave important tasks sitting for days, weeks or months unfinished. Similarly, as a sales manager, dedicate a specific time each day or week to these tasks.
What About the Gray Area?
There are some tasks that seem urgent, but don't generate revenue immediately. For example, cold calling leads has the potential to generate revenue, but it isn't guaranteed. Of course, you have to develop leads to increase your customer base and generate greater revenue for your company. However, does it fall under the urgent and important task list? It's actually the gray area in between the two. Make time for these tasks as well.
Managers Help the Team Prioritize
As a sales manager, it's your job to help your team make the most of their time. You wouldn't want gray area tasks placed ahead of urgent tasks. However, you don't want your team working on important administrative duties while a batch of gray area tasks waits. Find the gray area tasks a spot at the bottom of your urgent to-do list, ahead of the important items.
Sales teams want to generate as much revenue as possible for the company, especially if they work on commission. Complete all your urgent tasks first. Then, devote some time to gray area tasks that have the potential to generate income, even if it isn't in the immediate future.
Create a Routine
Put these gray area tasks on your to-do list somewhere between urgent and important. Work on these tasks without completely ignoring your important administrative tasks. Creating consistency in your daily and weekly tasks will benefit you and your team. Sales team members thrive with a level of consistency and routine.
Ask for Input
Trust your team. They likely have many years of experience in prioritizing tasks. No doubt, they will offer solutions to help incorporate important tasks without losing momentum on urgent ones. Encourage your team to come and discuss the possibilities with you. When you put a co-created plan in place, it helps you achieve the team's goals with support and accountability.
Get more tips, tricks and insights on identifying urgent and important tasks, and the evolving sales environment. Sign up for our newsletter or visit our website for webinars and other valuable business resources. Contact us any time!
Are you celebrating each sale your team brings in? If not, you're missing an opportunity to motivate your sales team to even greater achievements. In the past, sales managers installed an actual bell in their department. Each time a sale was made made, the manager rang the bell to celebrate and ensure that every team member knew.
Sales people are competitive by nature. Ringing a bell in their honor is a challenge worth striving for. Consider adding a little friendly competition (and motivation) to your team by ringing a bell. Okay, it doesn't need to be an actual bell, but it does need to celebrate the win.
You might consider ringing the bell through a team broadcast email, group text or slack. If you're in an office setting, an actual bell might be appropriate. Whether you opt for a literal or figurative bell, here are five reasons why ringing the bell is essential for your sales team's motivation.
Create a Strong Sales Culture
The culture of an office or department defines the group's goals and priorities. You know your priority is sales, but it's always beneficial to reinforce that in your culture. By celebrating every sale with a ringing of the bell, you put a unique spin on your own sales culture. A stronger sales culture drives your team to make more sales and to become more proactive.
A stronger sales culture can be achieved in a variety of ways, including bonuses, weekly and monthly goals, and supporting and strengthening the sales team. By adding a ringing of the bell, you strengthen the team without spending a lot of money or energy. Even without a monetary bonus attached, people like to be acknowledged for their accomplishments. It inspires both the recognized individual and those around them to work harder. A strong sales culture translates into increased profit and growth.
Drive Individual and Team Performance
It doesn't cost anything to ring the bell for an employee, unless you pay to have a bell installed in your department. Even then, it isn't that much. However, you get so much goodwill in exchange for this small act of recognition. While you might be considering a large and expensive reward system for your sales team, starting with t-shirts and ending with a trip, you can save money and create positive energy and momentum by simply ringing the bell.
You like to be recognized for a job well done and so does your sales team. As you ring the bell and recognize one salesperson, the others will see this recognition and strive harder to earn it for themselves. This small act can help drive the improved performance of your entire staff with very little effort or expense on your part. Isn't that the goal?
Show Your Sales Team that Their Efforts are Valued
Even in small companies, it can be hard for an individual employee or team to know that they are valued and appreciated by those above them. Your sales team works hard, and many of them probably wonder if anyone ever notices. Ringing the bell shows immediately that you and the company value and appreciate their efforts.
While blasting an email, ringing a bell or shouting out on a group text might seem like a small, easy-to-do thing, one of your salespeople might really need to feel appreciated and valued. You want all your sales staff to feel this way because this feeling fuels their abilities to go out and make more sales. People who feel valued are more productive and successful than those who feel marginalized within a company of any size.
Create a Sense of Self-Worth
Yes, everyone would like to believe what others think of them isn't that important, but it's typically not the case. Sales teams flourish under compliments and other recognition of their hard work. This is because it helps create a sense of self-worth. You spend a lot of time at work. In many ways, your job helps define who you are as a person.
When someone recognizes that you're doing a good job and celebrates your successes, it helps to raise your confidence and self-worth. As a team leader or department manager, your opinion matters to your sales team, and a little recognition and bell ringing can be a wonderful and positive thing.
It might seem a little awkward when you first start recognizing every sale. Over time, however, you'll really begin to enjoy celebrating with your sales team. Helping someone else feel better about themselves is a reward that you can enjoy too. You can also watch as that person becomes more confident and productive.
Allow Momentum to Generate More Momentum
When someone makes a sale, it shows that the team has built up some momentum. By ringing the bell, you encourage your sales staff to use its current momentum to create more. You want your team to be similar to a ball rolling down a hill, picking up speed as it goes.
Momentum drives sales and makes your team successful. You don't want to do anything that might halt or slow the momentum. By recognizing and praising success, it encourages your staff to continue working hard for their next sales.
As a manager, you're always looking for ways to motivate your sales force and increase profits. You may need to go old school and begin ringing the bell to motivate your team. Show them they're appreciated, and help build momentum. You can send an email blast or group text so each member of your team knows about a sale and understands that you and the company appreciate their hard work. A little "Woo-Hoo" can go a long way!
For more tips, tricks and insights on videoconferencing and the evolving sales environment, sign up for our newsletter or visit our website for webinars and other valuable business resources.
Did you know it takes an average of 18 calls before a salesperson connects with their lead? Multiply that by every lead in the salesperson's funnel, and that's a gigantic amount of time spent chasing down sales. Yet, there's often a perception among company leadership that salespeople have it easy. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If your company doesn't properly value or take the time to understand its sales team, it can affect every facet of your business. Fostering a sales-positive culture helps you obtain long-term success.
The Benefit of a Sales-Positive Culture
Success begins with understanding, and understanding comes from the top down. Your company's leadership must set an example by demonstrating respect, appreciation and insight as to how their sales reps operate.
It's easy to see how misconceptions are born. For those who've never been a salesperson, speaking to clients seems like a soft skill, chatting and schmoozing followed by a lot of downtime. In reality, the sales rep spends only about 30% of their time talking directly with clients. The rest of that time is spent on administrative tasks like scheduling, paperwork and training.
Still, the misconception persists: that no one really understands what sales does, that sales seems easy, and that if the company needs more revenue, sales just needs to sell better or call more people to increase it. Unless your leadership takes measures to stop the anti-sales attitude from taking root, your company's morale and profitability could be in serious trouble.
10 Things Leadership Needs to Know About Its Sales People
It's a more effective strategy to build a bridge than it is a fence. Keeping your company's individual departments synchronized boosts morale and overall prosperity. After years of interacting with professional salespeople, these are the most essential things every salesperson wishes their CEO knew about them.
Your sales department is the driving force behind your revenue and prosperity, but they're often misunderstood by fellow employees and company leadership. It's important to view your sales team as essential and look for ways to enfranchise them. It's always better to build a bridge than it is a fence.
For more SMB advice and insights, sign up for our newsletter, or visit our website for webinars and other valuable business resources.
An experienced, well-equipped and determined sales team can lead any business to success. The problem many companies face is that they have poor sales team performance.
In many cases, it doesn't have to do with experience or determination. The reason lies in the lack of understanding, empowerment and engagement.
Today, 75% of companies say that closing more deals is their top priority. If you are among them, showing trust and giving the necessary tools to your team can give your business a giant push forward. Consider these five ways to improve sales team performance.
1. Learn More About Your Sales Team
Being a sales rep isn't a profession. It's a calling. To be successful, these experts need to feel the buyers' pain points and offer suitable solutions, while guiding them down the sales funnel. All that requires determination, passion and hard work.
Unfortunately, many business owners don't understand the variety of challenges these sales professionals face. From that comes a lack of respect and encouragement, resulting in poor sales team performance. That's one of the reasons for a high sales rep turnover rate, compared to other industries (35% vs 13%).
If you feel unhappy with your team's sales performance, start by learning more about your team. As you work on your involvement, you can uncover various factors to help improve the team's performance.
2. Increase Sales Performance by Encourage Strengths
All sales reps have certain professional strengths and weaknesses. When you want an employee to increase sales performance, focusing attention on their weaknesses is counterproductive.
According to Gallup, building on employee's strengths is much more effective than trying to improve on their weaknesses. It's up to the employer to create a work environment to cultivate the sales rep's strengths.
A supervisor's understanding of his/her reps' strengths has an impressive effect on the company's bottom line because managers play a crucial role in maximizing employee output. You can empower the sales rep to discover and develop their strengths. Once you do that, adjust their role to exploit these strengths fully.
3. Support Teamwork
To boost sales team performance, sales reps need to come together as a united group. This could be problematic for experts, who are used to working alone. As you get to know each team member's strengths and weaknesses, you can figure out the best way to bring these people together.
4. Ask For Feedback...And Listen To It
The best way to discover a problem in the workplace is to ask. If your team isn't performing as well as you expect, ask your sales rep why they think it's happening.
The information you can acquire simply by asking could change your entire approach to team building, workplace environment and much more.
Don't hesitate to ask your sales team for ideas. They may already know how to solve the problem. Listening to your employees and trusting their professional opinion could help you achieve many business goals in addition to improving sales team performance.
5. Promote Engagement And Involvement
One of the top reasons why employees are unhappy with their work is the lack of meaning. When sales reps don't see a meaning in what they do, their performance suffers.
Employee disengagement costs the U.S. more than $550 billion a year in lost productivity. Even when scaled down to one company, the losses could be devastating. To increase engagement, employees should be invested in the company's mission, vision, value and goals.
It's up to the leader to show the sales team why its work is highly meaningful to the company. You should help sales reps understand that the work they do contributes to the company's success directly.
Start Improving Sales Team Performance Today
The success of your sales team doesn't just depend on its professionalism and experience. A big part stems from your attitude.
By getting to know your team better, encouraging its strengths, improving the workplace environment and promoting engagement, you can improve the sales team's performance tremendously. Work with your sales team as much as you can. Such an effort can bring an impressive ROI.
For more information about improving your sales team performance and other important tips, please sign up for our weekly newsletter.
What Is Your Client Really Buying From You? How to Create a Winning Value Statement - with Examples & Templates
You know that a strong value statement is crucial effective sales management, and ultimately for your company to thrive. It’s that power statement — those magic words — that tell your client that you understand their problem and have the perfect solution at the ready.
Though value statements are often brief, the process of getting to those precise, honed words can be anything but. So, here are some hacks and examples to help you write your own winning value statement.
Questions to Answer with Your Team
Before you put word one down on the page, you want to make sure you have these five questions answered with your team:
Putting it all Together: Examples + Templates
Now that you have all the elements, you want to put them together in a way that’s attractive, easy to process and memorable. Here are some hacks for doing just that.
Write one powerful sentence.
The most straightforward way to build your value statement is to connect your client and their challenge to your services and benefits in one, clear sentence. In Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers, Geoff Moore suggests using the following template to do just that:
Compare your service to something your client already knows.If you can find a way to compare your service to another well-known product in another industry, you’ve found a shortcut to conveying your value proposition. By relying on your audience’s knowledge of the familiar product, you can quickly say a lot about what you offer.
Focus on who and how you help.Steven Blank’s suggestion for cutting through the noise is to frame your value proposition in a way people will easily understand. He suggests focusing on who and how you can help.
Nail your elevator pitch.Building off of Dave McClure’s How to Pitch a VC presentation, which encourages businesses to focus on short, simple, memorable keywords or phrases, use this simple template to define the elevator-pitch version of your value proposition.
Challenge yourself to be brief.Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write an entire story using no more than six words. Since then, many writers have similarly tried to pack an entire story into as few words as possible. Can you convey the value you provide in six words or less?
Want more templates? Check out our Value Messaging Worksheet.
Looking for more on how to grow faster? Check out 10 Sales Tactics CEAVCO Audio Visual Used to Generate $2 Million in New Revenue.
Ever wonder what your prospect’s real challenges are, or what they are really looking to solve? What’s on the surface is not always the full story. By creating a 360-degree view of their challenges you can be more competitive and solution sell even more effectively. In this Whiteboard Video we share a framework we teach our clients to get to the real challenges quickly and brainstorm effective solutions as a team.
Want more tools to support your own ideation process? Download the Ideation Worksheet and use it to implement the process with your team.
Many sales leaders looking for ways to reach their revenue goals faster will say something like:
We need a team that closes more sales.
We need more leads in our sales funnel.
We need to convert more leads into customers.
We need to run better ads.
This way of thinking is a trap.
It’s an easy one to fall into. You look at your team, your funnel, or your outreach and see that they aren’t working the way you’d like. You immediately want to fix them.
But, as long as you’re working to solve your sales organization’s systemic problems by focusing on symptoms instead of the underlying problem, your company will remain stuck.
Imagine you’re building a house. Your screwdrivers and nails keep rolling off your work table. You discover your floor is uneven. You have several options to fix this issue. 1) You can put your tools in a container that stays put on the table; 2) You can prop up your table legs with a book to counterbalance a slant; or 3) Instead of creating a makeshift solution, repair the very foundation of your house, so that the floor is level.
Similarly, to fix your sales funnel, you need to repair your foundation. Here are some questions to ask yourself and your team to begin this inspection.
If you put the time and energy into thoughtfully answering these seven questions, you won’t just temporarily repair your sales funnel — you’ll create an adaptable sales organization that will engage your audience, build crucial relationships and boost your revenue.
Ready to get started on creating a high-performing sales engine that drives scalable, stable and predictable revenue growth? Check out our article on defining your value, or take the sales engine diagnostic.
Good advice isn’t designed to make you feel better. "It’s designed to make you better," says author, entrepreneur, marketer and public speaker Seth Godin. If you’re reading this, it means you want to learn how to boost your sales team's growth.
Maybe you want to see your team embrace a stronger sense of camaraderie. Or, perhaps you want your salespeople to set realistic goals quarter after quarter — and reach them. Sometimes you may need to address negative behavior head on.
Most managers and CEOs don’t enjoy giving feedback. But when you ground feedback in strategic understanding, root it in constructive honesty, and use it to promote individual and collective growth, feedback creates a profound moment of vulnerability between you and your team. This can be a catalyst to elevate your team from good to great.
Here’s how to boost your sales team's growth.
Focus on Your Organization First
Giving feedback to individual employees without first taking deep stock of organizational health is like having your doctor only examine your liver during your annual check-up. You’ll get a really great picture into one small aspect of your health. But, that information will be partial at best and deadly at worst without a clear understanding of the bigger picture.
In the same way, all the following advice will fall flat — or worse, give a false sense of progress — if your feedback strategy isn’t grounded in a deep understanding of your organizational strengths and challenges.
Tailor Feedback to the Individual
Feedback isn’t one-size-fits-all. One employee may need you to include a lot of actionable ways they can improve while another may work better if you let them work out solutions on their own. Some may prefer a lot of praise and recognition before any feedback, while others may need direct problem-solving conversations.
Before you start revamping your feedback strategy, explore what kind of feedback is best for each team member's sales growth. Consider implementing personality or strengths assessments. Pay attention to what feedback strategies yield the best results for each of your employees. And, as you read the rest of this article, reflect on how each of the suggestions may be implemented differently to best serve each person.
Lead with Questions
Think about the different meanings of feedback. When there’s something wrong with the way a sound system is set up, everyone within earshot may hear the telltale whine of feedback. And often, it takes someone with a view of the entire system to locate the reason for the offending noise.
In the same way, your employees will likely know something needs to be improved. They can hear the urgent sound, like an alarm, telling them that things aren’t operating smoothly. But, they need your system-wide view to help them locate the problem and fix it. And just as a sound engineer may need to examine an individual amp or microphone, you need to ask an employee the right questions to fix the problem.
When you begin a feedback session, start with curiosity. Find out your sales team’s or salesperson’s thoughts, then explore the overlap between their challenges and the feedback you’re providing.
Be Honest, But Not Too Honest
When a leader isn’t honest with their sales team, it’s pretty obvious. It may manifest as passive aggressive comments that avoid naming necessary changes. Or, a leader may scapegoat all problems on an individual instead of looking at ways to make systemic change.
It’s important to be honest with your team. It shows vulnerability and breeds trust. However, being honest doesn’t mean being harsh or shutting down conversations. You want to boost your sales team's growth, and judgment and negativity won’t get them there.
Out of anger, you may feel like telling Dan, a new sales team member, that he ruined a potential client relationship for good by not being prepared for his presentation. Even if it’s true, that feedback won’t inspire him to make changes. Most likely, it will make him feel unproductive.
Instead, shape your feedback using the previous items on this least. Consider if there are any organizational issues that may have made it difficult for Dan to do his best. Explore what kind of feedback will be most meaningful to Dan. Ask him for his thoughts and rationale on the presentation, and see how you can become better aligned in the future.
Focus on Forgiveness
Even though you know intellectually that erring is human, when the health of your business is on the line, it’s hard not to expect perfection. Holding a grudge because of a mistake a team member makes, though, can breed a negativity that infects the team. Not truly forgiving an employee leaves them vulnerable to future punishment — something that doesn’t inspire a sales team to improve.
Instead of dwelling on mistakes, you get the divine role of forgiving. Make it part of the feedback process. Kim Cameron, from the University of Michigan, notes that "a culture of forgiveness in organizations leads to increased employee productivity and less voluntary turnover." That creates a company culture that breeds trust.
Increase Your Sales Team's Growth by Evaluating Yourself
When a team leader doesn’t look at how they can improve themselves, it makes it difficult for team members to follow suit. If you aren’t honest about your own performance, it causes blind spots that don’t allow you to lead your team effectively. When those blind spots are around leadership and the behavior you model for your team, the problems you’re hiding from can spread quickly and stifle your sales team's growth.
So as you’re doling out feedback, don’t forget about yourself. Ultimately, it’s your job to drive company growth, and asking for feedback yourself makes you a more effective leader.
In the Dan example, you could end with a question: “Do you have any feedback for me as a leader? Is there anything I can do to help you be more prepared in the future?”
Make it a habit to ask your sales team for advice on how you can be a better leader for them. Listen to their ideas and take action on them. When your sales team sees you consistently improving and making an effort to grow with them, it sets a foundation for a team that trusts one another.
If you want your team to grow, start with giving individualized feedback. While it’s not always enjoyable to deal with a team that isn’t performing, addressing what needs to change is the first step in creating the success you want to see.
How do you create the most effective feedback for your team? Let us know in the comments below. Read more about boosting your sales team's growth by developing a positive culture in this recent blog.
Trust is one of the most important attributes of any high-performing sales team. Just ask Jeremy Bloom, a former Olympian and pro football player who is now a tech CEO. He wrote in Entrepreneur, “I’ve been on losing teams and high-performing ones both in the NFL and in the business world, and the common thread of success is trust.”
Trust isn’t quantifiable, and cultivating it takes some work. Many strategies exist to help you create a welcoming company culture and build trust within your sales team. Here are five strategies you can implement starting now.
Build Trust by Fostering Real Connections
Teams that trust each other accomplish great things. Think about any Super Bowl champions. Not only do they work together every day, but they spend time with each other’s families, eat dinner together and celebrate wins (and losses) together. Many remain friends for years, even as they move on to different teams.
Your sales team is no different. The stronger the relationships between your sales team members, the stronger the trust — and the stronger your company.
Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last, reinforces this message: “A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people that trust each other.”
Make it a priority to gather your team for meaningful interactions outside of meetings. Donate to their kids fundraisers. Sponsor an employee in a cause they believe in, or give them a bottle of wine to celebrate their parents’ birthday. Show commitment to both the individual and the team to build authentic trust.
Nix the Judgment
Just as real connections lift a team up, judgment tears it down. This kind of negativity seeps into any team if it’s not addressed.
Rich Karlgaard, author of The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success, says that "mocking irony, snark and cynicism can be compelling, but they’re toxic to your company’s culture."
Don’t let criticism get the best of your team. Instead, address any negative behavior over time. One-on-one meetings work well for individuals. Then, hold team-wide meetings if necessary to solidify the message.
Model the behavior you want to see in your team. Your actions and words serve as a blueprint for your team’s behavior. So, model the behavior you want to see in them. By walking the walk, you’ll create lasting patterns and cement positive team culture that will build trust.
Create a Safe Space Within Your Meetings
If members of your team are afraid to open up or feel they can never perform at high levels, it inhibits them and stifles trust building. They may clam up at meetings or become your echo, rotely agreeing with all of your input. If you really want to know what your team thinks, you need to create a safe space for them to tell you the truth.
Creating a supportive environment is tricky to do. Individual team member's egos, pressure to hit numbers and interpersonal differences are formidable opponents. Building a strong foundation of trust and transparency takes time and hard work.
There’s no magic bullet to make teams feel secure enough in their positions to share what drives them and what stands in their way. However, a good way to start is to model the behavior you want to see in your team. By being accountable to your team and honest about your own missteps, you can inspire the transparency and vulnerability that’s integral to a team that builds trust in each other.
Encourage Positive, Strategic Feedback
Too often, feedback is seen as sharing employee pitfalls. This negative perspective can make employees avoid seeking input on their performance, hide perceived failures and miss their goals.
You can be honest without bringing your team down. Frame missteps, errors and losses in a positive light, as opportunities for learning. This encourages deeper trust and allows your team to grow and evolve.
Further, to break the association between feedback and finger pointing, tie feedback to larger strategic goals. This also strengthens a sense of team responsibility and contextualizes individual challenges within the organization’s greater mission. I discuss more about giving honest feedback in this recent blog.
Let Transparency Lead the Way
If sharing positive feedback or creating a safe space doesn’t come easily for your sales team, it may be because you aren’t modeling true transparency.
Lack of clarity about foundational aspects of your organization — from your vision to what value you provide your customers — can thwart attempts to lead with transparency. You can share your thoughts, personal insights and experiences openly, but if your team isn’t aligned on company culture and sales culture, these attempts are going to fall short.
Ground any efforts for greater transparency in total alignment on your organizational building blocks. Only then can you achieve the openness that naturally builds trust — and a path towards a healthy, aligned company culture that runs toward the same goal.
Adopting the strategies above will help you create a culture that builds trust. By developing real connections, creating safe spaces and developing alignment and transparency, you and your team can reach your goals.
How do you build trust within your team? Leave comments below.
One of the most powerful ways to gain clarity into your strengths and to grow faster is to define how you create value for your clients.
Check out the video above as Karl Becker from The Carruthers Group describes the importance of aligning your sales organization around your defined value.
How would your sales team talk to a prospect about your brand? Would they all use the same words to describe it? When they dig into who you are and what you do, do they share a common language?
Check out the video above as Karl Becker from The Carruthers Group describes a simple, but powerful exercise to find out if your sales team aligns around your brand value.
In a prior article, we covered 7 symptoms of a poorly performing sales organization. If any of those symptoms sound familiar, you might think that all you need to do to turn your sales engine around is to hire a new VP of sales. But that may not help. If fact, it could make things worse.
Here are 5 reasons why hiring a new VP won’t fix your sales funnel — and what you should do instead.
Your Problems are Deeper Than a Single Person
A VP of sales can be great at managing a team and terrific at sales. But, no matter how great, they can’t transform an organization all on their own. Just as the best driver in the world can’t drive a car without wheels, the best hire can’t lead a team without a foundation.
Don’t expect your VP of sales to perform miracles on your organization. Instead, focus on the deeper changes necessary to achieve your desired results. Think about what issues led you to want to hire someone new in the first place and work backward from there.
Your Problems are Broader Than a Single Person
A sales executive didn’t get there by chance. They are fantastic communicators and know how to orchestrate a team with many moving parts. But just as a single person doesn’t cause organizational problems, a single person can’t solve all of them either.
Take a look at your VP job description. Is it realistic for one person? Or, does it reflect the responsibilities of an entire department? If it’s the latter, you’re probably not going to see a miracle fix for your sale funnel.
Before publishing that job description, think carefully about what you’re asking your sales VP to do. Can a single person really manage the sales team, rebrand your company, run tradeshows once a month and still regularly close $200,000 accounts? Probably not.
Your Culture Needs to Change
Motivating employees to meet their sales goals is a strong skill of a sales executive — and it’s probably one of the reasons you want to hire someone new. However, hiring someone new doesn’t automatically change an existing organizational culture.
For example, does your company parking lot empty out by 4 pm every day? This may be a sign your culture needs to change, not your VP of sales. If your team doesn’t show up every day ready to hit the ground running, you have a deeper problem that needs to be solved before you simply increase sales. Bringing in a new VP may help this issue, but now you’re looking to the new hire to be a culture expert in addition to a sales leader.
Your Processes Need to Change
What the previous items on this list show is if your internal processes don’t work, adding a new sales VP — no matter how skilled they are — won’t fix your sales funnel.
So, it’s time to turn your attention to your processes, starting with the most important one.
How’s your team’s communication? Is everyone aligned or are you operating in silos? Does everyone agree on your core values and follow a clearly defined process for moving prospects down the sales funnel?
Organizational communication breakdowns are a red flag something isn’t right. While a VP of sales no doubt is a great communicator, they aren’t the magic bullet. Instead, sit down and identify any common communication breakdowns within your organization. By addressing these problems first, you can ensure that everyone is moving forward in the same direction…before you drop big bucks on a new executive hire.
It’s a Quick Fix That Won’t Bring Lasting Improvement
Quick fixes are always tempting. They’re also not long-term solutions.
Hiring a new VP without fixing the existing problems in your sales organization may produce an immediate positive effect. But, pretty soon, everyone will fall back into their usual — dysfunctional — routines. That means six months down the road, you’ll find yourself in the same place you are now…and likely starting to think about replacing your VP once again.
Only when you have a strong understanding of the holes in your sales process can you add a VP of sales with confidence — and actually see some tangible changes.
Strategically hiring a new VP of sales within an already high-functioning sales organization is a great idea. It means your engine is running smoothly and you’re ready to take your company to the next level.
However, for all the reasons outlined above, hiring a new VP as a way to fix something that’s already broken in your organization probably won’t deliver the results you want — despite how talented that new hire may be.
If you’re thinking about hiring a new VP of sales, but aren’t sure it’s the right step, we can help. Take the sales engine diagnostic, or find out more about sale organization consulting.
“My sales team doesn’t use our CRM. Why aren’t we closing enough business? I’m not sure my sales team is making the calls they should."
Sound familiar? If you’re nodding your head “yes,” you likely know something’s wrong. You may find that no matter what you do, you still don’t see strong, predictable growth. Your organization's sales performance is seriously lacking.
A high-performing sales team is a lot like a car engine. There are many moving parts, and they must all be working perfectly to ensure a smooth ride. If your car is making strange noises or leaking oil, you need to roll up your sleeves and look under the hood.
So, how do you look under the hood of your sales engine to figure out what’s going on? Here are seven symptoms of a poorly performing sales organization — and how you can address them.
Your Leadership Team Doesn’t See Eye to Eye on Core Values
If your wheels are misaligned, your car will pull to one side. Similarly, if your leadership team isn’t aligned on core values, the company will focus on the wrong things. Ultimately, sales performance will suffer. You could easily end up with different departments pulling in different directions. This creates conflict that makes it hard for anyone — including the sales team — to do their job.
Sit down with your leadership team. Hash out your company values and decide the direction you’re going. Get aligned, and then move forward together.
Your Messaging is Unclear
If you have the first symptom on this list, you very likely also suffer from this one. As a test, ask three people in your organization exactly what it is that you do and who you do it for. If you get three different answers, your messaging is unclear.
Unclear messaging makes life difficult for the sales team. If they don’t know the values, how do they know how to convey that story to leads? Short answer: They don’t.
Spend some time defining your audience and clarifying your message. Who exactly are the people you help and how do you best help them? What story do you want your salespeople to tell? If this is all new to you, consider hiring a consultant to help.
Your Sales Organization Isn’t Measuring Goals
If you don’t measure goals, you can’t track success or identify areas for improvement. You won’t know what works and what doesn’t, and your sales team won’t have any way to judge their own performance.
Determine what goals matter most to you. Is it generating leads, increasing number of sales calls, boosting your MRR? Whatever your goals are, measure them on a regular basis to make sure that when the end of the quarter comes, your sales team is on track.
You Don’t Have a Repeatable Sales Process
Do you know the exact path by which your leads become customers? Or, is it all just chaos? If your sales process isn’t repeatable and scalable, or even worse not defined at all, you’ll never achieve steady revenue.
Analyze the different ways your leads become customers. Nail down the processes that are most likely to generate sales, and then make sure these processes are used across your organization.
Your Hiring Process Isn’t Strategic
Take a look at your job board. Are you trying to hire someone for responsibilities across sales, marketing, events and accounts? If so, this is a job description for a department, not a single person, and it’s a big indicator of a weak sales engine.
Before posting another job that will be impossible to fill, think carefully about exactly what your needs are. A more strategic approach to hiring will vastly improve your outcomes, and your sales performance.
Your Sales Team is a Revolving Door
Another consequence of non-strategic hiring is a sales team with high turnover. If what’s broken is the system, firing a salesperson and replacing them with someone new won’t fix it. That’s like changing the oil without ever replacing the oil filter. You’ll still have a dirty engine.
Look instead at the foundation of your sales organization. Examine the entire system, from values and goal setting to your sales funnel. Yes, sometimes employees need to move on. However, more often than not what needs changing is the foundation — not the people.
You Focus Too Much on Quick Fixes
Addressing the problems above takes work. And, you might find yourself drawn to quick fixes instead, like taking another sales training or trying a new marketing fad. You think, “If I change this one thing and get one ‘right’ client, I’ll open the floodgates to revenue.”
These things may work in the short term, but there’s no silver bullet for lasting change. Rather than settling for a one-hit wonder, buckle down and do the work. Your efforts will pay off mightily in the end, namely in your sales performance.
These symptoms are very common in organizations, and they all signify underlying problems. The good news is that every one of them is solvable. By defining your value, clarifying your message and developing a repeatable process, you can turn a poorly performing sales organization into a high-performing one.
Learn how The Carruthers Group can help you get your company on the right track through Sales Engine Workshops, Sales Organization Consulting and Sales Engine Programs.
Improving Sales Performance Growth Case Study:
10 Sales Tips that helped CEAVCO overhaul their messaging, align their sales organization and boost revenue with The Carruthers Group
When Matt Emerson inherited the leadership of CEAVCO Audio Visual from his father, he knew he was at the helm of a company that had a solid reputation. CEAVCO had been providing innovative audio, visual and creative services for events for more than 50 years. And they had a stellar retention rate — a cache of dedicated clients that partnered with them year after year. So, why weren’t they closing new deals?
Well, a lot can change in 50 years, especially in an industry that thrives on the cutting edge. CEAVCO had built its business renting A/V equipment and had moved into curating live events. As event planners began to seek creative partners, CEAVCO began to search for ways to differentiate themselves in the event space.
Emerson needed to help his team adapt to this growing market. But, their sales processes, their messaging and their proposal strategy were all rooted in old school tactics. Embedded in the way things had been done for decades and focused on daily business needs, it was a challenge for Emerson to step back and see just how to find a new path.
So, CEAVCO partnered with The Carruthers Group, a consulting firm dedicated to helping businesses expand revenue through intentional sales design. With The Carruthers Group, CEAVCO was able to modernize its sales processes, align on value and messaging, and grow revenue by $2 million. In fact, CEAVCO has seen 20 percent revenue growth in the first half of 2017 alone.
Want to know how they did it? Here are 10 actionable sales tips from the Carruthers & CEAVCO playbook.
Top 10 Sales Tips
I’m Karl Becker and I help individuals and organizations improve how they sell. My focus is on clear, concise, actionable solutions.
In short, I'll show you how to increase performance and generate more revenue.
This blog shares approaches, tools, and ideas that I have seen create success.
If you’re interested in discussing anything, please reach out.