By Michael Parkes, Chief Revenue Officer at VideoAmp
Noted 19th Century Entrepreneur, and one of the pillars in the history of American business, Andrew Carnegie, once said, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”
When it comes to building any business, in the beginning, everyone is wearing multiple hats. But to really achieve scale, if a business can even get to this point, the business will have to put a dedicated sales team in place that will be able to achieve the revenue numbers that are needed to keep a business running.
Sure, the end goal for any sales team is the same, “always be closing,” made famous by the movie Glengarry Glen Ross. But there’s more to sales than just the bottom line. There is also something to take into account about how one nurtures and grows the sales team, and how that nurturing plays into the grand scheme of things for the business’s culture.
Throughout my many years in sales, the one constant I found was that a business must build and sustain a world-class sales team in order to close deals. For that to happen, you must create what we call a high-performance sales culture that includes the following four criteria:
- Hiring the right sellers. To me this is the most important criteria of the four as this lays the foundation for building that high-performance sales culture. I look for those who are a natural salesperson. My very simple measure of this is to ask myself ‘would I buy from this person?’ I believe winning is a habit, so a proven track record of success in different areas of life is an indicator that they will be a good hire. Relationships are important, but when hiring I look for relationships based on previous work together rather than just friendships. Another critical factor is work ethic. There is always more you could do in sales so it’s the people that are prepared to put in the most work are the ones that will win the deals. If you have enough of the right people a high performance sales culture will spread and motivate your entire team.
- Ensuring transparency and accountability. A Harvard Business School study on transparency in a restaurant setting showed an increase in customer satisfaction and service, which proves that customers are happier when they see the entire process. I believe the same should be applied in the business setting. Great sellers are competitive. They live and die by the numbers. If they are not hitting goals it eats them up inside. Sales success is easily measured. Giving transparency into goals and how individuals are performing removes the ambiguity. . Obviously, any good sales person doesn’t want to see their name at the bottom of a list compared to their peers. No longer do managers need to tell their sellers they are not doing well. It’s crystal clear and everyone can see so the s. But, in creating dashboards and reporting how each seller is performing does require a bit of disciple in terms of standing weekly calls, keeping an open dialogue amongst the team, and reinforcing clearly defined KPIs. Doing so will allow everyone to perform better, especially when nothing is hidden.
- Maintaining ongoing training. Constantly training your sales team on product knowledge insights is crucial in helping them sell better. I believe training should be an ongoing practice within a sales team. You can’t put a price on the knowledge base that you’re imparting on your staff. I’ve had employees come up to me and say how the ongoing training made them feel empowered in carrying out their duties more effectively , and to also ensure that everyone on the team is on the same page.
- Celebrating the wins. There is really no “I in team.” Your team is working hard to achieve the goals you laid out for them. When they bring in the deals, provide the recognition of both individual and team wins, and connect how each win builds to the overall success of the team. Celebrate the fact that everyone is contributing to the company’s trajectory.
In order to cultivate and scale a world-class sales team, one must think about the culture you’re looking to instill from day one. Think about the hires you’re making. Think about the managers and how they’re setting the tone and leading by example. Once you’re able to establish a culture that’s conducive to team aspect, celebrating the wins, and transparent, the dividends will pay out in the long run.