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Make the Most of a Sales Team

By John Chapin

Getting the most out of a sales team will most likely take some work and effort. That said, here’s a fairly straight-forward, step-by-step process that can help maximize team sales and performance:

Step 1: Remove the roadblocks.
Delegate paperwork, computer work, order entry, and all the other day-to-day items that don’t have salespeople in front of a prospect or customer to highly capable, competent non-salespeople. The only activities that make salespeople—and their companies—money are prospecting, presenting, and closing. In addition to those three activities, salespeople should be spending about 20% of their time building relationships and following up with current customers, especially the top 20% that give provide 80% of their business

Step 2: Provide the right environment.
Once the task and activity roadblocks have been removed, provide a supportive environment which is conducive to doing business in. This is a professional environment of positive, proactive people that includes the tools and resources necessary to sell at the highest level possible. CRM tools, telephone systems, email, and all other support items should be in place and running smoothly and efficiently. The environment needs to be void of negativity, red tape, and any other obstacles that slow down or hinder business.

Step 3: Develop sales skills.
Now that the salespeople are spending the most time possible in front of prospects and customers, the next step is to ensure they are as effective as possible when they are having those conversations. Salespeople should have well-thought-out, scripted answers to everything they need to say in a prospect or client interaction. Presentations, answers to objections, closes, and anything else they might possibly need to say should be well crafted and tight. They also have to have all of it committed to memory to the point where if someone were to wake them at 3 a.m., they’d be able to respond immediately. In order for this to happen, they should each have their own personal playbook of scripts that they refer to and practice on a daily basis. They should also be encouraged to read books, listen to programs, watch videos, and study everything they can get their hands on that relates to selling.

Step 4: Help them find their motivation.
One of the jobs of the leader of a sales organization is to know how to motivate a team. While external positive (money and prizes), and external negative (“Do business or else.”) methods can work temporarily, it’s better to help them find their internal, lasting motivation. Do this by focusing on the big picture: Why are they working at the company and what is the end game? What is their ultimate vision for themselves, their families, and their lives in general?  What do they want and, more importantly, why do they want it? It’s simple, if they know where they are headed in life for themselves and their families, and they have powerful reasons why they must get there, they’ll get there—but it’s going to come down to having a powerful why.

Once their vision and why they must achieve it has been determined, show them how their daily activities are getting them closer to the vision and how a lack of activity takes them in the opposite direction. Let them know they are cared about and supported and continue to tie daily activity to what they want most.

Step 5: Set standards and hold them accountable.
This step is the one that is most often ignored by leaders of sales teams. It is imperative to set standards for sales activity and hold everyone accountable. With newer salespeople be sure to watch activity more closely until they are on track with good, sound habits. With top performers and veterans, be more hands off. Each salesperson needs to have reasonable but challenging goals. A salesperson should be pushed out of his or her comfort zone, but also must believe that what is being asked of them is possible.
No one gets a buy here. If a salesperson is not hitting his or her numbers, find out why. Is it a skillset or attitude issue? If it’s a skillset issue, do what is necessary to help them to develop needed skills. If it’s an attitude issue, that person will eventually need to be let go. Keeping underperformers around will kill morale, cause major headaches, and, at the end of the day, doesn’t do anyone any favors.

John Chapin has 24 years of sales, customer service, and management experience and
is an award-winning sales speaker, trainer, and coach. He is also a sales rep in three industries and the primary author of the gold-medal-winning “Sales Encyclopedia.” To reach Chapin, find a free white paper on what it takes to be successful in sales, and subscribe to his monthly news­letter, visit


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