How to Build an Invincible Sales Team
If you spend any time watching the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then you’re undoubtedly aware that Nick Fury assembled a super team of heroes in The Avengers.
And while you might not need to defend Earth from the galaxy’s mightiest villains, you can take your business to a whole other level by assembling an Avengers-esque sales team. The good news? It’s not nearly as hard as you might think.
Every new employee is an investment, and when it comes to sales, that investment can be substantial. This makes picking the right candidates for your team one of your most important responsibilities as a sales manager.
Know the Strengths and Weaknesses of Your Team
The absolute first step in transforming your team involves taking an inventory of their strengths and weaknesses. This task should be undertaken on multiple levels – consider your team as a whole, and evaluate each individual team member.
At this point, it’s a great idea to run a SWOT analysis. If you’re not familiar with what a SWOT analysis is, here’s a quick breakdown.
A SWOT analysis is a compilation of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The primary objective of a SWOT analysis is to help organizations develop a full awareness of all the factors involved in making a business decision.
What are some of the most common strengths and weaknesses we find in sales teams? We’re glad you asked.
Common Sales Team Strengths
Here are strengths you can build on if your salespeople already possess them – or things you’ll want to work on building if they do not.
The Ability to Listen
Some sales people will feel like any time they’re not dictating the conversation and talking is a potential missed opportunity, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The best sales people know that listening can allow them to gain deeper insights into their customer’s thought process.
We think of sales as a tough, dog-eat-dog business, but the best sales people are able to empathize with their customers, which makes it easier to understand their pain points.
A complacent sales person who’s not hungry to close deals is going to be a sales person who underperforms. You want a team of pros who are constantly looking for the next win.
There can be a “fake it till you make it” attitude in sales – it’s inevitable in a business where rejection is a regular outcome. However, the best sales people are naturally confident. They understand that a deal might not go their way, but they never lose faith in their skills and abilities.
Common Sales Team Weaknesses
On the flipside of the coin, here are some of the most common weaknesses we find in sales pros who are struggling to become better. If you have team members with these traits, you’ll want to devise strategies to fix them as soon as possible.
As mentioned earlier, sales can be a tough business and it’s not a place for wallflowers. If you have team members who are not confident, or who don’t believe in their ability to be successful, you’ll need to either remove them from your team or find ways to break through that negative worldview.
A Need for Approval
This one ties in a bit with the self-limiting beliefs. A needy sales pro who always needs approval is headed down a dangerous path. Sometimes the best deals require playing hardball – and if you have a team member who always needs to be liked, that person is probably going to cave when the going gets rough.
Fear of Rejection
Part of being a sales professional is learning to deal with rejection – it’s one of the constants with the job. If you have team members who are afraid of rejection, that can quickly turn into a bad situation. A salesman afraid of rejection is going to close less deals because they’re going to shy away from any situation where a positive outcome isn’t guaranteed.
Now that we know some of the strengths and weaknesses you’ll commonly find in sales people, it’s time to evaluate your team. If you find you have team members with a lot of these weaknesses, you’ll need to address them quickly.
Part of being a good sales manager and building a team of all stars is understanding everyone’s skillset. This way, you can put people in the best position to find success.
13 Proven Sales Training Methods
By now, you’ve learned what your team is good at and what areas need work. The natural inclination here is to dive right into correcting everyone’s weaknesses, but don’t forget to reinforce strengths too.
No matter what your goals are, these sales manager training ideas will help your team become better at the art of the deal.
1. Selling Through Curiosity
Selling Through Curiosity (STC) is a tried and true interactive sales training tactic, that’s been around for years because it works.
The basic gist of the STC method is that it teaches sales professionals to learn to balance interview and conversation skills.
One of the strengths of a great sales pro is the ability to listen, but selling through curiosity allows the sales rep to dive deeper by starting conversations, listening to answers, and then acting upon them to reinforce key selling points.
The best part is you don’t even have to practice this technique with other people. If you’re utilizing sales enablement software, guided selling tools can help your staff learn how to best approach interactions with a wide range of potential clients.
2. Sales Training Templates
Your sales department might utilize things like sales playbooks to help your team navigate each customer interaction in a way that is designed to guarantee success, so why not apply the same principles to your training?
A sales training template is basically a document that outlines what you want a team member to work on in the upcoming weeks (or months). It’s a detailed roadmap slash progress report where you can set goals, offer insights on things that the employee is doing well, and provide areas for improvement.
You can’t be by your team’s side every minute of the day – but by using training templates, you can give them a long-term list of things they can be working to improve while also providing positive reinforcement for the things they do well.
3. Team Product Testing Sessions
To be a truly effective sales professional, it’s imperative you understand your product. If you work in the Software as a Service (SaaS) space, product knowledge becomes even more vital because odds are your customers have done their homework.
To create a team of experts who not only know every in and out of your product, but are also excited to share that knowledge, consider running some team product sessions.
These group sessions will allow your team to get together and become more familiar with your offerings, share selling strategies, and become more proficient at presenting the offer to customers.
It’s a good idea to schedule these kinds of get-togethers for every new product launch, but make sure you also spend time with your older offerings as well.
4. Run Mock Presentations
Product presentations are a constant for sales people – and a good presentation can be the difference between closing a sale or going home empty handed.
Because of this, it’s vital that you’re constantly refining your presentation process. The best way to make sure it’s in tiptop shape? Run mock presentations.
The benefits of this practice are two-fold.
If you have team members with really strong presentations, they can not only share their selling techniques for the less skilled to learn from, but they can also watch other presentations and provide constructive feedback.
The real beauty of the mock presentation is that it provides a safe environment for experimentation and meaningful repetitions. As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect – mock presentations are great way to get practice as you work toward perfection.
5. Assessment Sessions
Our next training method to help take your team to the next level ties in nicely with the inside sales training templates we discussed earlier. If you’re not using regularly scheduled assessments of your team, you may be missing an opportunity for improvement.
The key goal of assessments is to create an open dialogue between you and your team. It’s often useful to give each member of your sales squad their own self-assessment sheets that they can fill out during the week, month, or quarter, then schedule meeting times to go over their results and offer feedback.
The word “assessment” in a job setting can cause a lot of stress and anxiety, so the key here is to remind everyone that this isn’t a typical performance review, but instead an opportunity for growth and development. As such, be sure to focus on the positives as well as things that can be improved.
6. Mentoring and Shadowing Programs
Have a new hire you want to get up to speed quickly? Have someone who’s struggling to meet their quota? Have someone who’s knocking it out of the park with their numbers month over month? Then you have the perfect set up for a mentoring and shadowing program.
Pairing new or underperforming team members with top achievers provides an opportunity for them to learn by shadowing.
Beyond that, mentoring provides countless opportunities for team building, better communication, and a chance for everyone to learn to be better at what they do.
7. Objection Training
The path to sales success is a long one – and it seems to be getting longer all the time as sales cycles now stretch on for months.
It’s inevitable that at multiple points on the way to a win, sales pros will encounter objections. It’s in these moments that truly great sales people are made.
Handling objections can be a delicate balancing act – you will want to be understanding and empathetic while also diffusing the objections without sounding too rehearsed.
This can be a challenge even for seasoned sales reps.
Fortunately, you can help your team prepare for these bumps in the road by regularly scheduling training meetings where you role-play to overcome objections.
Discuss any new objections your team is encountering in the field, brainstorm ways to navigate past them, and then practice them in the group.
With enough practice, your team will turn objections into wins with regularity.
8. Understand the Buyer’s Perspective
When we talked about strengths and weaknesses earlier, empathy was mentioned as one of the strengths to aim for in your invincible sales team. This technique is where we work on cultivating that sense of empathy to make more sales.
As a sales manager, you should regularly workshop sales interactions from the buyer’s perspective. Many customers report that they feel misunderstood by sales people – which can create a disconnect.
To better understand what your customers are going through and relate to their challenges more effectively, have your team go through your buyer’s journey.
While doing this, have them catalog the objections they encounter at each stage (which can provide things to discuss at the next overcoming objections training), have them approach the journey from all the different perspectives of potential buyers (IT, marketing, or whatever other departments might be involved), really put them into the buyer’s mindset.
Walk a mile in your customer’s shoes – it will make your team better in the long run.
9. Look Outside For Inspiration
Sometimes, shaking things up with an outside perspective is the best way to help your team become better. There’s something to be said for new viewpoints and observations.
To do this, consider bringing in experts from outside of your company. Other sales experts, motivational speakers, authors, anything that changes the status quo can actually inspire your team.
Don’t be afraid to go outside the box – or outside your company – to make your sales team better.
10. Review and Assess Call Recordings
While the goal is to always get face-to-face meetings, a lot of sales business is conducted over the phone. If your reps aren’t good on the phone, it could be costing you sales.
To remedy this, take recorded calls and listen to them with your team. Point out where things could be better, things that are working perfectly, and provide tips on how to improve.
If you use sales enablement software, some programs will actually transcribe calls for you – meaning you can not only listen to a recorded call, but notate right on a printed transcript.
The key here isn’t to tear down your sales team’s efforts, but to help them find ways to be more effective. Mastering the phone is a key skill all sales people need to acquire – breaking down sales calls can help everyone become more effective.
11. Analyze the Competition
Odds are you’re already well aware of what your competition offers and how they conduct their business.
However, having your sales team perform a competitive analysis of your biggest business adversaries can help them understand things they might have otherwise missed.
For example, it can teach new hires about the competition in your space – while also highlighting how you stack up against them. This is invariably useful in interactions with potential customers.
Beyond that, sometimes having a new perspective from your team will reveal things about the competition you might have otherwise missed.
12. Identify “Potholes”, Then Fill Them
We’ve talked about identifying strengths and weaknesses at numerous points in this article – because it’s important. It’s equally important to for your team to do their own self-evaluation, and this step will help.
Have your team do a list of “potholes” – three to five things they encounter on a daily (or least regular) basis that trip them up. This way, they’ll become more cognizant of these issues and can work to alleviate them.
13. Get Out of the Office
Sometimes, getting out of a rut is as simple as changing your venue.
When your team spends all of their time in the office, taking a field trip can not only provide a break from the norm, but the change in scenery can provide an opportunity to work on things that can help your team become better.
Whether you go off-site for a fun trip or to an activity that’s work-related, getting out of the confines of the office gives everyone a chance to relax a bit and offers plenty of opportunities for team building.
Truthfully, you could perform many of the sale team building techniques we’ve talked about in this article from a remote location.
So, if you’re not getting out of the office with the team, consider taking the show on the road. A new locale can help your team bond and become even stronger.
The sales team is one of the most important teams in any business – they’re the engine that drives your success. Without sales, it’s hard to stay in business.
As such, it should come as no surprise that every year companies spend mountains of money on training, coaching, and other techniques to help their sales people perform more effectively.
Given that roughly 66% of sales professionals fail to hit their quotas, this seems like money well spent.
However, before you break out the checkbook and buy a mountain of books and hire Tony Robbins for a three-day retreat, consider solving the problem yourself.
Building an invincible team filled with sales superstars starts at the hiring level. Interviewing is crucial – every hire is an investment, so you’ll want to spend the time to vet all your recruits.
When it comes to the team you already have, it’s simply a matter of taking a hands-on approach. Start by evaluating your team as a whole and then move to the individuals. Once you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your team, molding them into an unstoppable sales force becomes significantly easier. You just play to strengths and work on fixing weaknesses. The catch is that if you don’t figure out the strengths and weaknesses, you’ll never know what to fix.
In the end, it comes down to investing in your sales team – and not just financially, but in terms of time and coaching. The techniques highlighted in this article are a fantastic starting point, but just a starting point. There are even more tools and techniques you can use once you’ve implemented these.
No matter how you approach it, building an all-star sales team is worth the effort – you’ll not only wind up with more sales, but happier employees. That’s a win for everyone.
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Accent Technologies is the first and only SaaS company to bring together Sales AI and Content Management in a true Revenue Enablement Platform. We provide both sales and marketing with better visibility into the performance of their teams. This drives revenue through intelligent recommendations for complex sales scenarios and provides the data for rich analytics that power better coaching, forecasting, and long-term customer support. Learn more about our solutions or request a live demo to see it in action.
By Accent Technologies
4th December 2020
Building an Invincible Team the Accent Way
Executing effective persona-targeted messaging, sales plays, and follow ups can be extremely difficult in a complex B2B sales situation. Especially, if you’re basing your game plan on subjective assumptions about the opportunity’s health, intent, and key influencers.
But what if you could KNOW for certain who you’re engaged personas are? What if you could confirm their level of influence on the purchasing decision, and see how they reacted to each activity your sellers conduct with them?
With that level of insight, you could build an iron-clad sales effectiveness analysis, and dramatically improve execution of your sales team.