Membership sales is an energetic profession full of individuals who are driven to be the best they can be. It can be quite rewarding if you have the right team. Conversely, if you have the wrong team, the environment will become tired and flat, which can leave salespeople feeling powerless to the dynamics of their environment. The wrong team ultimately cannot sustain growth, causing the company to miss valuable sales opportunities, which affects a company’s bottom line.
If your sales team’s performance is less than adequate, you need to look at what ingredients create high-performing sales teams and who creates these teams.
During my 20 years in sales and sales management, I have closed a huge number of deals, sold tens of thousands of memberships, trained many new sales consultants and won numerous awards for building powerful sales teams. In my experience, high-performing sales teams reflect high standards of excellence, and excellence grows only from attention to detail.
The following are the eight steps you need to take to create a successful sales team and develop high standards of excellence that funnel from the right leader:
1. Hire an excellent sales manager. Stellar sales teams are comprised of excellent salespeople and an excellent manager. Teams full of excellent salespeople and a so-so manager will be short-lived. Over time, an average manager will pull down the salespeople, and the team will not fulfill its potential. Alternatively, an excellent manager brings excellence to his or her team. An excellent manager may inherit average salespeople, but he or she will be able to train, coach, motivate and replace salespeople until the entire team is excellent. Remember, good sales managers are experts of the sales process, and they are able to teach their consultants how to master the art. Excellent sales managers are truly the force behind the sales force.
2. Hire the right salespeople. Many organizations do not realize how hiring the wrong salespeople can be detrimental to their business. Hiring the right salespeople is not only critical to achieving revenue goals, but it also becomes paramount in the customer/client relations department. Salespeople are the frontline troops who come in daily contact with prospects and existing members, so mistakes in hiring can damage valuable member relationships and hurt your company’s image in the marketplace. In the club business where referrals are a big source of new member leads, having the right salespeople interface with current members becomes crucial for success in excellence. You must put quality time into the recruiting and hiring process.
When hiring salespeople, make sure that they are coachable. Many great salespeople are not born—they are developed with the right training and environment. Also, make sure they are winners. Winners make things happen, don’t make excuses, maintain consistent production in any economic climate, challenge the status quo and possess the internal drive, passion and energy to continually accomplish personal and professional goals.
Other champion qualities your salespeople must possess are: a love of their profession, unique individuality, strong personality, confidence, money driven, burning desire to achieve, risk takers, not afraid to fail, high achiever, enthusiastic, energetic, proactive, polished, professional image, articulate, strong rapport builders, good conversationalists, internal drive, ability to empathize with customers, ability to warmly influence people.
3. Develop and execute a strategic, targeted marketing plan. Leads are the life force to the sales team. Proactive prospecting and creating sales channels within the community are necessary components in the creation of leads. However, the sales team needs to stay in close contact with the marketing department. Marketing needs to hear from sales so both departments can work together in creating quality leads. The strategic marketing plan that is developed by the sales manager should take into account the company's outbound marketing efforts so there is a positioned game plan in the marketplace. Without a plan, you may miss opportunities and get less than optimal lead production. In addition, you need to market to people who can buy. Marketing to the wrong demographic is a waste of valuable time and money. Understand your market and know your competition.
4. Develop sales systems. Without structure, you are setting your team up for failure. You can never “wing it” if you want to have a high-performing team. Your sales systems should run like a finely tuned machine with proper procedures detailing every single action that needs to happen to produce results. Good sales managers have a strong focus on systems, making sure each team member follows them.
5. Invest in good hardware and software. Companies who purchase inadequate phone systems, computers and software do not give their salespeople the tools they need to perform. Without quality raw materials, the team will not be able to maximize results. A good contact management software program should be a priority. If you cannot track it, it does not exist.
6. Establish ground rules, policies, procedures and expectations. Make crystal clear what is expected from each team player. This includes documenting and discussing things such as split policies, tracking procedures, job description, lead distribution, dress code, daily work activities and requirements, monthly goals, mode of acceptable communication, company policies and compensation structure. All of these things say, “This is how we are going to do it, and this is what is expected of you. This is how we produce results.”
7. Reward and recognize good performance. You must understand what makes salespeople tick. Salespeople are motivated by money and recognition. Plain and simple. Your compensation plan should be motivating. Its structure should highly incentivize your salespeople for achieving and exceeding goals. Otherwise, the team will slowly lose motivation, and your overall sales revenue will be short changed. Happy days should be when you are writing your salespeople big commission checks.
Recognition will greatly increase overall motivation and allows time to highlight each person’s accomplishments. Recognizing your team for good performance shows appreciation for their efforts. It is a nice way of saying, “Thank you. I value your hard work.”
8. Train, train, train. Sales training is so important to the overall success of the team. In my experience, organizations that put an emphasis on training have higher-performing sales teams. Specific to the club industry, the sales manager needs to be an expert on how to conduct the proper needs analysis, how to sell on value and not price, and how to win and influence people.
Sales training can be time-consuming, and many times it is overlooked, but it is crucial in the development of high-performing teams. Never underestimate the power of training.
So there you have it—the ingredients for how to build a stellar sales team. Remember, focus on having the right troops. Good intellectual capital does not appear with a flip of a switch. Take the time to find the right people who can execute your game plan. If you hire and plan accordingly, your sales team will become your biggest asset.
Ronna Clements has more than 20 years of experience in sales, sales management, corporate sales and business development. With a diverse skill set, she has set the pace for revenue generation in a highly competitive customer service-driven industry. Clements' strengths include a strong foundation in industry best practices and professional ethics, and she is noted for her motivational personality with an informed and direct speaking style. As a living health advocate, she maintains a healthy lifestyle and has a relentless passion for optimal health. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.