Business growth happens with a dedicated and successful sales team
Because the sale is the fundamental building block for business success, sales teams are critical to the company, says Mario Rossetti, owner of business consulting firm Rossetti Enterprises. “As the old saying goes, ‘Ain’t nothing happening until something’s sold,’ ” he adds.
Mike Logan, owner of Logan Pools in Brentwood, California, and a Certified Business Professional says every business owner at one time or another will come to the realization that nothing in his company will survive without a strong, successful sales team. “If sales are not made, everything grinds to a halt,” Logan says. “Pools will not be built, salaries will not be met, bills will not be paid and the front door will be locked tight.”
Since sales are the lifeblood of all business, as Logan says, it’s “mission critical” to have a highly trained team of qualified salespeople generating revenue for the company day in and day out. This starts with hiring a dedicated sales manager, and that should not be the business owner, adds Logan. “It’s a full-time job and not to be handled part-time by the owner,” he says.
Rossetti says finding the right sales manager is daunting and difficult, and most mistakes are made when building the sales team. Interview carefully but aggressively, he says, being direct in your expectations and keeping a list of traits you’re looking for right in front of you.
“Always understand that the finest salespeople, or those who have the talent to become the finest, will be interviewing you at the same time,” Rossetti says. “Prepare to impress them with training opportunities and plans for their success.” And right off the top, he insists the sales manager position (or any position on the sales team) should never be a reward for success in another division of your company or a gift to a friend of relative, since these positions will make or break your business.
Once you have a sales manager in place, discuss and write down expectations for his/her role and that of a successful sales team. While Rossetti is clear that the roles of a sales manager are too vast to cover in this allotted space, he suggests these jumping-off points:
The primary role of the sales manager is to increase revenue (specifically, revenue not sales numbers)
Inspire, motivate and continually train the sales team
Develop, along with owners, a detail of the right sale for the company
“Did I mention train the sales team on a continuing basis?”
Set team and individual goals that are closely monitored and adjusted as needed (and in writing)
“Oh yeah, did I mention training? Getting the idea?”
Rossetti says he believes the primary reason for failure of a sales team is the lack of a continual training program that contains easily understood information relevant to their specific challenges. And while Logan submits that a poor producing sales team may require the replacement of team members or even the sales manager, he too says training should be examined for effectiveness.
Incentives and recognition are also big parts of keeping and maintaining a successful sales team. “Make sure your superstars are paid a superstar’s salary,” Logan says. “If you don’t, your competitor will.” Rossetti says the best salespeople crave recognition almost as much as they crave cash. “Even if they deny this is the case, trust me, it’s important to them,” he says. “Any incentive program should include acknowledgement of sales success.”
Incentive programs should center on achieving above-standard goal completion, Rossetti says: Vary the incentives and be willing to adapt them to individual preferences — such as golf lessons or clubs for a sales team member who’s an avid golfer, and camping or hunting gear for someone passionate about the outdoors.
“One key for successful incentives is to make them infrequent and ‘special’ programs,” Rossetti says. “Often, when too many incentive programs are provided, salespeople fail to act unless there is a ‘sweetener’ involved. This may be destructive to company sales efforts.”
Rossetti says it boils down to the difference between inspiration and motivation; inspiration is to encourage, create excitement and provide the impetus for success — the desire to move forward. “Motivation is inspiration ‘with legs,’ so to speak,” he says. “Motivation is what takes inspiration to the next level and produces action. Many sales managers inspire, but fail to motivate, often because they do not know how to train.”