Is “sales team” an oxymoron?
There are many people who believe that sales is
mostly an individual effort and that the idea of a “team” involved is a
mere technicality. You have individuals
working independently who make up a “team.” Sales, they’ll argue, is no more a team effort than tennis’
Davis Cup or golf’s Presidents Cup.
In the end, some individuals will succeed and some won’t. The successful ones don’t care if the
team as a whole fails because they’ll still get paid.
But the fact of the matter is that there are
thousands of sales teams all over Corporate America, some of which work
cohesively and some that don’t.
The team you’ve put together—seasoned veterans, rookies, and the in-betweens—is
hopefully on the phone closing up deals, but also helping one another in small
ways or least not impeding the sales floor’s progress.
The bottom line is that you want to put together
individuals who can coexist in a competitive atmosphere. You want your salespeople to find their
groove and work with few distractions.
You want them to grow with your company. The less turnover the better. You don’t want to spend your time training new people. These are givens. The question is, how do you build and
keep a sales team?
Well, what kind of coach are you? Are you loose, free and easy or do you fall on
the disciplinary side? Only you
know. Write down what drives you, what kind of leader you want to be, and the type of team you believe will be a
winner. Here are some things to
keep in mind:
The Personality Dilemma. It is very easy to fall into the trap of hiring people who
are exactly like you. You need
diversity in the office, different working styles that complement other ways of
getting the job done. If everybody
thinks and works in exactly the same way then there is little room for the
individual to grow. You might say,
“If everybody worked like Bill then I would have a super team.” Not necessarily. How is Bill going to learn and grow as
a salesperson if he’s looking into a mirror all day? Where will the inspiration come from?
The Goal Dilemma. Are your goals crystal clear to your employees? Do they know exactly what’s expected of
them? What is your mission
statement? What do you believe,
what do you accept as a positive working environment and what exactly do you
dismiss as a negative model. Write
these ideas down and instill in your team that these beliefs ensure a winning
Open Door Policy. Be flexible and open-minded. Everything is not in stone. Times change.
Open your door to your sales team, and every once in a while have them
begin a meeting instead of you going into a rah-rah monologue. Employees like to be heard and give
feedback. Take advantage of these
opportunities. Sales is an ongoing
learning process even if you’ve been doing it for twenty years. Don’t get too set in your ways.
For you golf fans out there the Presidents Cup (US
vs. the World) is next month. The
job of captain Fred Couples will be to put his team of highly paid superstar
athletes—Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson included—at ease with one another. How will Couples get the best out of
each player? Team dinners? Guest speakers?
I’m sure that Couples has had a game plan for months
now. He’ll tweak it accordingly if
need be, and I’m sure he’ll have an open ear when it comes to improving a
particular situation. But in the
end the players themselves will be responsible for winning or losing. Couples can’t putt for his team. All he can do is create a productive
working environment and a belief system that his players will follow and put in