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How to Keep a Team at Peak Performance

Most sales training programmes I have come across have a serious fault built into them. They fail to recognise the main goal.

The only requirement to me of a sales team is increasing sales. Everything else is detail to support that goal.

Sales people typically as individuals and as team have troughs and peaks. They go up, they go down. Not just in results, you can see it in body language and hear it in tone of voice, measure it by number of phone calls made and similar metrics. Their performance is like a sine curve, a wavy line through the year. Sales training at its absolute best in my experience just raises that wavy line a few degrees. The peaks and troughs are slightly higher. You can try to recruit better job applicants, more suitable candidates, but this fact will still apply.

I take a different approach. My suggestion is to draw a straight line through the year across the peaks. Now shade in all those areas that are under that line but above the wavy line. This represents the losses you are making when your people are dropping in performance. You will usually find that this area of the losses is substantially more than the increased area of a slightly higher wavy line. This is simple geometry.

My point is a simple one.  If they individually and as a team can perform at that proven peak then they can do so consistently. They already have all the knowledge and skills and sales training they need to perform at that top straight line level. What they don’t have is access to that knowledge and skill consistently. As the graph shows the potential increase in sales without increasing skills or recruiting more people is massive, probably representing 40% sales increase for a typical sales team.

Now I have your attention you will be asking how can we achieve this consistent peak performance and gain those massive benefits without any increase in costs.

The short answer is to bring in Success Moves Consultancy and agree a percentage deal on the increase in sales.

The longer answer is to do it yourself and here are the pointers.

Firstly you need to take an audit of your current sales team. You need to find out who are the leaders and influences. That is not always the Manager and the highest performers. There will be the informal organisation. Then you have to ascertain the three top values of the team. This is your core profile, anyone not sharing those values will hold the team back. This should also be the recruitment profile you use for new candidates to your team. The next part of the audit is to establish all the triggers to performance level both moving it up and down. Some will be obvious, some less so.

The most common are:

  1. Just made a deal
  2. Just lost a deal
  3. Someone popular didn’t perform and was fired.
  4. Bad market news.
  5. A ‘bad apple’ in your team demotivating others

To maintain peak performance in the team the Manager has to be a best practice example all the time. Leaders do not have the luxury of having a bad day or a life outside of work that has something negative in it affecting their mood. If it does it should not be brought into the office. A good manager has to know all the personal triggers, positive and negative of each of his team members. In fact a good Sales Manager will establish these whilst interviewing job applicants.

Now you know the triggers, you have the controls to keep the team at a consistent high.

Good Luck!

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How to Close Even More Sales Deals

The short answer is recruit train and retain.

Your company has great products and/or services, a proven market, growth potential but you are held back by the sales growth not going as planned. You know the opportunities are out there but you just cannot seem to recruit the sales people that bring home the deals.

Most Sales Directors will do the following:

Place adverts or employ recruitment agencies, searching for people already with experience in their industry that can hit the ground running. Then train them on the job and leave them at it.

These are the most common responses and they don’t work, or at least not to the level wanted by the Sales Director. Let us have a look at why before presenting the solution that really does work.

1. The people recruited are not the right profile.
2. The training is virtually non existent and not to professional standards.
3. The management, motivation and leadership of the team is lacking.

To put this right you have to before you even think of recruiting, design and write down your recruitment profile and induction and ongoing development plan. Here are some of my ideas from experience.

Idea 1: Recruit motivated, goal oriented raw talent. Even Leonardo Da Vinci could not make a great statue unless he had some great clay to start with.
Yes, you say but how. Well forget recruiting from your own industry it is just not going to produce the numbers for growth. Instead recruit people with closing experiences in other industries. Pick industries where the income for sales people is not as high as yours. So many industries pay good sales people peanuts or cap earnings. You now have a large population to recruit from. It is quicker to teach the product knowledge of your company than to teach someone how to close deals. You must in your profile recruit to your values, so that a natural team spirit and identity emerges.

Idea 2: Train your Sales Manager on leadership, and motivation skills. This is a skill quite separate to sales which is what he or she excelled in to be promoted to Manager. The Sales Manager needs to be sensitive and offer leadership. If not one ‘bad apple’ will demotivate the whole group.

Idea 3: Do not expect your trainee and openers to be promotable to closers. Many industries start people as trainees, relationship builders, ice breakers, door openers. Needs lots of rapport skills, taking rejection etc. Closing is a totally different mind and skills set. Most really good sales openers will never make it as a closer. Great if it happens but not a reliable source to fast grow a business.

Idea 4: Consider older people who are not sales professionals. Most Sales Managers will believe that it is best to recruit young for the energy and sales experience to deliver. Often wrong assumptions. Motivation, money hunger, drive, positive attitude are not age and experience specific. A 60 year old seriously motivated to earn commissions can perform very well. They also have age prejudice against them which will mean they value the opportunity more. They also will, depending on their carer to date, have many skills in communication that are actually relevant to sales. Life skills, parenting, managing, team building, in any context develop practical sales skills. Interestingly people new to sales often outperform sometime because they do not sound like stereotypical sales people.

Idea 5: Manage out of office influencing factors. Many people bring their home life to the office and many a good sales person is ruined by negative external pressures, stresses or influences. You need to ask and prove real motivations and influences. Do they have support of those around them for your position? What can you do to change make that better or at recruitment stage is it going to be too negative an influence. For example money hunger is usually good in sales but if your closer has desperate financial pressure s/he may become too pushy or desperate and trigger buyers remorse situations.

Feel free to email me any comments or challenges


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Teach to Sell, Don’t Tell

Training is only of value when your sales people learn AND apply what they have learnt.

Learning is as big a subject as sales. Yes, you might have the experience in the job but what do you know about learning and teaching. Telling isn’t selling and certainly isn’t teaching. Good sales training is when you have a student acquire a new skill which is not limited to your ability and then watch them close a deal using it. People have different learning styles, methods, speeds. Teaching one person, you can know them and teach according to their learnings preferences or train them into changing learning styles to match what is being taught. A group though is a whole new dynamic. That is why teachers do degrees on the subject before they are let loose in a classroom.

So, what is your induction training plan for new sales staff? Is it effective? What do you do to establish and react to their learning styles? Or are you just a ‘lecturer’ and just tell them the information. Teach to Sell don’t Tell, in order to build a high performance sales team.
Be wary of ex sales people ‘having a go’ as a freelance sales trainer. Ask them the above questions and see if they impress you with the answer. Then ask them if they will do a deal based on results rather than a day rate.

On this website are resources to sales train your own people. We are putting a full beginners, intermediate and advance programme on shortly. We will be adding Trainer Notes to get the best out of your sales staff. All free resources.