Your ability to drive your team’s performance and achieve sales results is undoubtedly the most important responsibility on your docket as a sales leader. How should you lead, which skills should your team learn, what techniques will work to manage team performance … you may devote an inordinate amount of time and energy to these activities.
While there is no elixir to transform your team, you do have several things available to you: the untapped potential of your team members, an innate desire for everyone to become more of themselves and an overwhelming need to matter. Understanding these factors and consciously creating opportunities for people to bring more of themselves into their daily roles might be the key to unlocking the performance of your team.
How do you create that kind of a sales environment? Perhaps one of these ideas might strike a chord with you.
1. Turn Your Team Into a Mastermind Group
Your team has a diverse range of skills and talents to bring to the table. Some reps are great at getting their foot in the door, others negotiate and close a deal like the best of Wall Street, and some build relationships that follow them throughout their career. Each person has a unique ability that contributes to their sales success, but while one rep solves a challenge easily, the same challenge confounds another. While the weekly sales meeting is a permanent fixture on every sales team’s calendar, its agenda typically revolves around measuring progress and sharing information before the team disbands once again to deal with their own challenges in the pursuit of their goals.
How can you harness the strengths of each of your reps to improve the entire team’s performance and productivity? Turn your sales team into a mastermind group. In his book “Think and Grow Rich,” Napoleon Hill cites the importance of like-minded individuals coming together to share “knowledge and coordinate their efforts to achieve a definite purpose.” He adds, “A group of brains connected in a spirit of harmony provide more thought energy than a single brain.”
Set aside time for a regular mastermind meeting where each member can discuss his or her challenges and receive input to solve a nagging problem quickly. Receiving practical advice not only results in a multitude of solutions but builds greater connections within your team. A mastermind group can enable you to tap into the collective intelligence of your team to solve your most pressing performance challenges.
2. Mine the Charisma Potential of Your Team
We’ve all been in the presence of charismatic people: You can’t help but like them, as they exude confidence and connect with you in a way that inspires trust and makes you want to do business with them. Developing charisma can seem elusive, as if it were something one is born with. As a result, while most people want to have charisma, they don’t think they can learn it. Unlike negotiation techniques or handling objections — key elements of any sales training program — developing charisma is hardly a skill that we emphasize or teach.
Contrary to popular belief, “Charisma is simply the result of learned behaviors,” says Olivia Fox Cobane, author of “The Charisma Myth.” Experts and researchers on charisma have shown that people have an untapped potential for charisma, and social experiments have improved people’s charisma by teaching them how to learn and apply certain social and emotional behaviors.
As technology levels the information playing field and gives more control of the buying process to your customers, your team might need to bring more to the table than their product knowledge, closing techniques and intelligence. Their ability to build confidence, influence and inspire your customer can make all the difference in helping them crack new accounts and stand out from other vendors. Train your team to build their charisma power; it might be the edge they need.
3. Treat Everyone Differently
Not everyone on your sales team has the same selling style, nor is he or she driven by the same rewards. Managers who use a range of coaching styles with their teams are more effective and achieve better results than managers who use a one-size-fits all approach. Find out what motivates each person on your team to develop the right behaviors and actions.
According to author Marcus Buckingham, author of “Now Find Your Strengths,” we reach our maximum potential by honing and using our individual strengths, not by spending too much time focusing on our weaknesses and trying to make them stronger. Align your team’s strengths and talents with your sales strategy to accelerate performance.
If cold calling isn’t someone’s strong suit, increasing their activity levels isn’t going to solve the problem. Perhaps they excel at networking and connecting with people who can open doors for them. If that’s the case, ask them to focus on a lead generation strategy that uses their strengths. Similarly, you might have people on your team who work better with certain industries and company sizes than others; have them work with companies that fit those characteristics. When people can exercise their strengths daily, they find their own intrinsic motivation and desire to forge ahead despite obstacles.
4. Consciously Keep the Focus on What’s Working
At Celebrus Business Strategies, we surveyed 182 senior managers in a range of industries and found that:
- Meetings keep 65% from completing their work.
- For 71%, meetings are unproductive and inefficient.
- Sixty-four percent believe that meetings come at the expense of deep thinking.
- Sixty-two percent believe that meetings miss out on opportunities to bring the team closer together.
When sales numbers are lagging, the most frequent response is often, “Do what it takes to fix the problem.” The intensity with which sales leaders approach problem-solving can result in a linear vision. A Scientific American article, “What Are We Thinking When We (Try to) Solve Problems?”, quotes Goldsmiths, University of London psychologist Joydeep Bhattacharya as saying, “If there’s excessive attention, it somehow creates mental fixation … Your brain is not in a receptive condition.”
Perhaps we’re headed down the wrong path by focusing on what’s not working. Appreciative inquiry, or the ability to look at what is working and direct your attention to what is possible, taps into the collective creativity of your team to find new solutions. For instance, instead of asking why conversion rates are low and what you can do to improve them, try these questions:
- What was different about the sales that you closed?
- What worked in those situations?
- What lessons could you transfer to the deal you didn’t close?
- What worked for you in reaching to this stage in the deal?
- What could be another way to move the sale forward?
Instead of causing your team members to feel bad about themselves and shut down, use appreciative inquiry to help them generate powerful solutions that they believe in.
5. Create Storytellers
As artificial intelligence (AI) begins to automate our day-to-day functions and the amount of information we can access grows exponentially, it’s less important for sellers to know a lot. The true differentiator and driver of success is now how much they care and connect with people. Move from content to connection. Create storytellers who can deliver presentations that entertain, empathize and engage to provide genuine value. Content masters are easily replaceable; master storytellers understand that we are all hardwired for stories and strive to fulfill buyers’ deep desire for emotional connection. It is no wonder that the world’s most successful pitches or products (and the TED Talks that inspire us) rely on this powerful technique.
Managing performance of your team may prove to be a more rewarding experience than you think. Follow these five tips, and watch their performance reach new heights.