The “SMART” Way to Scale Your Sales Team

by  Bill Bartlett - Sandler Training
click here for direct article on Sandler Training's website

What are the best practices for predictably scaling a sales team’s revenue? Here are six ideas that we share with sales leaders, each of which is built on the foundation of personal SMART goals. (See best practice #1, below.)

  1. Develop a personalized coaching and mentoring approach to developing high performers. This is the first priority. Focus on coaching your top performers first! That means making time for private one-on-one conversations with each of them. These confidential discussions are all about helping the high performer get where they want to go next in their life. We do that by supporting them and helping them to ramp up their progress measurably toward personal and professional goals that motivate them to go beyond their comfort zone. These one-on-one sessions are driven by us asking questions about:
    1. what is working for the salesperson right now,
    2. what isn’t,
    3. what the obstacles are,
    4. how best to overcome those obstacles,
    5. what to do more of,
    6. what to do less of, and
    7. what to do differently.

A truly effective coach uses questions – not lectures – to make sure the answers to these questions connect to a set of unique personal and behavioral goals. These must be goals that are Specific to the high performer; Measurable in a way you both understand, Attainable in your market, Realistic yet a bit of a stretch, and Time-driven, meaning you both know when the goal is supposed to be fulfilled. During these one-on-one meetings, your goal as the sales leader is to use such SMART goals to shift goal setting from a problem-solving activity to an activity that supports one individual’s unique, aspirational personal mission. For more on these all-important conversations, see the forthcoming book Coach to Success: Insights on the Art and Science of Managing Sales Performance.

  1. Develop, record, and standardize an effective sales process. If you’ve got twelve different people following twelve different roadmaps to buyer decisions, your team will not scale. Period. As the sales leader, it’s your job to systematize this, so invest whatever time you need to invest to identify the right “sheet music” – and then make sure everyone is singing from it.
  1. Track behavior, not just numbers. Behavior is something people can adjust far more easily than revenue outcomes. So, we want to be sure to track the behavior. It’s not that closed deals aren’t important. They are! But having a clear fix on the unique daily, weekly, and monthly behaviors that make it possible for each of your team members to most effectively deliver that revenue – is essential. Make sure each rep has a personalized behavioral plan that connects to, and supports, his or her unique income goal. This personalized plan is a hallmark of sales teams that set, and hit, aggressive sales targets: everyone on the team has such a plan, and everyone tracks behavior consistently to see just how close they are to fulfilling the plan!
  1. Build a “learning community” as well as a “doing community.” How much time do members of your team spend on personal development activities? Does each salesperson have a unique goal that connects to his/her specific career track? What new and relevant techniques are your people learning each week? These are important questions. Find the right answers to them! Focusing only on doing, and never on learning, means people aren’t investing in their own personal growth. Where there is no personal growth, there is no growth on the sales team!
  1. Develop “thought leaders” within the team. Certain top performers can help you and the rest of the team to spot new trends in the marketplace and identify new techniques for connecting with likely buyers. Make the most of the competitive intelligence these people uncover on the front lines…by letting them share it with the rest of the team! Celebrate them appropriately for doing so.
  1. Use effective hiring and managed turnover to raise the cultural commitment of your team. Hiring effectively means hiring to sustain or upgrade the workplace culture you want. Managing turnover means letting people leave who don’t support the attitude and the values you are personally committed to upholding. Translation: If someone isn’t living your culture, and seems unlikely to live it in the future, your goal should be to find a way to help them move on to another situation where everyone will be happier. And when they’re gone, and you hire for the now-open position, make sure you hire for a strong cultural match, not just for skills and background. When you raise the cultural commitment, you raise the team’s performance!

Follow these six best practices consistently, and you will find yourself well positioned to scale your sales team – and, by extension, your organization. Read this blog post to learn the top 10 behaviors team members need to scale a sales team.

Expression of Interest

New Zealand selects leading growth companies to become Members.

International Leaders