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Team Pride!
How to Build a Sales Team with Swagger

Fall is here.

That means football, and based on what the Vikings and Gophers showed us last year we Minnesota fans have high expectations.

As I write this though, both teams have stumbled.  After the third week of college ball, the second of the NFL regular season, neither team has lived up to expectations.

The Gopher offense looks questionable and though the team has a 2-1 record, it feels more like 0-3. Especially after the narrow 10-7 victory over Kent State on September 19.

Meanwhile, the Vikings suffered an ugly, season-opening loss at San Francisco on September 10.  Defeating the Detroit Lions 26-16 the following week, however, seemed to turn things around. I don’t know about you, but I exhaled a giant sigh of relief.

The team’s collective psyche also vastly improved. The convincing win “builds confidence and builds a little swagger in the locker room,” Vikings veteran Captain Munnerlyn is quoted as saying.

Swagger, that’s what Minnesotans are seeking from their two football teams.

It’s also what your company should expect of its sales team.

Yet swagger is exactly what makes managing a sales team so challenging.

This isn’t new insight. High-performing salespeople have strong personalities. They’re often described as social, optimistic, good persuaders, visionaries, and people- and team oriented. They solve problems and drive for results.

On a more negative note, they are often impulsive, verbally aggressive and demanding. They may hold unrealistic expectations, lack attention to detail and are often disorganized.

If you’re a sales manager (or chief executive, business owner or sales director) you most likely know how frustrating managing these people can be — especially if you are methodical, analytical or process oriented.
 
The solution is to hire and manage around those traits and the issues they bring.  I’ve found over the years, that the key for doing this is to:

1. Hire right
Hiring correctly is a tough task, especially in sales. How do you identify the right person? Here are some tips:

  • Consider the past. Numbers don’t lie so check track records with other employers. Generally if salespeople perform well for them, they’ll perform well for you.
  • Hire for personality traits.  Look for someone who needs to achieve, who has an insatiable desire for excellence and who will stop at nothing to reach success. Look also for competitiveness and optimism.
  • Look for someone who fits in with your team and your organization’s culture.
     Assessments like Profile’s Sales Assessments™ and its Sales CheckPoint™, which I profile later in this newsletter, can help. Assessments will allow you to weed out weak candidates early in the hiring process by measuring how well a person fits a specific sales job in your organization. They can also identify weaknesses that show up later and which you can then address.

 
2. Pay attention to the onboarding process
Help your newly hired employees understand the company, the culture and your expectations.

3. Train your salespeople
Prepare your people to do the job.  Invest in sales training and expect your trainees to take it seriously.

4. Remove obstacles like compliance expectations
In other words, give your salespeople freedom to select their course and handle their job creatively.

5. Coach not manage and above all not dictate
This means not telling your high performers what to do. Instead, when you have an issue to fix, ask them to discuss possible options. Let them own the solution to the problem at hand.

6. Let them do what they do best
If, for example, one of your people is great at selling but not so great at details or writing proposals, find someone to support him in that function.

7. Pat them on the back
As a rule, money doesn’t drive top-performing sales people. Recognition and respect do. For them, it’s really about achieving results.

8. Adjust your management style
Just as there is no one pitcher perfect for every pitching situation, there’s no one leadership style that fits all situations. You need to adapt your style to the skills and personalities of your team members.

9. Know your people
Learn what is important to your salespeople; what drives them. This will help you with number eight above, adapting your management style.  

Here’s the bottom line. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years as a human resources professional, it’s that working in sales is tough. The profession requires more and better skills than most jobs. It also requires drive and confidence — swagger!

It’s understandable, then, that a majority of sales managers just can’t seem to build a sales force of top producers.

The good news is that it’s possible. It just requires a little different approach from hiring and managing in other departments.

Fall is as good a time as ever to analyze your hiring and management process. With a few simple changes, you can probably hire and raise a sales force with swagger capable of consistently growing your company’s bottom line in the next year. Go team!


Your Solution Toolbox: Two Ways to Fit Your Salespeople to Your Organization

If I failed to say this — and I may have — let me say it now:

Above all, when you build your sales team, you must find and groom people appropriate for your organization.

“So how do I do that?” you ask? “How do I build a team of people who fit together and with my organization? People who take pride in their work? People who will take time to know their products and their customers? Who understand their competitors? Who stay abreast of sales trends? Honest people with empathy and drive?”

Here are two tools that can help:

Profiles Sales Assessment™ 
Profiles Sales Assessment™ (PSA) measures how well a person fits a specific sales job in your organization so that you can optimize sales performance.

You can use PSA to select, onboard and manage salespeople and account managers.

You can also use it to understand when salespeople on your team need training and support, and how to help them.

Drawing upon data derived from the top-performing salespeople in specific sales jobs in your organization, PSA will help you:
• evaluate an individual based on qualities required to perform successfully
• predict on-the-job performance in seven critical sales behaviors: prospecting, call reluctance, closing the sale, self-starting, working with a team, building and maintaining relationships, and compensation preference.

Profiles Sales CheckPoint™
Profiles Sales CheckPoint™will help you improve your sales team’s performance.

It’s a feedback system. You use it to evaluate your salespeople, pinpoint their development needs and align priorities.

It provides useful information that helps in: 

  • supporting better coaching and communication
  • improving salesperson productivity and satisfaction
  • reducing turnover

If you would like more information about Profiles Sales Assessment™ and Profiles Sales CheckPoint™ or any of Profiles International’s assessments, call me today at 952-322-3330 or send an email to mgorski@mgassessments.com.


HR Consulting
Call me, too, if you are looking for professional assistance with your personnel questions. We’ll help you learn how to:
 • understand your workers’ strengths, weaknesses and interests
 • match people to job demands
 • increase employee performance throughout your organization

Let's Talk! We offer a no-obligation consultation to informally assess your current policies, procedures and practices. This may help determine what's missing in your current programs. Again, call 952-322-3330 or send an email to mgorski@mgassessments.com.