With the rise in popularity of sales enablement, we can see that sales leaders are beginning to focus on evaluating their teams’ capabilities to meet the current year’s quota demands, as well as the increased demands that will follow in the next several years.
Typically, the emphasis has been on short-term solutions, and although these tactics may very well solve immediate challenges, they do little to help you drive the efficiency required to prepare your team to attain quota in the coming years.
Designing a team that is more efficient means helping individuals get more out of their existing efforts, such as engaging in more conversations or improving sales conversions. The challenge with improving efficiency is that it can’t be enhanced immediately—it takes time, which is the reason it’s usually a secondary priority. Some organizations opt for a workshop scenario to improve these skills, despite the fact that research clearly shows this approach to be ineffective. The challenge is to get sales leaders to take a longer-term view and prepare their sales teams to acquire the skills that will serve them in the future.
What we have seen from our top client engagements is a strong focus on architecting sales teams that not only possess the skills needed today but continue to evolve with today’s buyer.
Here are three tips we have seen applied successfully at some top organizations.
1. Hire More Diversely (Don't Be an Industry Snob)
Often, organizations refuse to hire outside of their industry, and this is a very costly mistake.
The idea that an individual can't be successful in one industry even though they were a top performer in another is foolish. This uninformed bias (prevalent in many SaaS companies) will ensure that your organization will have to work harder to find and recruit the talent you need for the long term. Top performers are hard to find; don’t make the job more difficult by being too stringent. Learning your industry will take a fraction of the time that it will take you to teach a less experienced individual the sales skills that take years to develop.
Want to develop a team with skills that will serve you well into the future? Broaden your hiring reach and use internal training to fill in the industry knowledge gap.
2. Teach, Mentor, and Coach
Your buyers, competitors, and the overall sales environment are constantly evolving—sales professionals must continue to do so as well. It’s that simple. Your competition will never stop looking for an advantage over you, so you shouldn't stop honing your team’s skills either.
Successful leaders must think outside the box on this one—it doesn’t help to be closed-minded on new ways of selling, new tools or tactics, etc. Too often, we see leaders who have a perfunctory understanding of digital selling (just as an example) and decide against a solution with minimal effort in understanding what it truly is. The result is that more innovative leaders use these tactics and strategies as advantages to take business from their competitors. Others must now work twice as hard simply to catch up. It is a foolish way to lead a team. If you are designing a sales team to serve you in the future, ensure that part of your plan is to always help your team evolve.
3. Evaluate Learning Behaviour
All of your training initiatives should provide learning metrics that can show you which individuals are eager to learn new strategies and which simply prefer to avoid it. Do you have reps who don’t see the value of updating their skills? This could be a major problem. It is a simple equation—those who seek a competitive advantage will find one and those who are not open to the idea never do. In short, the results they are producing for you currently are what you can count on for the future. Nothing more, nothing less.
If these results are not good enough now (or will fall short in the years to come), you may have to think about replacing the player at some point in the game. The only way to close this gap is to work with individuals who are willing to evolve and improve their skill sets in order to compete.
Top leaders are constantly recruiting individuals who are competitive and wish to improve. Leaders who have an unrelenting focus on recruiting and building top talent are the ones who build powerful teams with the ability to meet increased quota demands today and well into the future.