Building a High Performance B2B Sales Team: Strategies and Best Practice
Are you struggling to put together the perfect B2B sales team? Maybe you’re just starting out and looking for tips to build a sales team, or perhaps you’ve been in business for a while and you’re starting to expand. Either way, we’ve got some tips for creating an effective and high performing sales team. The importance of your sales team should never be understated: they drive the revenue into your business, and that’s why you should always aim to build a world-class team of sales professionals.
Here are some tips to make it happen.
How to build a B2B sales team
Invest in the right technology
When building a sales team, you first need to have a solid collection of tools for sales enablement that the sales staff can use. Usually, this starts with technology. Software such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are extremely useful for all sales teams. Not only do they keep customer information all in one place, and maintain accurate records of previous orders, correspondence and even customer preferences, but they can do a whole lot more.
A CRM helps you automate a lot of tasks, such as emails and even some marketing functions. Plus, you can build clear workflows into the system to help guide your sales team through their work. This ensures leads and prospective customers don’t fall through the cracks, and it also gives your customers a consistent approach.
Use data to guide your sales efforts
You can access a lot of data from your CRM, but there are plenty of other ways to access data. Some are very tech-related, while others are more manual. Any useful information that has the potential to open up leads and opportunities should be shared amongst the sales team.
As a business, you invest heavily in your sales team’s wages, but don’t forget about investing in all the background work that helps the sales team succeed. Whether it’s hiring data analysts or employing marketing teams to gather data, make sure you’re giving your sales team the best chance at generating leads and closing deals.
Invest in training and development
If you want to ensure a positive customer journey and create good customer relationships, you need to train your staff accordingly. A training and development plan is essential to keep your team performing well.
You might have regular training on specific products, or internal training that relates acutely to how your company operates. But in addition, you’ll benefit greatly from providing your staff with training opportunities for general sales skills.
The people in your sales team are all individuals, and they may all have different training needs. So, be flexible with your approach to training and development. Some courses will be mandatory, but always be open to letting your sales team expand and grow their professional skills.
Virtual training for employees is a great tool to get all your sales staff into the same training to ensure they all have the same chance of success with the services they can provide their customers. In addition, virtual training has the benefit of being flexible to fit around the ever-changing schedules of sales staff.
MCI Solutions has a wide range of virtual training options to suit your B2B business and goals.
Develop strong leaders
In the same way you want to invest in the sales skills of your team, don’t forget to invest in leadership. Even the most skilled sales reps need direction, and that’s exactly what business leaders are there for. Usually, the sales teams with the most inspiring leaders will outperform those with poor leadership.
In addition to helping your current sales leaders develop their skills, don’t forget about those aspirational leaders. You can boost employee engagement by ensuring people get opportunities to advance their careers into sales leadership positions. Offering training not only for sales but also leadership skills is a great way of ensuring your team members have job satisfaction and outstanding job performance.
Set clear targets
Every sales team has targets and KPIs, and it’s important we can track and measure progress. However, the art lies in setting the right targets. It’s not always about the dollars and cents, especially in today’s business landscape. Naturally, people need to be closing deals and bringing in sales, or their value to the sales team is diminished. However, there are plenty of other KPIs that are also important, as well as sales performance.
Consider other metrics such as lead generation, selling to new customers, overall customer experience and satisfaction, defining and meeting customer needs, effective implementation of sales strategies, selling of particular focus products, and fostering good customer relationships. Even in a month where sales professionals may have minimal sales, their hard work can still be measured.
Make sure expectations are clear and reasonable. But remember, most business is fluid. Things change from month to month, and you may have certain sales team members conducting more research tasks while leaving others to focus on the customer base. That’s why you don’t want to fall into the trap of simply looking at the dollar value of an individual’s sales.
Focus on performance management
Everybody has a bad month on occasion. Sometimes customers just don’t fall their way, or it may be an ‘off’ period in your industry. Business leaders must understand that not every month will be equal in terms of sales. However, repeated bad performance is a sign that a sales rep may need some extra performance management.
Sales is a crucial part of any business, and if people aren’t pulling their weight, you may need to let them go and bring in people who deliver the best results. The other risk of not managing poor performance is the effect it has on the rest of the team. People generally know if their colleagues are doing a good job or not, and if people regularly slack off and don’t get pulled up on it, that spreads through the team and can affect morale and productivity.
Build a robust hiring process
We just talked about the importance of managing the performance of existing sales staff, but it’s equally important to focus on hiring the right people. It’s natural that people need a little training when they start, but considering how important your sales team is, you want newbies to hit the ground running as much as possible. Often, that comes down to your recruitment processes.
There’s no secret formula to hiring a great employee. Every business is different and values different qualities. So, determine what works best for your company. Is it purely based on being a ruthless sales rep? Or do they need to have the right personality and attitude to mesh with the existing sales team members? Settle on strong hiring guidelines, and stick to them no matter what.
Think about the right time for hiring. If your business has a busy period, for example during the back to school season, make sure you’ve done all your hiring prior. You don’t want to be messing around with hiring and training sales reps when the team should be focused on optimising sales and closing deals.
Promote diversity in your teams
A diverse team is made up of people with different points of views, different experiences and different ideas. This can be very beneficial to the running of a business and the generation of fresh ideas.
Depending which industry you’re in, you’re likely to come across business clients from all different backgrounds. So, having a diverse team gives you an advantage over your competition. You can assign the right client to the right sales rep, giving you more opportunities for effective determination of qualified leads and closing deals.
Plus, diversity is simply good practice. In the pursuit of a more inclusive society, it’s in the hands of businesses to promote diversity in the workplace.
Build a team-first collaborative culture
Most sales teams are known for having some friendly competition in their ranks. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and as long as it stays good-natured, it’s a great way to motivate team members to perform at their best. However, at the end of the day, every member in sales is part of the same team. So, it’s important that your sales team can work together as one effective unit.
Sales leaders and account executives need to be able to take a back seat on occasion if doing so will help the team in closing a deal. A collaborative team is an effective team.
That means doing all the little things that make a difference. Calling a colleague’s client for them if your co-worker is sick. Assisting potential customers when they call, no matter which member of the team they’ve spoken to before. At the end of the day, results are attached to the whole team, not just one individual. As they say, a champion team beats a team of champions every day of the week.
Align B2B sales strategy with the overall business strategy
B2B sales processes should be streamlined and understood by the entire sales team. A sound B2B sales strategy is vital in creating a sales funnel which opens the business up for future growth. An effective sales professional will understand the sales strategy of the business, and keep it in mind in all their customer interactions.
Consider looping the marketing team and B2B sales team in together so that both can work towards the same shared goals for lead generation, reaching the target market, ensuring customer success and bringing in potential buyers.
In today’s market, social media can make all the difference in business and B2B sales. A sound sales strategy and understanding from the marketing team can ensure that the tool of social media is used effectively. Best practices for collaborative working yields best results.
The sales strategy should complement the overall strategy of a business. The sales team should see themselves as part of the larger team, rather than just sticking to their own department.
B2B businesses geared up for success
B2B companies rely on having a cohesive team to ensure success and growth. Knowing how to build a strong B2B sales team is vital for an effective and successful sales cycle and for closing deals.
MCI Solutions offers training solutions to suit your sales team. Continuous learning and development of skills in sales and leadership can help ensure your sales team is not only effective at bringing in sales, but also set up for future growth.