Driving your sales team to success with the right support

Companies in any industry are heavily reliant on their sales teams to bring in revenue. That means a lot of responsibility and pressure on sales managers and individual team members alike.

Mangers naturally want to encourage their teams to succeed, but that’s easier said than done. Some, in a bid to motivate their team to success, become complete slave drivers and morale plummets. Others, often under the guise of “empowerment”, take such a laid-back approach that their salespeople lack any kind of direction.

No doubt you have experienced both at some point – directly or otherwise – and understand the barriers to success that these management styles present.

The middle ground, where successful individuals drive a successful company, takes support from management, investment in training, and strong mentorship.

What does success look like?

Before you start thinking about HOW to become more successful, you need to define WHAT success actually looks like for your team.

Every company will have a different perspective on this, and that perspective will shift as the company develops. Are you pushing for more new business or retention and growth of existing customers? What combination of small and large clients would suit you best?

Whatever you decide, make sure your team is working towards a unified view of success.

Finding the sweet spot for sales support

If you want to increase your sales ROI, you can begin by looking at your sales support. Research shows that sales reps spend on average just 41% of their time actually selling; the rest is taken up by things like admin, research, and meetings. With the right support, that percentage can be much higher.

But take it too far and your ROI will drop because you’re employing too many staff. So what is the right balance for driving productivity and growth?

A study by Harvard Business Review found that technology companies with the highest sales ROI have around 50-60% of their staff in non-quota-carrying support roles.

The difference seems to lie mainly in the proportion of operations and administrative staff a tech company employs. The most successful dedicate around 27% of their staff to these roles, whereas the average among their peers is just 12%.

If your organization falls below the 50-60% mark, this could be seriously hampering the productivity of the people whose job it is to do the selling.

Supporting salespeople who work remotely

Digital technology is transforming how we do business in so many ways. One obvious benefit for remote sales teams is the ability to keep in touch via group chat and video calling. But it doesn’t take much for this constant communication to become a distraction, reducing the amount of work a person actually gets done.

Consider whether you’re investing in technology that supports your sales team rather than adding to their workload.

E-learning tools are a great way to make training more accessible and significantly increase retention rates. Managers track how each salesperson is progressing through the training, so they can support those who are struggling and offer further specialist training to those who excel.

Some companies are even starting to use VR and AR to enhance remote teaching and make distance less of an obstacle.

Nurturing a mentoring culture

A good mentoring program can boost staff development and success and also reinforce training. Where employees feel supported in this way they are more likely to stay with your company for longer, which is exactly what you want after you have invested in their education.

How you go about establishing a mentorship scheme will depend on the size and structure of your company. You may pair a new salesperson with a more senior member of staff, or you might invest in a “virtual mentoring” program from a third party.

Either way, embed mentoring into your company culture rather than making it an afterthought – this way, your staff know they have this support mechanism.

By combining all of these factors effectively, you create a work environment where your staff can be pushed that bit harder because they know you are invested in their success.

Leadership competencies need to keep up with a more complex, volatile and unpredictable business environment.

Each time we think we have levelled up, there is a new normal even more uncertain, complex and ambiguous than before. Here at AS Schneider, adaptive thinking is encouraged to manage complexities across organisational boundaries & collaboration in network thinking.

Initially posted on LinkedIn