Blog · Jul 3, 2015

Building an Effective Sales Team – High Performing Teams

Steps to building an effective sales team

In today’s world, most sales teams are under constant pressure to achieve ever greater results. Building an effective sales team that will regularly achieve the goals they are set may be an aspiration of many team leaders – but it is also a challenge. How many teams in your organisation are achieving the targets that are set? What makes the difference between a high performing team and one that struggles to meet the expectations of the board room?

In our experience, one of the keys to motivating a sales team is helping them to maintaining a laser like focus on what’s really important. The first step is often to stand back and identify the things that make them tick as individuals – helping them to answer the question “What’s in it for me?”. From that process, you can begin to agree the actions that will bring you results and move you closer to your personal and company objectives.

In the classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People Dale Carnegie described the 30 principles that highly successful people followNearly 80 years on, the book remains a key text in marketing and management courses around the world. We were interested to compare these with our own Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? Performance Principles and see how much has changed in the intervening years.

Focus on what’s important

The first of the Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? Performance Principles is focus on what’s important, This may sound obvious but actually stepping back and achieving this focus can make a huge difference to the performance of your sales team. Carnegie makes the same point consistently throughout How to Win Friends and Influence People urging readers to focus on techniques that work. One of these is arousing a want in your potential customer.

Again, that may sound blindingly obvious, but if you don’t make your potential customer aware of why they want your product, then you’re going to have a very difficult time selling them anything. It can be far too easy to become caught up in the process of sales, than to focus on performance and the actions that actually close those sales and bring results.

Focus on performance – it brings results

Traditionally, sales teams have been results focused. A salesperson will be tasked with bringing in a certain number of sales or a certain amount of revenue every month. Often this focus on results can become overwhelming, and can have a negative impact on the performance itself. When Ben and the team were training for the Sydney Olympics in 2000 they had to focus on every aspect of performance to change their usual results. In his book “Will It Make The Boat Go Faster?” Ben writes:

“When I tried to race and beat the other boats, I slipped behind. When I focused on getting my arms in the right position and rotating my body, I held my ground or moved ahead.”

You can apply the exactly same principle to your sales team. Carnegie brings it up in his book. He talks about how small changes that salespeople can make in order to close sales and improve their results rather than the results themselves. When they focus on the small actions – like engaging properly with potential customers and identifying their personal motivators – their performance will improve. If they are solely focussed on meeting that month’s target by any means possible their performance will most likely slip.


Work effectively as a team

Sales teams can be incredibly competitive. Whilst there are certainly advantages to encouraging healthy competition between sales representatives, as a manager you need to be sure that this competition isn’t damaging the overall performance of the team. Carnegie’s book takes an individualistic approach to performance, but if you’re managing multiple people it’s critical that they are able to work together effectively. It’s worth considering whether you could set group goals and targets that would encourage team working within the organisation.

We work with organisations in all sectors to help them create high performing teams. If you’d like to talk to us about how we can help your team to reach its full potential then please get in touch with us. We’d be delighted to hear from you.

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