Developing extraordinary sales teams is an integral part of every manager’s responsibilities. There are endless ways to go about looking for account managers, however, good company executives know how to focus their efforts to engage in the most efficient methods possible to build an incredibly successful sales team.
One of the keys is tapping into the relationships you’ve already formed with your clients, other successful salespeople, managers or people within your own professional network or industry and to generate some referrals. You should know that having already established working relationships with these people and hopefully sharing the same standards or experiences, puts you are in a position to expand upon their networks and develop a larger talent pool from which to draw.
Successful managers go about developing or expanding a sales team with a holistic approach. Anyone that can help you engage in new business development, client retention, sales and service, should be considered a part of your team. Is everyone under your supervision, from the receptionist on up, a seller? Does everyone put their best face forward whenever dealing with a potential client? Does everyone reflect your attitude?…your ethics?…your passion?
You need to find new ways to look at possible candidates when you’re building your team. In my experience, you can teach a good salesperson about any product, but you can’t instill the “fire in the belly” attitude (and aptitude) to someone who just doesn’t have it in their DNA. Every industry has different products or services but a great salesperson knows how to present, propose and close with passion, enthusiasm and empathy.
When I interview a possible candidate, I like to have an initial interview alone and ask the usual questions: why are you leaving your current company? Tell me how you sell? What makes you the best candidate for this job? Where do you want to be in one year? Tell me about your job history, etc., etc.
But on the second interview, I ask another manager or even another salesperson to do the interview so that I can just sit there, watch and listen.
I observe: how are they dressed? Are their shoes shined? Would I be proud to have them represent me and my company? How do they respond to the interviewer’s questions? Can they think on their feet? Do they communicate well? Do they listen and then rephrase back to the interviewer? Do they have a philosophy of optimism? Do they lean forward when they interact with the interviewer? Are they able to project a general knowledge of the industry? Do you think they can project that knowledge into a future understanding of marketplace or industry developments that will enable them to uncover valuable new business opportunities? And most importantly: Do they ask for the job?
What else do I look for? Here are the following attributes of success:
They work hard. And they play hard, too. They aren’t complainers; they expect no less than extraordinary performance from themselves. They are strivers and drivers. They set their own personal goals high and they usually reach them.
They are eager to learn new things. They ask questions are always eager to up their game. They apply what they learn to create and build their client base and their own knowledge base. They are always curious.
They respond to clients quickly. They always return phone calls. They always under promise and over deliver. Successful salespeople observe industry trends, notice the changes or upgrades, and hear the nuances that others miss.
They ask “what can I do to make a difference?” They combine their need to succeed with the needs of their clients to be successful. By focusing on filling the client’s needs, they become successful themselves. These people look in the mirror every morning and they make sure that the person they see looking back at them is the kind of person they want to be, that they respect and believe in. This way they’re able to fortify themselves against everyday temptations–to do things that are popular or easier or quicker, rather than right.
They know how to network. Yes, it’s really a skill. They know lots of different kinds of people. They value relationships. Successful salespeople have an address book full of contacts that value their friendship and return their calls.
They are unusually and quite obviously creative. They see possibilities, new opportunities and challenges where others may see limitations and roadblocks. They are not afraid or embarrassed to ask for advice, try new things out, consult other people and they are always looking for a better or faster way to complete a task.
They take responsibility for their actions. Successful salespeople don’t worry about who to blame. They don’t have time for that! They make decisions quickly then move on to the next item on their plate. They take the initiative and accept the risks that go along with striving for success, making decisions and moving determinedly along a path.
They keep their perspective. Even in times of stress, successful salespeople keep their life-balance. They know the value of timing, humor, and “down” time. They rarely panic and are able to make sound decisions and work through issues, even in crisis mode.
They work on self-improvement. Successful salespeople work on their personality traits both good and bad, their leadership skills, and other everyday details of their lives. Successful salespeople don’t tolerate flaws; they fix them. They avoid negative people who can bring them down or distract them. They accept the occasional self-doubts, but they don’t give in to them–they just acknowledge them and move on.
They live for “right now.” They know that “right now” is the only time they have any control over. They have a knack for looking people in the eye, listening to what is being said, and taking full advantage of every opportunity. They use their time wisely. They believe that they are in charge of their personal and professional goals, their thoughts or “self-talk,” and their behavior and its effect on clients and prospects.
They are confident without being egocentric. They have a strength that they draw on to help get them through hard challenges and risks. They are fully aware of their own strengths and weaknesses. They want to “win” by doing the right thing; by helping people use their products or services and getting a good return on their investment.
If you as a manager or company executive use the resources available to you and if you develop the skills to find, interview and hire the right people, you will be able to develop an extraordinary sales team that embraces your company initiatives and leverages their abilities and your products or services into greater success.