How CEOs Build a High-Performing Sales Team

Mary Grothe

08 December 2020

Is your sales team missing its sales targets? Has your sales team repeatedly failed to achieve quota? Have you invested in the same or different sales training programs year over year without seeing results? 

You’re not alone.

We’ve been tackling revenue growth problems for the past three years. Most CEOs between $5 million and $20 million in revenue that we speak with have been trying to solve this problem the same outdated way for years.

They keep looking for that sales unicorn that will manually build lead lists, prospect manually, and do everything else manually and as a result yield extremely limited results. They want to pay this person a decent base salary and actually say things like, “Well, doesn’t that base salary pay for them to build their list and prospect?”

In theory, sure. But the real problem is that sales unicorns don’t exist anymore. We call them the salesperson of yesteryear. Over the past 10 years, a different type of salesperson has grown up through the ranks. They didn’t have to carry around a phone book and walk door to door, cold calling. They don't have a paper notebook with written names and phone numbers. 

Since they’ve started selling, they’ve had a laptop with a CRM that's loaded with prospects to call, an automated email tool, and a marketing department to support them with leads. Many have also been supported by an outbound prospecting team. 

You want to attract the best sales talent, but they don’t want to work for a company that hasn’t invested in building a modern sales department.

It's 2021 — it's time to invest in your revenue ecosystem.

High-performing sales teams look different than they did 10 years ago.

Take the money you're losing in paying salespeople's high base salaries for manual prospecting efforts they either don't do or aren't effective in doing and invest in your inbound marketing funnel and RevOps automation from the first customer touchpoint through renewal or offboarding. 

Then, watch your salespeople double, triple, or even quadruple their results when they get to show up to a calendar of qualified sales meetings instead of sitting there sending individual emails to bad email addresses to prospects who died 10 years ago.

Sales training alone won’t fix your revenue problems.

Sales coaching alone won’t fix your revenue problems.

A new sales playbook won’t fix your revenue problems.

Today’s typical salesperson who is rising through the ranks had a computer in their house growing up, a cell phone was given to them at a young age, they had access to the internet for school and work, and most professional jobs they’ve had have plugged them into a technology-driven ecosystem built for scale and success.

They may be tech-savvy and looking for the best sales tech stack, automation, and inbound lead flow, but that doesn’t mean they’re perfectly capable of selling. However, because of that tech-saturated environment that they grew up in, this same salesperson has weaknesses.

They may lack basic communication skills. They may lack confidence. They may not be complex problem solvers. They may not have faced a lot of rejection, as everyone wins a ribbon for participating these days. They may lack the IQ and foundational business acumen and skills required to speak intelligently in front of your prospects. They may lack EQ and be unaware of how to read their prospect’s emotions.

And most concerningly, many lack BQ, the behavioral quotient. The most important of the quotients. It’s the "get-up-and-go"; the conscious decision to perform at one’s highest ability every day. It’s the “make-or-break” for high-performance sales.

Today’s sales teams need a different approach to coaching and training. Want them to win? Follow this process.

1. Fix Their Ecosystem First

It’s pointless to spend money on sales training to train up a sales rep and then put them back into their archaic, clunky sales environment. Invest in the right RevOps technology stack that automates as many manual steps of their sales process as possible. Enhance your sales process and make each selling stage realistic and clear. Build a gate around each selling stage so everyone knows exactly when a prospect can progress to the next stage. 

Then, build a sales playbook, with the team’s buy-in, that follows both a proven process and methodology for winning more sales. First, the playbook should include mapping out each rep’s day-to-day responsibilities, time management, performance criteria to which they’re managed, and an easy-to-follow dashboard or scorecard so they always know how they’re performing. 

Next, the playbook needs a custom-built approach for selling every type of buyer persona within each targeted ideal customer profile. Your sales reps should have a clear play-by-play outline, including scripting and messaging, of the entire sales process from start to finish that is built for each type of sale. Meaning, the way they sell to a CFO of a 200-employee manufacturing business is different than how they sell to an IT Director of a 10,000-employee oil and gas company. Do the hard work for your sales team. Build a playbook for your most common selling scenarios, and train them to the specific requirements of their job.

Don’t throw them in a group two-day sales training class where only theory is taught, they have the tough job of translating the trainer’s training into something meaningful and specific to their world, and then forget 90% of it the next day anyway.

2. Build a Culture of Accountability, Coaching, and Development — Not Management

Once your ecosystem and infrastructure are rebuilt, it’s time to train up your sales management team … and yes, I realize that might be you, as the CEO, depending on your current size and structure.

You need to shift your thinking away from managing the number to empowering, coaching, and developing each individual sales team member based on their unique profile, skills, abilities, motivation style, and areas of improvement. Each rep needs an individual learning and development plan. To build this, conduct a data-driven analysis based on their past performance as well as a subjective analysis. Attend or listen back to real sales calls and meetings. Compile your feedback and debrief the sales conversation with your rep. Identify key areas where they can improve and give them a roadmap to do it.

Avoid long group sales training sessions that don’t move the needle for everyone. Get specific. Carve up 15- to 20-minute weekly sales training topics on the exact needs of your team. Train them immersion-learning style, meaning a little at a time so they can learn it, practice it, perfect it, and master it. They’ll be more energized by this style of training and coaching because it is built for them and helps move the needle on their performance, quickly.

Building a culture of accountability requires your management layer to overcome any fears they have of communicating critical feedback. Remember that lack of communication skills and confidence I mentioned earlier? Your management team may suffer from it too and your sales team will never improve if your management layer can't hold them accountable with repercussions for lack of performance.

3. Create a Culture of Celebration and Camaraderie

Too often, salespeople are treated only as good as their last month’s sales performance. Most CEOs and sales leaders are quick to blow past celebrating wins and keep their focus on the next win. This is draining and demotivating for your sales team. Identify each sales team member's style of motivation and adopt a culture of appreciation, acknowledgment, and celebration.

In this virtual world, salespeople need camaraderie and support. Most salespeople are extroverts. That means they crave social interaction and conversation. Being isolated can be detrimental to their wellbeing and performance. Be sure your management team and members of the sales team communicate often, are connected with them via phone, Slack, or other tools besides Zoom, which can be draining. Have your team find a way to connect and align with how they are doing and be a resource for their emotional and mental health, as much as you feel comfortable with tackling that internally. Create a pathway to HR or external resources to support their well-being during this time.

Fun fact: CSO Insights states, as of 2019, that only 54% of salespeople achieve their quota. In 2020, 78% of our clients’ salespeople achieved quota, resulting in millions of dollars of revenue sold, 24% above the national average. Not to mention, with our holistic revenue scaling approach, most clients, on average, achieve 2x MRR within 8-10 months of working with us.

If you’re interested in scheduling a conversation with someone on our House of Revenue™ team, contact us now.