Despite the churn and the complexities that our business ecosystem has witnessed in recent years, there is one fundamental truth that remains true till date- “nothing can happen unless somebody sells something.”

If you wish to have a sales team that can deliver consistently high results, you must begin with creating a high-performance sales organization.

What are the Key Characteristics of the highest performing sales team?

Let’s have a look at the key traits of the high performing sales team and what differentiates them from the average ones.

Working on them will not only help you foster a culture where people are passionate to achieve their goals.

#1. Define your sales culture and hire according to it

What is your sales culture?

Is it collaborative or competitive or a healthy mix of both. What is your salespeople’s attitude towards the prospects and clients? Does “helping clients succeed” takes priority over “meeting quotas at all cost” or the other way around? How important is the element of fun?

Once you nail down the culture, hiring the right people who fit your culture becomes easy.

#2. Have Structured Sales Processes

According to research by the Sales Management Association, 90% of all companies that use structured, guided and formal sales process are ranked high performing.

(A sales process typically consists of 5-7 steps: Generating Leads/ prospecting; Qualifying leads, recognizing needs; providing the solution; managing objections, closing and supporting.)

Why sales structure is a key characteristic of high performing sales teams:

  • A structured process will help in clearly breaking down the steps of selling while identifying the best practices for each stage in the cycle.
  • A high performing sales team involves reps who are extremely driven and goal oriented. A structured sales process makes it more satisfying for the team to track progress in a concrete way.
  • Having the sales steps clearly laid out in a detailed manner makes training new hires much simple for managers and less overwhelming for salespeople.

#3. Equip Your Team with Enablement Tools

Once the groundwork of hiring the right people for your sales team and process mapping is complete, it’s time to equip the team with smart tools to ensure they are able to manage the timelines and deliver quality work.

While there can be no dearth of smart technology-driven tools you wish to provide your sales team with, make sure not to miss out on these essential tools that will leverage technology to more win-win deals. These are:

CRM: CRM (customer-relationship-management) software’s with facilities such as email management and tracking, SMS functionality, phone-calling are a lifeboat to any sales team.

Smart Contact Management: These take away the daunting task of manual entries allowing sales reps to give more time to selling.

Productivity Suite: These tools can enhance sales performance and are a must to have for your sales team. Some popular productivity tools are:

  • Business email such as Gmail
  • Document Management Tools such as PandaDoc
  • Video Conferencing tools such as Zoho or Slack
  • Cloud Storage Google Drive, Dropbox
  • Calendar Solutions such as Zoho Calendar

These tools can help in turning sales conversations into pitches,  reducing the sales cycle, identifying potential leads, and more.

#4. Employ a Robust Coaching Methodology

Roughly three fourths (74 percent) of leading companies have said that regular coaching and monitoring are crucial for the sales team to perform well consistently.

In order to get a better sense of what a strong sales coaching looks like, here are some examples:

  • Reviewing a call session with the salesperson on what went wrong and coming up with areas where improvement can be done
  • Conducting a weekly in-meeting-talks about the areas of sales where reps are less confident and then discussing strategies to boost confidence
  • Accompanying reps on the field for mentoring and motivation

Ask your sales team if they are being trained and coached well and if they can tie to it to accelerate performance.

#5. Implement data-driven accountability

It is important to build a common understanding of core metrics with your sales team.

Developing a clear understanding of sales metrics brings every team member on the same page.

The right metric can depend on sales organization, company or industry. I am listing down some important sales metrics that matter the most:

Quota Attainment: This refers to the percentage of sales reps meeting the quota that reflects if the quotes are too low or high.

Going by the rule of thumb, the quotas are considered to be unrealistic if less than 60% is met. This also lets you decide to whether to hire better salespeople or fire the underperformers.

Average Deal Size: This is calculated by dividing the total amount of deals (in dollars) with the total number of deals closed.

Looking at this metric tells whether the contracts are getting larger, smaller or are still the same.

Moreover, if you find that the average deal size of a sales rep is less than the team average, it could mean the person is going too fast with low payback customers and needs to push aggressively towards more competitive or large customers. It could even mean he is discounting quickly.

Conversion Rates: Also called the “win rate”, this measures the percentage of leads turning to customers.

This metric lets one calculate how many leads need to be converted to meet the revenue targets. For e.g.:  If your monthly team quota is $600,000 and the average deal size is $1000, the team need to close 600 deals.  And if 10% of your leads are turning to customers, you need 6,000 leads per month.

#6. Allow Some Room for Growth

Being a sales leader, coming out with solutions to every problem is not very impressive, on the contrary, it’s obsolete and wrong.  

To improve engagement, ask your sales team to come up with their own solutions.

For instance, you can say “Team, we have scored low on this aspect, what should we start doing or change to improve?

Also, do not forget “not to sweat the small stuff”, be comfortable with the 10% that did not go according to the plan as it will make the 90% that went well more enjoyable for everyone around.

#7. Arm your team with true feedback

Sales leaders often fail to give the time on feedback, however, it can bring a great difference not only for individual reps but also for the team as a whole.

Most often we think of feedback as positive or negative, but here’s a new way to consider while giving employee feedback: redirecting or reinforcing.

Reinforcing feedback is when we want someone to keep doing a particular positive behavior. In other words, giving it means verbally reinforcing the positive effects of an employee action.

On the other hand, if we are sticking only to negative feedback that means we are only telling them to stop doing a particular action. With redirecting feedback, we are telling a rep to stop doing X and start practicing Y.

Examples of Feedback:

1. Something that I really appreciate about you is the knack to approaching problems and the zeal to come up with witty solutions! [Reinforcing feedback]

2.  I strongly feel you have a superpower around making customers feel convinced and influenced while selling products. [Reinforcing feedback]

3.   Do you have a minute to catch up on how X went? ( This is a good way to get started after a sales project or presentation and then come up with areas of improvement you wish to direct your team.) [Redirecting feedback]

#8. Share positive customer stories to instill motivation

Are you familiar with the phrase, “Sales is the hardest easy job in the world?” Behind every cold call, there is a challenge waiting to get solved.

Given the enormous dedication with which salesperson is constantly trying to get their numbers down, it can sometimes feel like a vicious cycle of thankless grind!

Having a regular meeting to share positive customer stories and how the company’s product is improving the lives of thousands around, can go a long way in much-needed motivation for sales reps.

It can help the sales team to push themselves while facing new challenges and reminding them what they are doing really makes some difference in the world and lives of people.

#9. Modernize Your Approach to Leadership

A sales leader or manager is the often considered responsible for ‘raising the bar of the company’.

With engagement and feedback culture increasingly spreading, any modern-day sales team requires proactive and responsible leadership.

Modern-day sales leaders need to be emotionally intelligent to break through the “quintessential mold of rigid sales leadership”.  

They should be assertive enough to state what they need clearly and at the same time should combine it with empathy to make tough conversations whenever necessary.  

Leaders should focus on empowering teams through monitoring, coaching, support that can shape their team’s success while bringing milestones for the organization.

#10. Do not forget to have fun together

A high-performance sales team is not limited to the competency of individuals comprising it but a spirit where collaboration is appreciated to achieve shared gain.

The best teams are not willing to just work together but also enjoy and have fun together.

The bonding can happen by allowing a fun environment to prosper from time to time. The approach to creating it can vary, say some companies do it through their an annual sales kick-off event, some do it by hosting a sports match at tropical locations while others do it by conducting a fancy dress day in office.

Whatever be the way, the goal is to foster better relationships among professionals giving them space to build rapport outside their work environment.

Summing Up

Having said enough, it’s not hard to understand that why teams selling works exceptionally well for some companies and is a complete failure for others. The keys to success for modern-day sales teams begins with identifying sales culture and hiring accordingly; incorporating structured processes; employing robust coaching methodology; implementing data-driven accountability; allowing room for growth; giving consistent feedback and modernizing your way to leadership.

Employing the above strategies will not only help in building high performing sales teams for your organization but also fuel in new energy and zest ensuring that the overall atmosphere of the company is positively impacted.