How To Build A High Performing Software Sales Team
A high performing software sales team needs a high performing manager. One cannot exist without the other. So how do you become the manager your team desperately needs in order to succeed?
Here are eight winning strategies to lead a sales team towards success.
1. Identify your team’s strengths and weaknesses.
You’ll need to do this at a macro and micro level. The first step is to run an assessment of your team’s overall performance. What does the team do well, and where are the skill and aptitude gaps across the group? The next is to consult with each team member individually.
- Where do they think their strengths and weaknesses as salespeople lie?
- What do they feel is standing in the way of their success?
- What do they think they need to learn in order to get better results?
- How do they like to be managed?
- What are their career and personal goals?
- What motivates them?
This information-gathering session will garner a lot of information you’ll need for the next step.
2. Create a development and coaching strategy.
Each member of the team will require a personally tailored development strategy.
You’ll find that motivators and management preferences vary significantly between individuals. Some salespeople like regular feedback and support, others are highly autonomous and may interpret your frequent support as interference.
Some of your team will be highly motivated by financial incentives (a very common one in software salespeople!), while others may be more motivated by mastering their sales skills or improving their knowledge of the software they’re selling and the wider tech field.
Obviously, career goals and personal goals will vary enormously between individuals, whether that’s becoming sales manager in 3 years, or paying off a mortgage (or both.) When you know what drives your team members to come to work, you’ll have a better idea how to encourage them to strive and be resilient in the face of setbacks.
What can you offer them to build their skills and/or confidence as salespeople? Are there conferences or networking events they can attend? Tech or sales publications you can recommend?
Whatever you do, you’ll need to create a learning culture in your team if you want them to sustain high performance over the long term.
3. Set a team culture…and live up to it.
It’s very popular to talk about company culture at present. But it’s not enough to talk about it. You need to set the example as a manager of living that sales culture, and then do everything you can to reinforce it.
When your company decides on a culture, you need to hire based on that culture. You need to train people up to perform in that culture. You need to make sure that all your team decisions are framed within that culture too.
What’s your sales culture? Talk about what it is currently, and what you’d like it to be.
4. Don’t let everybody dance to their own tune.
You don’t need to be micromanaging your team (it won’t work anyway!), and you don’t need everyone to be having the same style of pitching.
The process of sales management, however, should be systematic. Do an audit of the sales process, and train everyone to at least follow the same steps, in the same order, even if their sales style is different. This makes it a lot easier for you to recognise where people need extra training, or where they might be keeping a prospect on the hook for too long.
5. Know how to set goals effectively
A high performing software sales manager understands that there are three levels of effective goal setting:
- Team, and
The masterful sales manager is not only crystal clear on the company goal, but they know how to ‘translate’ this company goal down to team level, thereby creating a shared goal to strive towards together.
The real trick (and this one separates the average manager from the great one) is then taking the team goal, and tailoring it to each individual, so they know how their work is important to the team goal, and the wider company goal.
This is where the time you took chatting to each team member really comes in useful, as you can also cleverly tie the company goals and team goals in with the employee’s personal and career goals.
In this way, a great manager can create a solid sense of ‘why’ in every team member’s mind: they now know why they are doing their work, how it matters to the team and company, and how it fits in with their personal goals.
6. Pick the metrics that matter.
It’s a fine balance as a sales manager. You need to be across the sales data, so you can identify opportunities and weaknesses, but you need to be careful not to get bogged down in data either. You need to have significant time left to put the data to work by creating a strategy and coaching your team to improve their performance.
Take the time to analyse which metrics are genuinely impacting your team’s performance, and which are simply interesting stats that take up a lot of your time.
7. Reward the hard workers, not just the high achievers.
Sales is a team endeavour, and while the bonus scheme should predominantly reward the sales stars who achieve their targets, a healthy team also recognises the people who try. The person who organises all the birthdays in the team, or, the person who may not be the best closer but offers great insights on tech trends or rival company software. These people are very valuable to the health and success of your team, so find a way to reward them!
8. Make it easy to respect you.
This last point could easily be an article of its own, but it cannot be emphasised enough how important it is that your team feel that you are approachable, trustworthy, knowledgeable, and willing to admit fault.
Your door should always be open, and you must be enthusiastic about coaching your team to be the best they can be. As a leader, you cannot engage in office favouritism or backstabbing, and you need to be someone that the team can turn to with their questions.
Perhaps the essential quality of a manager is to be able to show vulnerability. Your willingness to admit that you do not know something or have made a mistake will create genuine human bonds of loyalty between you and your team and create a positive role model for them to follow.
Being in charge of a sales team is a great responsibility and an exciting one, so how will you coach your team to be the best they can be?
Until next time,
LivRecruit specialise in Inside Sales, Senior Sales and Technology Recruitment. The LivRecruit team is based in Greater Manchester and have over 17 years’ experience providing recruitment solutions for technology companies across the UK.
If you are looking for the right new hire for your technology team or want to take your career to the next level call us on 0161 883 2856 or email us here.