10 Ways to Boost the Performance of a Sales Team
Being a member of a team that is underperforming is something that we have all gone through at some point in our career. In the world of sales, teamwork can make the difference between a failing business and one with an abundance of sales.
A team can be affected in turn by a number of factors. These can range from petty jealousy or envy of more successful salespeople to systemic failures in communication and cooperation. The following 10 ways to boost the performance of a sales team can turn a damaged and dysfunctional dealership into a well-oiled machine that consistently produces sales as a team.
1. Individual objectives, common goal
Every person has his or her own work ethic. The differences can be barriers to efficient communication and thus set the whole team back. Another difficulty comes with evaluation. Because not everyone does the same thing within the team, you cannot compare apples to oranges. The key to solving this problem is setting individual objectives and integrating them in the pursuit of a common goal. In our industry, this translates to the separation of tasks.
2. Layers of evaluation
In continuation of the first point, although every employee receives individual objectives, these have to be judged within the performance of the whole team. Setting individual objectives removes almost all the downsides of teamwork. A salesperson will be appreciated for his or her own performance as usual, but will naturally feel the need — not the obligation — to help out the other members of the team. This strategy will make the more talented salespeople help their colleagues boost their own sales.
3. Common schedule
By structuring meeting times better, you will be inducing a level of punctuality and discipline that is required by every well-oiled machine. With a common daily meeting agenda, every member of the sales team will know the whereabouts and tasks of the others. This will enhance the level of coordination and trust, leading to better cooperation and more sales. Knowing that a colleague is out in the field on a test drive or pursuing a lead may not seem important at first. An employee, however, who is aware of the activities of the team, and thus of the dealership, is more likely to be satisfied.
4. No preferential treatment
Some managers believe that by rewarding the more successful members of their sales team, they will incentivize the others to follow suit. This strategy works only on some people, while on the rest it has entirely the opposite result. Envy and animosities follow preferential treatment, making teamwork almost impossible. For car salespeople, unlike other professions, success is easily measurable — the more cars you sell, the more recognition you receive. Signs of special treatment from management, however, can only alienate a team member from the others on the team. For that reason, special treatment should not be given.
5. Pairings and partnerships
In sales, we get to hear rejection a lot. Despite the experience we gather or the developed ability to block off emotions from work, this might affect members of the sales team and bring down the attitude of the whole group. In order to keep the spirits up, you should encourage pairings and partnerships between salespeople. This means that they will be working closer to one another, tackling or at least formulating difficult sales pitches together. Although assigning two salespeople to a customer may seem like overkill, sometimes tagging in a colleague can make all the different. Above all, having a partner system provides support to the members of your team and builds trust among them.
6. Incentivize teams
Just as you convince customers to enter your showroom, so too can you motivate members of your sales team to work more efficiently. While this is usually the purpose of the commission, the bonus they receive upon each sale does not motivate people to work as a team. If you divide your entire sales team into sub-groupings of two or three people and judge them separately — not in terms of financial rewards, but accomplishments — you will be encouraging beneficial and friendly competition. If the system is effective, you could even rotate the members of the teams in order to make sure that animosities do not occur.
7. Sales coach
Naming a sales coach, who has no actual managerial powers but takes part in the operations of the team, can greatly boost the performance of a team. Picking out one member of the team might seem to be preferential treatment at first, but the other employees certainly will not consider it a promotion. Most people do not have the level of empathy or interpersonal skills to be coaches to others, however, much less to their professional peers. Bringing someone from the outside to regularly hand out encouragement and pep talks may be advisable. The trick is to distance any sort of management control from the coach. Otherwise, the others will see the him or her as just another supervisor.
8. Early intervention
Much like artists or performers, salespeople can sometimes experience down periods in their jobs. This period is defined by few sales and rude clients. This can send them in a downward spiral of failure and self-sabotage. It is important to get ahead of these situations by keeping track of every individual employee. Sharp changes in an employee's performance often signals that something has happened. If offering support does not work, you should do the difficult thing, and cut your losses.
9. Keep the rhythm
A team is at its best when it is coordinated. Coordination, in turn, is accomplished via rigorous standards and schedules. Another method to keep the team in line and up to the sale quotas and requirements is by tracking sales and providing instant feedback. In this way, your salespeople will know exactly what is expected and demanded of them. Rule out any problematic patterns of behavior by individuals early on, and discourage bad habits such as habitual lateness, and you will end up with a high-performing sales team.
10. Wiggle room
Although thorough organization and micromanagement can work wonders with a sales team, there also has to be a kind of wiggle room in which individuals can express a personal touch. Complex sales processes or unusually tough customers can add difficulty to a sale, and have to be dealt with in personalized ways. Schools emphasize the importance of teamwork early on in life, with games and exercises meant to inspire cooperation. As adults, however, we drift apart from one another, no matter our activity or personality. But working in a sales team is an extension of living in a community, and done correctly, is both effective and satisfying.
Abigail Owens is an e-commerce consultant. She started as a social media specialist and gradually learned everything about what it takes to launch and promote a product. She wants to share her expertise on business matters in order to help others make the right decisions for their needs. Contact her at [email protected].