Building a High Performing Sales Team: Where to Start

shoes are lined up against a red line entitled "Start Here"

In some ways it is easier to build a high performing sales team from the start than to inherit one with all its ingrown quirks and idiosyncrasies. That way you don’t have to adjust to anyone else’s idea of what it takes to succeed. You get the chance to make your own success (and make your own mistakes).

At whatever point you have joined the process—creating a high performance team out of the ether or fine-tuning an existing one—here are some tips on how to fashion the high performing team of your dreams.

1. Get smart.
Use your network of contacts and any other resources at your disposal. This means asking for help from people you trust who have the experience you need. Listen and learn. You can save yourself a whole boatload of trouble by avoiding the mistakes they have made and by taking advantage of what they learned as a result. And do your homework by researching the experts on how to build a high performing team and what you need for success.

2. Get the right talent.
To hire well is hard. Even the best interviewers struggle to consistently identify and hire “A” players. The key is to follow a fair and proven process for uncovering the truth behind the resume and the candidate’s attempts to impress. A behavior-based interviewing training program would be well worth the investment. You will learn how to create a job profile against which you will measure a candidate’s core competencies, and you will learn how to probe for attitude and cultural fit, not just skills and experience. You want someone who is coachable, who shares your values, who is committed to your organization’s mission and goals, and who has an entrepreneurial spirit.

And even as you work to bring aboard top talent, don’t shy away from saying good-bye to someone who does not measure up. As soon as you realize you have made a mistake in hiring—because the new hire is not a cultural fit or because they don’t share your work ethic or because they simply can’t perform to the established standards—let them go.

3. Get set to succeed.
Make sure you give your team the tools they need to succeed. This will involve technology that will make their job easier and save valuable customer-facing time. It may also require some solution selling training to see that you are all using the same sales process and the same language. Use a variety of instructional design techniques such as pre-work, scenarios, simulations, practice, roleplaying, videotaping, coaching and job-aids to help you all pull in the same direction.

4. Get clear leading and lagging success metrics in place.
Set clear and specific expectations for performance. This could include achievable revenue targets that allow for a ramp-up period, number of calls per week, number of customer meetings per month, etc. Then hold each team member accountable for hitting those numbers.

5. Get communicating.
Talk with your team individually and as a group. Learn what makes them tick and what they need to stay motivated. Listen for concerns and deal with them right away. Establish an environment where questions are welcome and ideas for improvement are openly discussed. A sales team that is willing to learn can continuously improve.

 Benchmark your sales practices now.

Download free sales toolkit now.

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LSA’s consultant designed and delivered a half-day team building solution for our recent conference. It included careful customization to integrate the design with our new mission and values. Everyone had fun and identified key issues with our teamwork. Altogether a great program!

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LSA is an instrumental training outsourcing partner in helping us to build management capacity and strategically invest in our people. Their flexibility, depth, and breadth of expertise allows us to deliver top quality solutions that are directly tied to key business plans. Their ability to custom design, deliver, and evaluate our Management Curriculum has been excellent. They are true business partners and a pleasure to work with.

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LSA helped us design and deliver a blended learning solution for our leaders to help drive our growth plans in a way that aligned with our specific culture and values. LSA understood our business, had deep expertise in the content areas, tailored the programs to fit our specific needs, and delivered great results. They constantly strive to deliver business impact and align their solutions with our business initiates, culture, and performance management systems. I highly recommend them to anyone looking to take their leaders to the next level.”

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We partnered with LSA to pilot a customized behavioral interviewing program to help ensure that we continue to hire the best and brightest as we continue to rapidly scale. LSA’s ability to understand our business and our unique culture combined with their desire to ensure that the best practices framework truly fits our performance environment and is highly adopted by our people is a real blessing. Most other firms want to just ‘give you training.’ Not LSA, they are focused on helping me hit our hiring forecasts and attract A players.

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PalmSource has found our relationship with LSA extremely beneficial. We worked closely with LSA to customize the right Management Training Program solution to meet our unique business needs. LSA is a quality organization, one that I’d recommend to any company looking for a first class training and consulting partner.

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