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How can the performance of a sales team be improved?

These days it is not enough to offer a quality product. That, of course, must be the starting point. However, in order to achieve sustainable growth, any company based on the sales of products and services must have as one of its main objectives developing a good sales team. In order to achieve that, not only are a sound selection process and good initial training important, but the nature of the work that the members of the team do and the steps that could be taken to improve their performance must be thought about constantly.

Steps to improve the team’s performance must target the various factors that affect its efficiency. One factor that has always been taken into account (and must not be forgotten) is motivation. Recognition on the part of the company through incentives and rewards is fundamental in moulding a results-oriented organization. For that, it is important that every member of the team know exactly what is expected of him or her – and that rewards be fairly distributed in accordance with known criteria. Similarly, another aspect that can significantly influence team motivation is the prospect for personal growth. Investment in on-going training and the gradual assignment of new responsibilities (with the consequent salary adjustments) give the dynamism needed to avoid the perception of a dead-end job.

Another essential factor affecting the performance of the sales force is the role of the company in structuring the team. Here the company must play an active role. It must involve itself in the details of the work that the group is carrying out, taking advantage of its distance from the work to provide a broader perspective that allows the identification of those aspects that must be improved and those that must be highlighted based on their good results. Good monitoring and oversight, together with sound company management are just as important as motivation. For that one must have the appropriate means and channels to monitor the team, the tools that make it easy to track the work and results of every one of the operators.

A third important element in optimizing the performance of a sales force are the very work tools that it is given. Nowadays it is essential to have IT solutions suited to the needs of each type of business. All the tools introduced to automate the work of the operators and make it faster and more flexible contribute dynamism to the team and makes it possible to focus on the finest points of the sales process. For example, if we have programs that allow the automation of the initial contact with business leads and potential customers (a function that a commercial website can fulfil with proactive chat invitation systems or scheduled ads), the team’s effort will be oriented not so much toward searching for customers as toward the final conversation with them. Or consider, for example, a program that can build an up-to-date database to allow identification of different customer profiles and the most promising prospects. Such a program makes it possible to carry out targeted sales campaigns which will do a great deal of the team’s work and permit it to follow the best leads, thereby increasing the pace of sales.

Lastly, another factor that affects the performance of a sales team are the actions it carries out to build customer loyalty. A customer who returns or who recommends a company’s products and services to other people considerably increases the performance of any team, in that it means a reduction in the time invested to obtain the same results. Post-sales service and advice must play as important a role in overall performance as the sale itself. To that end, communication channels must always be open and the sales team must have rapid access to log of prior exchanges between the company and each customer. This type of log, together with the return of already converted customers, help the team specify the most interesting profiles and identify which strategies have given the best results.

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