How You Can Help Your Sales Team Perform Better

Having worked in Sales and led sales teams for now half my career, there are some tricks I have developed that help me in the role. Still learning, Sales for me is the most interesting job in a company, not only do you get the business, you also work with the most kick-ass team of people who put themselves in the line of fire everyday. 
As FlexiBees, we primarily work with startups, and we routinely see young folks working in Sales leadership roles for the first time. So here goes, some of my learning that perhaps can be useful. It is stuff that I learned from my Unilever days, where I was thrown (willingy) into a team of 35 to 40 veterans, and expected to lead them, and some that I distilled from my role at FlexiBees, where I head Business Development. While the businesses are drastically different, from on-ground distribution-heavy fmcg sales to b2b service selling that too remotely, the hunger and that sales gene is common across both teams.
Hire for Hunger
All the best salespeople have a-never-say-die attitude, and it is the single most important thing to look for while hiring. Hunger cannot be taught, so when you find someone who has it, grab them with both your hands. 
Induct Well
A good induction is half the battle won. A Sales/BD person can only sell your stuff if they know and understand it well. Invest time. Have them come with you for meetings, listen in on your calls. And if time permits, listen in on theirs as a reverse shadow. At Unilever we had a very detailed induction plan which included working as the salesman and doing store visits for order booking, spending time in the distributors' godown, tagging along with the delivery personnel, etc. At FlexiBees, we don’t need this detailed an induction, given the supply-chain is much simpler, but I try as much as possible to do shadow calls, at least one-way, to unlock some of the knowledge that is not possible to transmit via theoretical explanations. Another hack I have learnt over time is to do the induction in installments, so the inductee gets to experience one part of the process, internalise it, and then move to the next. 
Create Positivity
Sales teams run on optimism and positivity. A salesperson bets their income on their ability to convince people to buy from them everyday, and that is a crazy level of optimism. Take pains to maintain this vibe, even one wrong hire can be demoralising and deflate the team.
Set Achievable Targets
See, it’s simple. Your and your sales team’s incentives have to be aligned. Only then will it be a win-win and sustainable. They are helping you make money, help them make money too. Give them stretch but within reach. And what about the moon-shot, you ask? Always a good idea to pump the sales team to achieve a near-impossible goal but firstly, it should be infrequent enough to remain a novelty and exciting, it has to be backed by a solid plan, and it has to also give disproportionate rewards to the sales teams to make it tangibly worth their while. Setting impossible targets for delivery month-on-month that excludes your sales teams from making any incentives, is not the same as aiming for the moon-shot. It’s just poor management, damaging to morale and will lead to churn. 
Have a Tracker and Review Regularly
The tracking and reviewing process is the life-blood of sales. It drives clarity, feedback, course correction, gets 360 degree communication going, and as the leader of your organisation, makes you aware of what your team is facing. Your role is as much to guide them as to remove obstacles from their path, and you cannot do that without engaging with your team.  
Do note that as an entrepreneur, due to the paucity of time it is difficult to do all of these and any others, perfectly. For example, I struggle to do catch-ups with my team every week or even every fortnight. But listen, do not aim for perfection: even a 10-min review done once every 2 weeks is better than none at all. 
So no pressure, work with what you have, but do think about how you can achieve maximum RoI while you are at it. Towards that, hope some of these will be useful. 
FlexiBees has provided companies, both startups and established players, with part-time talent for many projects and roles; across a variety of functions & skill-sets like Marketing, Digital Marketing, Public Relations, Investment Banking, Inside Sales, Business Development, Technology, Content Writing, Graphic Design, etc. All these companies have benefited by being able to hire high quality talent at pricing optimised only for the hours of work they need. Many of these have converted to ongoing roles (also part-time) with everyone being satisfied with the arrangement.

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