Sales is an art, and it can be either the most rewarding or the most frustrating business to be in. But what does it take to be successful in sales? Hank van der Merwe looks at two areas that contribute to a successful sales team, and shares practical ways in which you can improve your organisationís sales.
by Hank van der Merwe
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hank van der Merwe is a Global Consulting Associate of the Ken Blanchard Companies and is a sought-after speaker, consultant and facilitator in the areas of leadership, coaching, training and incentives.
There are three main areas that contribute to a successful sales person or sales team. For the purpose of this article, I will concentrate on two areas which you can control, namely the organisation and the sales person. The third factor, namely the market, is a separate discussion altogether.
A successful sales organisation is like an ecosystem. Each part of the ecosystem needs to be carefully in tune and in balance with the other parts.
To look at any one area in isolation is a mistake we often make. The quick fix “stamp your feet and light a match” strategy simply does not work and is a complete waste of money. We all have stories of the sales director’s mate who is a motivational speaker and gets flown in to “motivate” your sales team. The result? Business as usual five minutes after he has left.
When it comes to being successful in sales, there are a number of factors that need to be carefully balanced in order to achieve the kind of results that organisations want and individuals need to be called successful. Let’s look at the two areas which we can influence directly:
1. The organisation
What business are you actually in? There is so much evidence to prove that a company that understands the business it is in and inspires its people to achieve the company objectives through strong leadership and values has a distinct advantage over those that don’t. Therefore, there is a direct link between your people, your customers and your results.
As the leaders of your organisation, you need to:
have competent leaders who rally the troops behind the cause
know the difference between direct and indirect sales
have a clear and easily understandable sales strategy
be able to execute your strategy through your impassioned sales force
align your internal systems to support the sales efforts
have a clear customer service strategy with empowered people at the front line
have training programmes that teach skills that lead to competencies
have a relevant incentive program in place that rewards high flyers.
Effective leadership Successful leaders get things done, sometimes at too great a cost to the organisation. When they are at the office, it’s all systems go, and there is a lot of frantic activity. When they are not at the office, it’s a completely different environment.
Effective leaders are those that are able to develop their people to the point where they are able to lead themselves. They align their people’s activity with the overall objectives of the organisation; they listen to their people and create the ideal environment for them to shine, and then step out of the limelight giving credit where it’s due.
Effective leaders are more of a mentor than a boss. They are able to balance productivity with engagement. These leaders are able to adjust their leadership style based on the situation and are more likely to have an impassioned and successful team.
The problem is that we often promote the best sales person to a leadership position. However, the skills and values needed for being a great sales person are very different from those required to lead a sales team.
The trust between a leader and her/his people is critical. The higher the trust, the more effective and successful the people will be. Invest in your people and invest in your leadership.