4 Steps to Building a World Class Sales Force

Have you ever been part of a team that just clicked? Everyone committed to a shared goal and invested in executing their roles as if each were meant to work together as a precision-crafted part of the same finely tuned machine?

When you’re in flow it feels great. When you’re not, you’ll do almost anything to recapture that magic. 

Fortunately, leading a sales team to success has nothing to do with magic. The process is actually far more predictable and repeatable, as long as you have built (and know how to leverage) the required sales assets.

Whether you’re a CEO or professional sales leader taking your team to the next level, if your sales asset inventory is incomplete the odds of you skipping steps, repeating past mistakes and forgetting valuable lessons are high.

It’s human nature. No matter how good we perform in any one moment, without the proper supports, a sales force simply can’t maintain a consistently high level of performance. There are just too many moving parts and too many opportunities to go off the rails. 

Your Sales Asset Inventory

Below are four steps included in our Sales Asset Inventory, one that we deliver when engaging a client for the first time. Our goal is to help CEOs and sales leaders of small and mid-market sales teams identify opportunities to improve, and then advise them on which investments will have the greatest impact on their goals.

As you review each step, pause to consider where your sales force is in its development (e.g., beginner, pro, master) and consider taking advantage of the free tools provided to determine which assets deserve your immediate attention.

1 – Sales Operating Structure

What are the strengths and weaknesses of your current sales strategy, process, systems (technology stack) and accountability frameworks?

Frankly, it’s rare for us to meet a sales leader who can confidently tell us which of these four assets may be incomplete or keeping their sales force from overachieving goals.

This is not a case of incompetence or lack of curiosity. Most often leaders simply don’t know what they don’t know. And, because they have been disappointed by consultants in the past, it feels less risky to figure it out for themselves.

We could not do what we do without partnering with wise and committed clients. The truth is just like world class athletes, world class CEOs and sales leaders move much faster with professional guidance and coaching. You can’t make more time. Once it’s gone its gone.

A 100% do-it-yourself strategy is an expensive, low probability way to learn and grow. Sales forces often end-up being under equipped and over staffed, chasing competitors and goals instead of taking the lead and achieving market dominance.  

To evaluate your own sales operating structure, take 5 minutes to check out the Sales Asset Inventory Survey and the free analysis that’s included. It’s the best value for CEOs and sales leaders looking to grow.

2 – Alignment and Agility

What is the talent strategy you follow when hiring and developing sales and customer-facing teams? Do you consider new hires as individual contributors only, or as carefully selected members of an organization that is far greater than the sum of its parts?

By focusing your talent strategy on alignment and agility, you and your leaders can more quickly and efficiently deliver the leverage and growth you seek.

  • Talent alignment gives you the power to generate leverage. When you have the insights required to hire and develop people who are aligned within and across teams, you have the ability to proactively leverage or multiply their contribution to your organization, i.e., 1+1=3.

    When you don’t consider alignment when making talent decisions, you risk creating systemic challenges that can become chronic barriers over time.

  • Organizational agility prepares you to transform change into growth. If you’re a regular consumer of our articles and podcasts, you’re familiar with our belief that growth is the mastery of change. This means the better equipped your sales organization is to anticipate, recognize and respond to change, the more predictable success will be.

When you have the insights required to build agility into your workforce, you have the ability to ensure your organization’s resilience and prosperity.

Knowing what you want to achieve is important but knowing how to get there gives you the power to turn concepts like alignment and agility into reality. Frankly, we know of no more powerful way to get there than our Growth Multiplier Index™, powered by the Position Success Model from Hire Direction.

The Growth Multiplier Index™ allows you to objectively define the Performance DNA or natural work style of every new and existing member of your company. Its proprietary algorithm converts answers from 8 multiple choice questions into 150 datapoints that allow you to optimize the deployment of talent across your company.

For the first time, alignment and agility can be scientifically validated and managed across a single sales team or an entire organization. It’s the most predictable way to transform concept into reality. 

To assess the alignment and agility of your sales force, or any other part of your company, visit the Tools page of our website for a free trial of the Growth Multiplier Index™ for up to 10 members of your team.

3 – Role-Player Fit

What process or tools do you use to predictably validate the potential of a new salesperson? We know there’s no such thing as a perfect sales candidate, but there are degrees of certainty and there is a big difference between being right 50% vs. 90% of the time.

The CFO of a valued client recently calculated a $330,000 hit for each bad sales hire made. Based on their 50% success rate (e.g., 11 out of 22 hires), she reported a $4.27 million loss over five years.

Today, it’s just too easy for small and midmarket sales forces to get hiring decisions wrong. Most salespeople are better at interviewing than we are. We don’t give ourselves enough time to complete a proper set of interviews, and too often we rely upon our gut to make educated bets instead of objective decisions.

Over more than 28 years we have tested nearly every approach to predicting the potential of new sales hires. In that time, we have found nothing to be more predictive than our RoleDNA Certification™ powered by the Position Success Model from Hire Direction.

Yes, the same tool that allows you to objectively achieve talent alignment and organizational agility, also allows you to ensure an individual’s fit to role.

We use the same 150 datapoints to objectively define the Operational DNA of your sales role. Then we certify the match to an individual’s Performance DNA. The higher the fit the more likely their success.

The process is objective, it’s validated, and it gives you the power to turn concepts into a reality. One happy client calls it, “Moneyball for teams”.

The RoleDNA Certification™ process is powerful and straight forward. There’s no magic, and you can give it a try for free by visiting the Tools page of our website.

4 – Goal. Plan. Scorecard.

Most sales forces are built over a number of years, one brick at a time. Success surfaces best practices that are taught and applied (when they are remembered). New sales roles are added as needed, new hires come and go and with a little luck traction turns into growth.

This common approach is organic and opportunistic. As needs and opportunities arise for the CEO and sales leader, they’re addressed. The issue with this approach is it is largely reactive. It’s rare that the sales organization is ever viewed holistically and optimized proactively.

We solve this challenge with our Sales GPS™ (i.e., goal, plan, scorecard). This is a tool that has evolved over years of field use by small and midmarket sales teams, to help leaders translate new revenue goals into the strategies, activities, people and metrics required to deliver success.

It is a one-page document that maps the journey from where you are to where you want to be, and helps you fill in the blanks along the way.

There is a big difference between knowing and guessing when it comes to predicting the success of any investment in your sales force. As much as we’d like to give our Sales GPS™ away for free, we can’t. Frankly, it’s value can only be realized through the focused collaboration of sales leader and coach.

The good news is we can help you evaluate its fit for your sales force anytime.

For CEOs and sales leaders of small and mid-market companies, the idea of building a world class sales force can feel daunting. It doesn’t have to. And, it doesn’t have to be fraught with uncertainty and risk. The good news is the path has been marked and the map has been drawn. It’s just waiting for you to pick it up.

As always, we’re here if you have questions. Feel free to grab time on my calendar.

Continued Success!

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