February 23, 2016


If you are reading this article you likely play a crucial role in your sales team, and are seeking ways to improve performance. Fortunately, by making small improvements to areas such as your hiring process or management style, you can create a more efficient work environment and sales team without tremendous expense.

Let’s explore some tips for sales team improvement.

1. Manage Follow Up

In my opinion, the most neglected activity by salespeople is to follow up with prospects and clients repeatedly. It takes about 12 touches to close the average sale. And the vast majority quit after 3-4 touches.

The solution is to manage the follow ups with an automated system, such as CRM software. All leads must be entered into the platform, and managers should review to ensure contacts are being worked. This tip alone will lead to remarkable sales team improvement.

2. Establish a referral culture

Following up with existing customers reassures them that their business is important to the company, and is a great opportunity to ask “Is there anyone you know who might benefit from a quick call with me?” Establish a regular routine where salespeople get on the phones or email and touch bases with their folks…it’s like turning on a sales faucet.

Referrals are “free money” because you do not have to spend the same dollars you spent to acquire a customer through advertising.

3. Reign in the “lone wolf”

A company is only as good as its culture…which is formed by its structure, policies, procedures, and schedules that are set forth by management. To ensure harmony, reign in any lone wolves who do not play by reasonable rules.

Consistency is critical for a growing company and its customers. If someone on the sales team does as they please, such as refusing to enter data into CRM software, missing sales meetings, or violating marketing rules, it is better to coach them through the follow up or if necessary, to let them go.

4. Be a mentor

Great managers can improve sales team performance by sharing their own experiences with their employees. Open door policies and trading war stories with your sales team for learning purposes will strengthen the culture and increase loyalty and motivation.

5. Invest in Coaching

The primary goal of sales coaching is to take a good salesperson and make them great. This is accomplished by training, followed up by coaching, and then even more training and coaching.

Through effective coaching, managers can learn employee motivations and better understand how to reward good sales practices. This leads to employee and company growth because it helps maximize sales team performance while identifying weaknesses that can be remedied through further coaching.

6. Nip Negativity in the Bud

Managers who interact with their employees only to address negative aspects of performance can ruin company morale. Employees who are in fear of losing their jobs tend to perform only as well as what is expected of them – which isn’t much. Therefore, remember to communicate with employees about their successes often rather than addressing what they are doing wrong.

7. Role play

It costs nothing to role play at weekly sales meetings or during coaching sessions. Like athletes or actors, salespeople need to practice in order to master their craft.

The sky’s the limit – you can practice closes, handling objections, presentations…every aspect of the sales cycle. Sales team improvement is inevitable with sufficient practice.

8. Increase Rewards

While upping commissions and bonuses will greatly increase morale, so will paying for a box of donuts or a basket of fresh fruit once a week for the break room. Even $5 Starbucks gift cards and other small gestures go a long way towards your staff feeling validated and appreciated – and therefore more willing to sell.

9. Test for aptitude.

Testing every salesperson for sales aptitude is another surefire path to sales team improvement. It separates the wheat from the chaff and saves you the agony and expense of having to fire people for non-performance.

10. Get social

The power of the internet continues to offer the sales world vast opportunities to improve sales performance. The use of social media allows sales reps to network, prospect, and enhance customer service processes with little expense.

While LinkedIn remains the most powerful social selling platform for B2B sales, get creative and explore other platforms such as Periscope, Snapchat and Instagram.

11. Simplify your commission structure

Many salespeople come to the conclusion that complicated commission structures comprised of endless tiers and rules are efforts to rip them off. Complicated pay plans are therefore demotivating.

While tiered commission sometimes make sense, consider paying everyone a flat, easy to understand commission and leave the tiers for bonuses for higher performance instead.

12. Celebrate together

Did everyone beat quota? Did someone land a huge new account?

One way to motivate the team is to celebrate victories together, whether it be with a catered lunch or drinks at happy hour. If you have a big budget, consider sponsoring a ski trip or other sojourn to take a load off and validate everyone’s efforts.

Do you have any killer sales team improvement tips? If so, comment below!