When you have a small team and you need to produce big results, it’s essential that every member of your team is performing at their best.
Training and skill development is one area that can make a dramatic difference in your team’s results – but when you’re small, having the time and the bandwidth to continually train and mentor your team can feel overwhelming.
So, who do you hyper-focus your time and energy in training in a way that will have the biggest impact?
In this episode, we’ll dive into some of the key principles that will help you focus your training efforts for maximum growth.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to develop your sales team over time. The framework I’ve been using in my thinking is this: right now I’m training for a half marathon, and for the first time ever in my training process, I am being coached.
Thanks to modern technology, I now have access to an in-ear trainer to go on all my runs with me to be constantly encouraging and correcting me on my form.
It’s been interesting to watch my own progression as I train.
I may not qualify as an “experienced” runner, but I also don’t consider myself a beginner. There are areas where I could improve, but it would be hard to do this on my own at this point, without looking for opportunities to be coached.
The same could be said of sales teams.
More often than not, the people on your team have some experience. They’ve either been self-taught or developed a skill-set at a previous position they worked in for another company.
It is very rare that you would be working with someone who is completely “green.” Still, the opportunity exists for their skills to be refined, so that they become even more effective at their role.
Going back to my running example – having this in-ear coach to encourage me is very helpful when I’m six miles into my training and feeling ready to give up, but it also causes me to be very intentional about my form.
There’s a lot that goes in running – from hand positioning, to head positioning, to hip positioning, to shoulders. I’ve noticed that if I try to fix all the things at once, I don’t succeed, and my old bad habits eventually take over.
Where I have had the most success is picking one area of my form to work on, and become hyper-focused on that one tweak for several weeks until my body becomes conditioned and new muscle memory is formed.
There are a lot of parallels to your team where – they may have the experience, but it’s possible they also came with a few bad habits or nuances about the way they do things that simply aren’t optimal.
You want to refine and develop your sales team by focusing on one
area at a time, setting them up for success for that one area. Experiencing a win before you move onto the next area of refinement will keep your team from feeling frustrated and discouraged.
Chances are there are more than just a few things that need refining. How do you choose which area of focus to start with?
While it’s easy to spot general areas of growth that would have a big impact, it’s important to narrow it down and get really specific.
For example, rather than deciding you want to work on “improving sales,” considering which aspect of selling you’ll focus on first.
Maybe you’ll choose to help your team get better with initiating sales conversations, or becoming more comfortable and confident during that first 15 seconds of a cold outreach.
Whatever it is, choose one area and do it over and over again, until everyone on the team has developed that new muscle memory before moving on to the next specific area of focus.
How to select an area of focus to get maximum results when developing your team
Typically our gut reactions are based on information that we've been observing over time – we just haven’t given them a name yet.
When we finally take time to sit with these questions, the first response is usually pretty spot on.
Again, get specific!
A hard skill could be something like asking questions, delivering a compelling value proposition, initiating conversation, and negotiating. They are specific to a certain part of the sales process.
A soft skill are things that influence the sales process overall. For example, curiosity, resilience, leadership, and confidence.
Not sure where to start in identifying your team’s skills? Grab my list of prompts/topics here!
Of that list, let your gut tell you which you think would help your team to have the biggest impact. Then, have your team perform a self-evaluation using that same list.
This way, your area of focus is not something you have picked to implement as the leader, but rather your team has discovered an area with opportunity for improvement.
Allowing them to identify and choose these areas helps you to get more buy-in from your team.
The number one skill I’ve been focused on the past few weeks in my training for this half marathon is hand positioning.
It seems so silly and minor, but it turns out the position of your hand while running greatly affects the other parts of your body. Bringing my hands into alignment would have a pretty significant ripple effect on other aspects of my form, therefore increasing my efficiency!
The same is true when working to develop your sales team. Are there one or two small things that happen that if they really master them, it would impact three to four other aspects of the sales process?
This would seem like the logical place to start when thinking about how to improve your sales, right?
But word to the wise – the data is only part of the story.
When you look at your numbers and see that your team seems to be doing a lot of demos and proposals, but getting very few sales, you might think the issue lies with your team’s presentation, when really it could be that the prospects weren’t really qualified leads in the first place.
It may benefit your team to take it back a few steps and work out how they are handling initial inquiries, and whether or not your process for weeding out unqualified leads might need revisiting.
Not sure how this applies to your own small but mighty sales team? Join the conversion in the Mighty Sales Facebook Group to get support, free resources, and weekly tips and trips for developing your teams and improving your sales.
Here is a link to this Episode's Show Notes.