Sales Team Development: Acceleration from Within

Working with sales leaders, I hear first-hand about the challenges they struggle with in their work. Skill development is a big one. Specifically, they ask: “how do we get our teams to maximum sales productivity as fast as possible and then sustain that performance level?”

That’s consistent with what’s being reported in the marketplace at large: a recent study by the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals found that training and developing quality candidates are specifically cited as top challenges for sales leaders today.

Among respondents in that study who are quoted, one of them zeroes-in on part of the solution to this problem: “I believe that shadowing top sales folks…brings the results – practice makes perfect.”

Given how common the problem is, it’s frustrating that a proven way to start tackling it remains overlooked by so many businesses.

Achieving consistent top performance starts by leveraging the knowledge, energy and proven record of your top sales performers within your organization.

Go beyond shadowing: make full use of your bench strength and create a special sales training team ,or as one of my clients likes to call it: a sales implementation acceleration team, from within your own ranks to facilitate learning sessions. It makes great sense: why use outsiders when you might have the best knowledge sources on your current team?

To fill your team’s roster, look at your top performers: those who have proven sustained growth and select those who are maybe looking for a new challenge within your organization.  Use this team to create a forum with workshops and facilitated events in which they can share what they know with others within your sales organization and help everyone learn from their peers.

Be sure when you offer this new challenge to them, you do so in a way that makes it clear this is a rewarding opportunity: one that will help their career progression, and isn’t just more work in their inbox. For example, you might pay them a bonus for facilitating a sales training curriculum, or provide quota relief for a short period of time while they complete their turn on their team

Look at what you gain

There are five big benefits you gain by adopting this strategy:

  1. Motivation: It motivates and reenergizes your top performers when you give them something special to do, especially when it’s done in a way that recognizes them for their hard work and for being the model that you want others to emulate. People like to be noticed for their achievements. This will ensure they stay.
  2. Wider, sustained performance: You ensure sustained top performance from more than just your biggest hitters in sales—they influence everyone they train. Your team internalizes all those best practices, they start putting them to use. This, in turn, helps solidify your brand as a powerhouse of sales pros who really understand the needs of your customers.
  3. Deeper knowledge: Your top sellers know your operation and your customers inside out. They have a proven sales record of getting the kinds of results you are looking for. When they share with others what they know from working in the field, this gives you confidence that your knowledge base is growing inside your sales organization, powered by the resources you already employ.
  4. Fostered trust: More than just leading by example, your top sellers are trusted, known qualities in-house. Their winning record will resonate with those on your sales team who are struggling to find similar success. People are reciprocal creatures. Sometimes what they need is a positive example to emulate. You validate that need when you give them direct access to your top people.
  5. Greater sense of community: It’s always easier for sales reps to adopt advice from proven insiders rather than from outsiders, because these are people who can empathize deeply with the unique challenges faced in your organization. As I cover on page 233 in my book, Non-Stop Sales Boom, people bond together best when they feel united in an emotion-based community. That includes boot camp workshops and sales training sessions led by your best sales people.

Inside, outside: know who does what best

Granted, not all sales training goals are accomplished by looking within, but it’s where you make your best start. It’s important to know when it’s the right time to bring in outside professional help to get things done. However, I don’t mind telling you—even as one of those outsider professionals—that some tasks are accomplished faster with great results when you start by working on the inside.

You get lasting results when you create this sales implementation acceleration team. It doesn’t matter whether you have a team or ten or several hundreds. You can use this approach to dramatically drive massive ROI from your sales training development.