Salespeople are important assets to the companies they serve, but finding the right talent to drive sales can be challenging. As a business owner, you need to nurture your sales leaders and cultivate high-performing sales teams.

With the right strategy, you can create a strong sales talent pipeline and never worry about your team again.

What traits should you look for in developing a high-performing sales team?

Appreciative of the big picture while meeting sales quotas and goals

Many high-performing sales professionals place too much emphasis on meeting quotas or closing deals. While these are important goals, it’s just as important for them to adopt a broader outlook and understand the impact of their performance on the company as a whole. A salesperson might look great on paper, but if they can’t collaborate or don’t share your company’s values and mission, they won’t be a good fit. 

Reliable and competent

A company should be able to rely on its sales team. If that feeling of trust isn’t present, it’s a surefire sign of issues that need addressing.

Salespeople must be committed to working ethically and complying with your business’s rules and customer relationship management program. Additionally, they should be personable and able to build a rapport with your customers and clients. [Read related article: Staying Motivated: 16 Quotes to Inspire Your Sales Team]

Adaptable and trainable

When you’re cultivating a productive sales team, it’s important that your salespeople are able to adapt to changes and roll with the punches. This means they’re easy to train and willing to work with you and their team members for the good of the company as a whole – not just for their own benefit. 

Bottom LineBottom Line:  Good salespeople need to both meet individual goals and understand a company’s broader culture and objectives.

How to build the talent bank of high performers

After identifying promising candidates, create a replicable process that turns them into enthusiastic team members. Follow these steps to help turn the top candidates from your talent pool into team members:

1. Nail the first contact.

After identifying a potential recruit, call that person. If a current team member recommended this person, be open about it. If a client provided the name, tell the prospective hire, “One of our clients loved the work you did. We have a few similar opportunities right now. I’d love to set up a meeting to talk a bit more and get to know you better.”

2. Dive deeper in a casual interview.

Even bad salespeople can give good interviews. Come prepared to look for specific behaviors that would make this person a good fit for the team. These are two important questions to consider when speaking to a potential salesperson:

  • What type of management style would this person require? 
  • Would this person fit the culture, or would butting heads drive down team performance at the cost of one high performer? 

This interview must be a structured, validated one so that you can see the natural sales talent in a potential hire and later use that information to help determine whether that person can fill the role.

3. Follow up formally.

If the initial meeting goes well, schedule a follow-up phone call to conduct a more formal interview. Give the candidate some time to prepare to talk about hard figures, prospective markets and the type of work required in this new role. 

4. Get together and make an offer.

At the end of this interview process, bring in the candidate for one final chat. Address any concerns or questions you have about potential fit, introduce other managers or team members to the candidate, and be prepared to talk total compensation. Don’t get hung up on whether now is the “right time” to add someone new. If this person is truly a great seller, the company will benefit from the hire no matter what.

5. Look internally.

While much of your recruitment strategy may revolve around external candidates, don’t forget about those you already have on your team. Building an internal pipeline for your sales team is beneficial because it allows you to develop trustworthy sales representatives who are already in alignment with your company’s mission. Rather than wait until it’s time to hire, businesses should focus on recruiting talent. This way, companies can keep a pool of approved candidates ready to go at a moment’s notice.

FYIFYI: It’s better to build a pipeline of talented salespeople than wait until it’s time to hire new ones.

Transforming talent into productivity

The best sales teams don’t limit themselves to the opportunities in front of them; they identify new opportunities at every turn, increasing sales and driving their companies forward. Follow these tips to create a recruitment process that analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of potential candidates (and whether they belong on your team). 

Matthew Sunshine contributed to the writing and research in this article.

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