As a founder, your job is to give every team member the tools and resources they need to be successful on their own.
For sales teams, especially, founders are notorious for giving them very little resources and expecting them to carry the cashflow of the company. "Why aren't you closing more deals?" tends to be the standard question, rather than, "What can we do to help you close more deals? What do you need in order to be successful on your own?"
Ensure that your team members actually believe in the product they're selling.
Tools and software, sales scripts, conference passes and company cards to wine-and-dine clients all come second. First, each and every salesperson needs to "drink the company Kool-Aid." They have to know why they are part of the team, why their role matters, and that what they're selling is going to improve the lives of their customers in some way, shape, or form.
Which means, as a founder, it's your job to instill this belief from the get-go.
I have always been a fan of Bill Belichick, the head coach of the New England Patriots, and his ability to inspire every single player on that team. He has a way of getting players to believe in themselves, and see the value of the attitude they bring to the table.
Building a company is no different. And in a role like sales, attitude is everything.
Train your team using a two-step process.
Training your salespeople comes with two very different challenges.
The first is getting them up to speed on the product. How well do they know what they're selling. Here at LendingOne, we sell real estate investor loans. So part of getting people trained means making sure they know everything there is to know about the loans they're selling: how long they take to close, leverage ratios, interest rates, etc. Every single detail of the product needs to become second nature so that when a customer asks a question, they don't sit there frozen without an answer.
Those moments are how you lose deals.
The second part has less to do with the product and more the technique of the sale.
Are you selling over the phone? Door to door? Ads and Internet marketing funnels? Inbound?
Every company has their own methods for generating leads, and every method comes with its own best practices for selling. The way you sell over the phone is very different than how you sell face to face. Which means part of your training needs to explain, in detail, how to approach your customers based on the sales method you use most. I share some of my earliest sales stories in my book, All In.
Training is one of the most important things a founder and company can do for each and every employee--and it's not something you do for just an afternoon or two. All of our salespeople go through at least a month of full-time training before they speak with a customer. And even once they're let loose, managers (or sometimes I will) follow up and listen in on certain calls, provide feedback, and continuously help them improve.
I live by the phrase, "People don't do what is expected--they do what is inspected." Which means, as a founder or even a manager, it's your job to continue to check up on how people are performing.
Take a look at the technology they're using, and see how you can better equip them to sell at scale.
Just because a salesperson is meeting their quota for clients closed that month, doesn't mean that is their ceiling. In most cases, salespeople level out because there are processes nobody bothers to iron out and make more efficient--a big one being the technology they use.
Nowadays, there are so many helpful tools out there to help salespeople keep track of their leads, keep tabs on their progress, set alerts to follow up a few months later, and ultimately move them through to the point of close. Without some of these tools, it would be impossible (or terribly inefficient) to keep tabs on every prospect manually.
Another great technology piece to put in place are tools that allow salespeople to monitor their metrics. We actually developed a tool internally called "The Commission Module," which allows a sales rep to see how many deals he's closed that month, how far he is from meeting his quota, and how much he's anticipating making in commissions. Something like this can go a long way for keeping sales reps engaged and meet company sales objectives.
Don't underestimate (or forget) that the art of selling consists of a lot more than just picking up the phone and regurgitating a sales script. There are steps that can be taken to close a lot more deals, faster and more effectively.