9 Ways to Develop Highly Effective Salespeople

Dec 21, 2022
By Dr. Stefanie Boyer, DSEF Fellow, Professor of Marketing, Bryant University, and Co-Founder of RNMKRS

Why do salespeople who have a proven track record fail as leaders? Simply put, they don’t know how to train and develop their team members.

The “right” strategy and training has the potential to increase customer satisfaction, increase your company’s market share and profits and fend off competitors.

Some of the most advanced ideas, tools, and techniques for training salespeople to anticipate and prepare for change with training solutions that help your salesforce empower their own development come together in The 9 Ways to Develop Highly Effective Salespeople.

Below is a quick snippet of each of the 9 ways. Check out the book for details, assessments, tools and more.

  1. Find the right salespeople. The first step is understanding what they want so you don’t lose them right away. A recent survey of college students studying sales found that they are extremely interested in opportunities for personal growth and development within the organization. Does your company offer this? Be sure to communicate it. Set realistic expectations by showing the step-by-step path to growth. The journey should be transparent and clear. Moreover, take time to help them align their personal goals with the goals of the company to reduce attrition.
  2. Make sure your salesforce understands the sales process. And first ask yourself, do you know your process? Get your leadership team on board with your sales process and your customer journey. Clarify what information is needed to help your sellers understand and communicate metrics and identify economic buyers. Develop a set of questions to help sellers assess what steps customers take when deciding if they want to buy and include the criteria used to make those decisions. Create champions by empowering sellers to identify the problem and teaching them how to solve it.
  3. Encourage them to practice. It is not enough to ask people to practice on their own. They need qualified feedback. Don’t just ask sellers to practice live conversations. Practice posting, messaging and handling pushback in a safe sandbox before launching them into the business. As sales leaders emerge, give them a chance to develop leadership skills through roleplaying and engaged, active learning. Think about and evaluate the incentives you have in place to encourage practice.
  4. Teach your salesforce how to think on their feet. How agile is your team? Are they ready for chaos and constant change? Simple improv activities can quickly create an adaptability mindset and build mental fortitude within your team. Try starting your meeting with a short adaptability exercise.
  5. Create a safe culture of collaboration. The perception your team member has of the support they receive from their upline directly impacts performance, satisfaction, motivation and turnover. It is not enough to cheer people on when they succeed. Uplines and leaders should provide support, resources and tools to lift people up when times are tough. Your uplines and leaders are the face of the company to your team members. When your team feels safe to fail and keep trying, you will create an army of confident sellers who will show compassion and empathy for their customers (and yours).
  6. Teach your salesforce how to learn so they continue to grow. What have you done lately to empower your sellers to diagnose their own strengths and weaknesses? The research shows people respond better to learning when they have some control over the process. The more contextual understanding your team members have, the more they can happily control their own learning environment. Be sure to provide maximum support at the start – direction, a clear path, resources and manageable tools. Once sellers become better at selling and understanding the product and the industry, it’s time to give them support to find new ways to learn on their own. New sellers need more direction, so be careful about giving them too much autonomy until they build basic understanding of the product, industry and company.
  7. Encourage them to find mentors. Everyone has something to offer, to teach and to learn. Give everyone a chance to mentor, even your newbies have something to offer the team. Don’t reinvent the wheel. There are numerous strategies to build mentorship programs that work. Explore the ADDIE design method of building and maintaining exemplary formal mentoring programs provided in the book.
  8. Be a good leader. What is your leadership style? How much training do you receive each month? Are you listening to leadership calls and passively hearing stories about leadership success? Think about ways to develop leaders in engaged and active learning and training. Give your emerging talent the skills to be servant leaders and watch your team transform.
  9. Make sure your plan is working. Complete a training audit to identify what is missing, which resources are most important or out of date, and how to allocate resources effectively. Evaluate both formal and informal methods of training available and assess which practices are necessary to meet the learning needs of your team. Establish your goals, assess your training regularly and adjust to navigate the chaos of today’s dynamic environment.

With turbulence comes innovation and market opportunities. Use this time to strengthen your team’s ability to sell and lead.

  • December 2022
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