Developing a Winning Sales Team Four Fundamentals for Focusing Sales Success

By Kirk Heiner

Building A Stellar Sales Staff isn’t Easy. But it Can be Simpler.

Creating a winning team takes a laser focus, deep understanding of people and commitment to the cause. There are several simple steps you can take to quickly improve both your team and the results they’re getting.

If you have a sales staff that is not generating the results you want, there are some methods that work.

There are four fundamentals that affect nearly every aspect of sales success. These four factors are driving your results, and as a manager keeping them front and center will give you the ability to tap in to your team’s true potential.

Fundamental 1 – The Right People

Having the right people on your sales team is the first critical factor affecting your sales success. Many people involved in sales shouldn’t be. In fact, it’s been estimated that up to 80 percent of people in sales should be in a different line of work.

You can’t make a winning team from flawed candidates. Lackluster sales reps and designers will cause you to struggle to achieve your sales goals. You need people who want to succeed and are willing to do what it takes to win. Everyone wants success, but only a handful are willing to dedicate themselves to working to make it happen.

There are only three types of people you can hire to build your sales team: Winners, losers and potential winners.

1.Winners - Winners don’t need much. They are out to win and will achieve great results with limited support and effort. They love the thrill of victory. They constantly work to gain greater knowledge and understanding so they can be better. You’ll find them reading articles, asking questions and searching for tips on how they can become a superior sales person.

The best salesman I ever employed would often have a new book on sales on his desk, even though he was already the best salesperson on the team. Winners seek to improve.

2.Losers - Losers will zap your energy, frustrate your staff and create a negative environment within the organization. They are toxic. They talk about improvement, but actually resist it at every turn. They aren’t willing to do the hard work that makes selling easy. They can drag the entire team down if kept on.

Not everyone who brings up issues are losers or negative. Sometimes you must truly listen to what your salespeople have to say and address important problems. Don’t put someone in the loser category just because they point out areas of trouble. We don’t pay our staff simply to agree with us or to ignore the obvious. But if they are just plain negative and not working hard to improve your business, then you must get them out of the organization as quickly as possible. It may not be easy, but if they aren’t diligent in positively affecting your business and are simply sowing the seeds of negativity, they can ruin what is otherwise a potentially great sales team.

3. Potential Winners – These people are diamonds in the rough. They are your big moneymakers of the future. However, you must nurture and develop these treasures. They don’t yet possess the knowledge and skills they need to consistently succeed. It’s your job to hone and polish their skillsets.

This is especially important at a time when unemployment is low and jobseekers are not plentiful. Every salesperson you are able to convert into a winner is a big step toward a more successful sales team.

You must make it a priority to invest the time to give them the training they’ll require to be dynamic sales superstars.

All Star teams are made up of top talent. Developing a winning team requires letting go of anyone who is unwilling to commit to creating success. It also means filling your roster with winners and developing potential winners.

Fundamental 2 – The Right Psyche

Having the right psychology is the next critical key. How your people think affects their performance and the atmosphere within your organization.

How they view their position, the company and their future are the critical components. If they feel they’re not gaining ground and heading towards a positive future, they will not be able to move your company’s agenda forward.

An old proverb says, “Above everything else, guard your heart. For it affects everything else.” This is profound.

What your salespeople think, feel and believe makes a difference.

Believe it or not, YOU play a major part in all this.

As their leader, you can dramatically impact their psyche, and as such their performance. These are critical factors affecting your sales numbers. Don’t miss this big difference-maker.

Often sales managers seem to have a blind spot when it comes to the little things affecting their team’s morale. Here’s the key.

When someone feels empowered, they become unstoppable. But when they feel frustrated, neglected or unsupported, they will fall short of reaching both their goals and yours.

In sales, a vital word is “courage.” You have the power to encourage or to discourage your people. A simple comment from leaders can make them feel fantastic or disheartened.

Everyone on your team can be filled with either confidence or insecurity. This affects their ability to go out and win.

You want to also beware the impact others are having upon your sales team. It can be your accountants, HR, production staff, support personnel or anyone who interacts with your salespeople. You can’t let other staff beat your workhorse. You don’t need to walk on pins and needles here. However, you do want to be aware of what may be affecting your team’s psyche.

It’s been said, “A sale is nothing more than a transfer of enthusiasm.”

Most companies have no plan in place to keep their sales people empowered and enthusiastic. Your people need it to win. Don’t let others steal this valuable asset from your sales team’s tool chest. And let me tell you, it’s easily stolen.Build your people up. Their psychology is a powerful tool that you will need to create winning results. Ask any winning coach if psychology affects performance and you’ll only hear one resounding answer: “Absolutely!”

Fundamental 3 – The Right Skillsets

The right person with the right attitude can accomplish little without the right skills to get the job done.

Many people who sell products or services for a living have no training on the sales process.

About 90 percent of all sales people have never read a single book on the subject. And 95 percent haven’t attended a seminar on sales to hone their skills over the course of the past three years.

You must stay sharp if you want to win. Professionals in every industry train and practice to be the best at what they do. Winners train to be the best. They don’t neglect carving out time for improving their game.

Sales managers must grasp the fact that untrained sales people cost them money. Salespeople without proper selling skills cannot be expected to get great results.

Common Challenges

Often, the new sales manager was given the job because he or she had the highest sales numbers. That doesn’t always translate into being able to inspire, develop and manage other salespeople.

Sometimes the best salesperson is unable to lead others.

Many managers feel they can’t take the time to spend coaching their sales team. They may feel unequipped in the area of teaching and training. If you don’t feel comfortable conducting training sessions, you’ll struggle to create a winning sales team. Here are two options.

1. Learn To Coach – You can take a deep dive into understanding the coaching process. Spend time educating yourself not just in the area of sales, but also in best practices of adult learning.

2. Outside Help – You can bring in a professional to train your team. It can be an in-house event followed up with weekly or bi-weekly sessions to embed good habits. There are also some great online courses you can employ to help you make the most of your sales team.

Fundamental 4 – The Right Actions

What activities are your people busy doing throughout the day? If they are doing too many non-sales actions, it will be almost impossible to achieve victory.

Take a look at where your sales people are spending most of their time. If they are constantly doing low-payoff clerical duties or data input, they can’t make you any real money. Even worse is if they are chatting around the water cooler, where no work is getting done.

The only time sales people are making you money is when they are contacting, talking to and meeting with prospects and clients. That means regularly getting in front of new prospects, giving sales presentations, quoting jobs and following up to close the sale.

Having a handle on their main activities through the day will help you see what may be holding them back. Right actions bring right results.

Here’s the BIG takeaway.

As a sales manager, there are 101 areas in which you could place your efforts. That’s the problem. But, it’s not about what you could do, it’s about what you should do. These four factors hold the key.

If you focus on these four fundamentals, your sales success will be simple, strategic and inevitable.

 About the Author

Kirk Heiner has more than 30 years’ experience in the kitchen & bath Industry. He helps showroom owners and managers increase market share by becoming radically customer driven. He’s conducted training events and seminars for corporations like Lowe’s, DuPont, Danze, Stock Building Supply, AWFS, KBIS, the National Kitchen & Bath Association and many more. For more information or to contact him, visit