Here’s how you develop a top-notch sales team

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:35 pm

"How do I build a top-notch sales staff?"

Here’s a checklist I use to answer that question during my sales coaching seminars for managers. This list identifies the 10 critical steps that can quickly turn around an underperforming sales team.

1. Hold weekly face-to-face team meetings.

During this meeting, which should last about an hour, you must hold team members accountable for informal status reports on all current prospects. (Note: A "prospect" is someone who is actively "playing ball" with your salesperson … as evidenced by a willingness to set aside a specific date and time to meet or speak about doing business together.)

2. During the weekly meeting with the team, ask the same questions consistently.

If you make a habit of asking the following questions at every team meeting, your salespeople will quickly make a habit of finding the answers before each meeting.

* When are you going back to meet with this person? (If the salesperson has no idea, it’s not a real prospect. Period. Don’t project income from the lead-in question.)

* What does the company do?

* Who are its customers?

* Who are you talking to?

* Why that person?

* How long has your contact been there for?

* What, specifically, is this company doing right now in an area where we can add value?

* When was your first meeting?

* Did you call them or did they call you?

* How much is the deal worth?

* In your view, what is the very next thing that has to happen for you to eventually close this sale, and how do we do that?

* How can I get in touch with your contact? (If the salesperson is saying the deal has a 50/50 chance of closing, you should call the decision maker and say something like, "I understand we’re going to be doing business together." See what happens when you ask the salesperson for the contact information!)

3. Measure sales activity consistently.

Measure the same activities, day after day, for every salesperson. What gets measured can vary from team to team, but for field sales teams, you should probably monitor benchmarks like these.

* Total dials for the day. (A dial is an attempt to reach out to a brand new contact that your team member has not contacted for a significant period of time.)

* Total completed calls for the day. (A "completed call" is a call where one of your people actually spoke with a person you’d want him or her to meet. This could be either someone reached by means of an outgoing call, or someone who returned a message previously left on a voicemail system.)

* Total face-to-face visits for the day. (A "visit" is either a first appointment or a follow-up meeting.)

* Total sales for the day. (A "sale" is typically a signed contract or other formal purchase agreement.)

4. Identify top performers.

If you knew with certainty that two of your team members were going to resign tomorrow morning …which two would you pray wouldn’t walk into your office and give their two weeks’ notice? These are the people you want to hold on to.

5. Identify people you should probably get rid of.

Using the same example … who would you pray would walk into your office and offer two weeks’ notice?

6. Identify mid-range performers.

These are, in all likelihood, the people you didn’t identify in your responses to #4 and #5, above. They’re the people you’re hoping to help deliver incremental performance increases over time.

7. Hold regular one-on-one coaching meetings.

These short weekly or monthly meetings should last 10 to 15 minutes and should be based on the stuff you’re measuring every day. (See #3, above.) Find out what motivates, everyone, paying particular attention to your top performers (#4, above). Remember that meaningful rewards will be different for every one. Some "high fliers" will respond well to a cash bonus, others to public recognition, others to a set of golf clubs, and so on. Set up a goal based on a "carrot" that is uniquely inspiring to that person.

8. Build an eight-week coaching plan.

This should be focused on a specific, highly visible team goal rooted in something you’re measuring every day. (See #3, above.)

9. Build training and reinforcement programs around the salespeople you want to stick around.

Find out what kind of training and reinforcement events will make your top performers (see #4, above) feel better about staying with your company. Ask them, during coaching meetings, about their professional goals.

10. Get rid of people who don’t actually create revenue for your organization.

I’m talking about salespeople who cost more than they deliver, either in terms of dollars or in terms of grey or missing hairs on your head. I predict that you know, right now as you read this article, whether someone on your staff fits this description, right? I thought so. Guess what? You know what to do next!

Stacia Skinner is president of Creative Training Solutions Ltd. ( She can be reached at 888-942-4800 or

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