Learn how you can turn your inherited sales team into an asset from Brad Moore of Personify Corp.
RELATED: How To Create A Winning Culture
In this article:
- About My Guest — Brad Moore of Personify Corp.
- How to Start Managing an Inherited Sales Team
- How to Own and Optimize an Inherited Sales Team
- How to Take Over from the Previous Sales Leader
- How to Make Different Personalities Work Together
- Advice for Sales Leaders
How to Build up Your Inherited Sales Team
What Is Constituent Management Software? Also known as “Customer Relationship Management” or CRM, this is an all-in-one database solution that provides a holistic view of an organization’s constituents. Organizations use CRM software to obtain, retain, and enhance their relationships with each constituent group who interacts with them.
About My Guest — Brad Moore of Personify Corp.
Personify is a leader in their industry, providing constituent management software that has been around since 1996. Their main goal is to help associations, and nonprofit, wellness, and health organizations of all sizes.
How to Start Managing an Inherited Sales Team
The truth of the matter is this: a lot of sales leaders often change positions within the span of a year, two years, or three years.
Along with these changes come an inherited sales team. Sales leaders often find themselves taking over a sales team that they may not have chosen. Often, they also don’t have the luxury or option to completely re-scale the team.
The question is, how can sales leaders manage this kind of slippery situation?
As Moore said, all sales leaders have most likely gone through this kind of situation in their career. With that said, it is inevitable. This is when you may have found yourself shaking your head and asking how the team member got hired in the first place.
One piece of advice he gave is to first figure out who the members with high potential are. You can categorize your people to see who are the high performers and who are those who need additional guidance.
The important thing is you put yourself in a position to win long-term.
Moore noticed that lower-performing members tend to take themselves out of their role once they see a new leader running things differently. They seek something else on their own, so oftentimes, you don’t need to remove them proactively.
These team members will look at your new leadership style and metrics and say, “These aren’t a good fit for me anymore. I’m going to go find something else,” then the separation will happen naturally.
What to Consider Before Downscaling
When it comes to downscaling a sales team, some leaders wonder if they should eliminate a certain number of people to help set an improved standard, while some wonder if it’s best to go with the natural attrition as a result of the change in culture.
Moore advises sales leaders to be careful with this kind of decision-making. As he said, every situation is going to be different, so sales leaders need to figure out the most effective solution.
The decision to downscale will also depend on the size of your sales team. If you have a team of a hundred, then you can consider cutting off the bottom 10% or 20%, depending on your standard.
The catch is, you need to have a good hiring process to replenish the people you will lose. Remember that no matter how big your team is, you’re going to take a hit when you decide to downscale.
Sales leaders need to ask themselves these questions before they move forward with downscaling:
- How much of a hit can your sales team afford?
- What does your hiring pipeline look like?
- Can you take that hit and still not lose significantly on productivity?
How to Own and Optimize an Inherited Sales Team
A struggle that sales leaders face with an inherited sales team is how they can establish their identity and own the team. Moore shares with us the four ways how to get the most out of your sales team.
Build the Trust of Your Sales Team Members
Being the new sales leader, your first step should be to build the trust of your sales team.
The way to establish their trust is through direct, clear communication. According to Moore, he had yet to find a problem that he can’t solve with better communication.
Building trust is important regardless of if the previous leader left on bad terms or on good terms. Regardless of how that leader left, there are things you’ll do differently, so you need to establish your sales team’s trust in your type of leadership.
If you don’t know anything about your team personally, it becomes more difficult to build trust.
You don’t necessarily have to go out with them for drinks every day, but it doesn’t hurt to spend time with them once in a while. Let them see your human side and show them that you’re invested in their success.
Remember, though, that you should always know when to draw the line between your personal and professional relationships. Even if you have good intentions for connecting with your people on a personal level, there’s still a good chance that this could turn into a liability.
Don’t stop reaching out to your team, but be conscious of your actions. Find the right balance between your personal and professional relationships.
Have Specific Goals
Any leader should have specific goals for their team. When you’re able to give your sales representatives targets to achieve and very specific instructions, you’ll be able to build trust and transparency.
Being specific with your sales team also improves your communication with each other. Ambiguity can cause confusion and lead to miscommunication.
For instance, if you’re leading an inside sales team, you can use call metrics or outreach attempts as their key performance indicators. You need to be very specific on the targets you expect them to hit regularly, so they can do their job well.
If you don’t have specific goals, don’t expect that you can change anything for the better.
Get People to Become Part of Your Vision
Getting people to become part of your vision and having them work towards achieving it is the most challenging part. You can build personal trust, but you may also need to bring back that corporate trust.
As Moore said, this goes right back to communication and transparency. Figure out where the gaps are and where you can bridge them, then create your vision of how your can sales team can grow.
Make sure you communicate your vision and involve your team in the conversation as much as is reasonable. Regardless of the nature and scale of the changes you want to make, you’d want to involve them in the process.
Get them to buy in and be a part of that vision casting. This is important because your sales team needs to understand the reasons behind the changes you want to make.
You can get your directors and sales managers to buy in first so they can influence your salespeople to do the same. When everyone in the organization shares your vision, it becomes easier to achieve. You’ll find that you’ll be on the same page when it comes to the path that will take you there.
Figure out Effective Communication Channels for Your Sales Team
A lot of sales leaders slip up when it comes to finding effective channels to communicate with their sales team. Moore recommends finding a mix of communication channels that will work for your organization.
The size of your team will also affect how you communicate with them. If you’re a VP, it’s hard to communicate directly to the entire organization unless you’re doing it through your directors. That’s why you need to empower and enable your core team.
If you have more direct access to the team, you can have daily huddles and weekly sales meetings.
Set up one-on-one discussions with your team members and prioritize them. If you miss those one-on-one meetings, your credibility takes a hit.
Your team needs to feel that you are putting them first and that their activities and productivity are important to you. Taking away the value of your one-on-one meetings causes problems in morale and your relationships with your team.
The frequency and length of each meeting you set up depend a lot on how much coaching you can do. You also need to consider the time that the other parties can spare for these meetings.
How to Take Over from the Previous Sales Leader
Undeniably, incoming sales leaders also have concerns over taking on the role of a previous leader.
As Moore advised, the worst thing you can do is to badmouth your predecessor and throw out blame. When you do this, it signifies that you’re selling from weakness.
Always opt to sell from strength. Talk about what may be different under your leadership. Don’t speak negatively about whoever held your position before, because then you’re inviting comparisons.
According to Moore, comparisons don’t matter. What matters is you’re able to come up with concrete steps and appropriate metrics to produce a successful sales team.
How to Make Different Personalities Work Together
Moore admits that there is no silver bullet that will make different personalities and teams work well together.
As soon as you begin making organizational changes, you’ll encounter issues. Often, you’ll face resistance when you adjust a salesperson’s compensation plan, unless you add more benefits.
That’s why you need to let your sales team see how they can benefit from the changes you want to make. Start with the “why,” then get into the nuts and bolts of “how.”
The communication process is a critical component to success. If you don’t communicate with your sales team often and you’re not clear on the specifics, they’re going to latch on any ambiguity. This is often the reason why organizational changes don’t work well.
Advice for Sales Leaders
Moore left two very important tips for leaders who may be struggling with the team they inherited:
- Don’t try to be a hero. Don’t try to do it all by yourself. You need to recognize that there are other leaders in the organization who can help you out.
- Have your own mentors. Your mentors are objective and they hold you accountable to the standard that you want to set for yourself and your team. Having your own mentors will keep you on track as a sales leader.
Optimizing an inherited sales team is a challenge that most sales leaders encounter. The good thing is, there are ways to overcome and conquer this challenging task. Apply these practical tips so you can produce your own successful sales team.
What difficulties do you encounter when taking over a sales team? Share them with us in the comments section below.