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Building a dream sales team


My appreciation for slowing down enough to read a good book and then reflect on the message has grown. I especially enjoy reading books on Leadership, Organizational Development and History. Over the years I have accumulated enough books to fill several shelves and now I’m starting to fill up the latest electronic devices like the Kindle or the iPad.

We deliver Results Chalk IllustrationWhen reading I tend to highlight, write notes in the margins or type out a page of key topics I want to remember. Recently while digging through some old notes and books I came across my list of the “Top 10 traits” for sales people. When I noticed the date on my list, which was years ago when I had the opportunity to build one of my first teams, I realized the traits still stand the test of time. They are as follows:

  • Self Starter– You want sales people to take initiative and have the desire to do an outstanding job. Being proactive is an excellent start.
  • Adaptability– Customers and markets are constantly changing, sales people must be nimble. They must maintain high levels of productivity in uncertain times.
  • Knowledge of the customer base– Sales people must clearly understand their customers and how they can bring them value.
  • Team Player– Although sales people tend to work independently, they are part of a team and they must be reliable to their team members. Pulling the team down is unacceptable.
  • Commitment to succeed– Sales people must recognize how to win an opportunity. They must be able to understand the customers need, then move fiercely towards the goal. They understand they will win as an individual, as a team, their company and the customer wins.
  • Sense of Urgency– This is hard to teach, but sales people must have it. Sales people must be instinctive in regards to prioritizing opportunities and know when to call “all hands on deck”.
  • Business Acumen– Competency is a must. None of us have all the answers, but we must know how and where to find them. Sales people must get to the resolution.
  • Communications skills– Sales people must have the ability to effectively communicate with others. This is not desirable, it is absolutely necessary.
  • Follow-up skills– Sales people must always hold on to the ball. Dropping the ball on any issue has a domino affect. It will cause harm to the creditability of the individual, the team and their company.
  • Low maintenance– Constant supervision and direction should not be necessary. If sales people exemplify the above mentioned traits, they have set themselves up for success whether or not their direct supervisor is present.

I have had the privilege to build and work with high performing sales teams over my career.  Sales teams with these characteristics can sell anything, in any market and you can depend on them to win repeatedly. As a Sales Manager your job is not to make every sales call or close every deal. When you build the team that has the characteristics listed above your focus should be on providing coaching, mentoring, planning advice, career development and performance reviews. Load the bench with people that have these characteristics and you have a team that will make it happen!