As a small business owner, you want your sales team to employ effective sales techniques – techniques that convert prospects to buyers who become part of your customer base.

The creation of an effective sales team may take time as you look for the best from the pool of sales professionals, but you can shorten the time it takes by training new sales employees to do it your way – the way that got you to where you are today.

New sales are tough, and maintaining happy clients or customers can be tougher still. How you train your sales team can make the difference between long-term business success and a crash-and-burn scenario that costs you money, energy, and time.

Train the sales team right to give your company the best chance of success.

Be a mentor. Mentors serve the sales team, not the other way around. Avoid the “boss” image and become a teacher or mentor. As a mentor, your objectives are simple:

  • Set sales goals and objectives
  • Create the company’s approach to sales
  • Develop teamwork among the sales staff to shorten the training period and get new hires up to speed sooner
  • Have standard sales policies and expect that these policies will be followed, i.e., don’t make promises your company can’t keep to avoid losing disappointed clients
  • Lead by example. Follow the same in-house rules as other sales personnel, be available to assist without becoming distracted;
  • Delegate responsibilities.
  • Provide actionable strategies so sales pros know your expectations and how to reach those expectations.

Provide the right tools to close the sale. Sales incentives work. A smart phone is a “must have” for salespeople on the road. Load customer relationship management (CRM) software on each sales employee’s smartphone or tablet to track current orders. Provide the tools to get the job done and to get the job done properly.

Don’t manipulate the sales team. A number of management basics are designed to manipulate employees into agreeing to policies and tactics they wouldn’t necessarily accept. These management basics are similar to sales tactics employed by the sales team. Most salespeople will recognize when you’re manipulating them using the same tactics they use daily on their business prospects. If you use the same tactics to sway opinions of salespeople, they may feel manipulated, and even angry.

How to handle the problem? Be open, be transparent, be clear, and keep it simple. Be honest with the sales force to create a force to be reckoned with.

Provide regular feedback. Individuals won’t get better if you don’t show them how. Provide constructive criticism, but do it privately. Don’t criticize an employee in front of his or her peers.

Conversely, recognize positive sales information with praise. Give credit to the members of the team who exceed expectations and praise openly. It doesn’t cost you anything to tell an employee, “Good job.”

Get input from the sales team. If your team tells you something isn’t working, that’s information you need quickly. Your sales force knows what works and what doesn’t. Ask for input, then act accordingly.

Explain your business decisions. Get the sales team on the same page by explaining why this or that decision was made. Gather input, make a well-considered decision, explain why. This approach shows respect for the salespeople – the men and women who bring in the work and grow your business.

Be yourself. Even if you prefer a highly-structured approach to business, you can still be helpful and fun. Don’t be “the boss.” Salespeople are already driven, so be yourself, have some fun, and don’t order your team around. You’ll get better results when you can just be yourself.

Bring consistency to the workplace. Don’t act one way on Monday and do a 180 degree turn and act differently on Wednesday. It’s important that the sales staff trusts you, and the key to building trust is to be consistent in your directions and expectations.

Go from good buddy to bad guy, and your team won’t trust you to react the same way each time you receive good or bad news. Consistency builds employee trust, and that builds successful companies.

You’ll get better results when you respect the skills of a well-organized sales force that provides consistent information to prospects while keeping you up to date.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.