3 Steps to Aligning Sales Teams and Maximizing Results

Get over thinking that salespeople are 'coin-operated.' That realization is the first step toward great leadership.

learn more about Jay Larson

By Jay Larson • Sep 9, 2015 Originally published Sep 9, 2015

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As companies grow, one of the most important questions they seek answers to is how to increase results and revenue. Never has it been truer that the key to a successful, growing business is an aligned sales team.

Related: 3 Best Practices of All-Star Sales Forces (Infographic)

Lack of congruence translates to diminished results and smaller profits. Fix the internal alignment problem first, and you'll be far more successful in all other endeavors. So, how can you get the most out of your sales team and find the precise way to structure and lead its members to obtain the maximum benefit? Here are three ways:

1. Become an advocate for your sales team.

As a sales leader, make it clear to your team members that you view them as your customers. If they are successful, then you as the business leader are successful. If they fail, you, too, did not deliver. Let them know that you are all about helping them excel, beat quota and, at the end of the day, reap the financial rewards. By integrating with your sales team, you leave no room for doubt about your intention to see them succeed.

The prevailing thinking is that salespeople are "coin operated," meaning that top sales talent responds best to financial incentives and recognition. These views are outdated and miss the mark. Today, top sales reps want to work for leaders who are invested in their success, can show them a path to quota and will help them develop both their sales skills and general business skills.

Great sales leadership isn't confined to just these particular investments, though. Instead, often, leadership involves inspiring, motivating and encouraging team members' aspirations to be leaders within their local teams, regions and the overall company.

Top sales reps want to advance their skills and work for leaders who motivate their growth and encourage them to become the best salespeople possible. This focus on giving reps a path to quota and helping them achieve their personal development goals is just as important as the traditional levers of big commissions and management accolades.

2. Be consistent.

Part of advocating for your team members entails making sure that they are all on the same page and set up for success. Sales managers are doing a disservice when they send their teams into the field without a proper idea of what works and what doesn't.

Ideally, the actions of everyone in the sales organization should support the company's strategic goals. For this to happen, the sales force members need to clearly understand the overarching company strategy and, more importantly, how their sales playbook supports these goals.

Related: 5 Strategies for Driving Sales With Thought Leadership

Equip your teams with tried-and-true tactics and real-life examples about how to implement your sales strategies. With passion and gusto, show sales reps what works and highlight the best path forward.

This consistency and alignment should carry through in all sales interactions -- even at the global level. For work in other regions, some things may vary, such as the partners you work with or the customer profile, but a company's business message should not waver. Aligning global sales teams requires consistency across every region because, ultimately, no matter where you do business, you are solving the same business problems and addressing the same pain points.

3. Spend time walking in their shoes and in the field.

You have to be able to get people fired up about your product or service and why you do business. And to do so, you need to have senior-level leaders, including the CEO, out in the field so they can truly understand what sales reps are up against.

Sales-driven organizations that want alignment within their teams should lead by doing. Out in the field, they can reinforce what works and what doesn't and see firsthand how other sales-team members perform. Real-time management feedback and reinforcement will continue to solidify alignment across all sales interactions.

A world-class sales team drives consistency and execution to enable each salesperson to perform at his or her best. Simply put, internal alignment leads to external sales success.

Related: 3 Reasons Why You Should Manage Sales Activity Instead of Pipeline

Jay Larson
Jay Larson is Birst’s CEO. He brings more than 25 years of experience in the software industry to Birst and has been a pioneer in building software-as-a-service companies. Prior to joining Birst, Larson served as the president of Worldwide Field Operations at Jive Software. Before leading the Jive field team, he spent five years at SuccessFactors, where he was vice president of enterprise sales, propelling revenue from approximately $100 million to more than $350 million, leading to the company’s eventual acquisition by SAP.

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