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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   July 2009

6 Ways to Light a Fire Under Your Sales Staff

Assembling and nurturing a top-flight staff is a must in today's tough market

Great sales results come from making a commitment to leadership excellence. In rough times such as these, sales managers must be proactive in developing and leading their sales teams to achieve their goals. With this economy, a sales team is more critical to your company's success -- and perhaps its survival -- than ever.

Mortgage brokers who manage employees or who are seeking the skills to do so can play a crucial role in determining their team's and company's success or failure. Here are six key elements of leadership excellence that can help you prepare, manage and motivate your sales-team members in the next few months and beyond.

1. If you don't have great people, find them: Managers have three options with employees: Groom 'em, broom 'em, or do nothing and watch as mediocrity lowers your team's standards and drags you into a slump. Mediocrity is a disease that dampens vitality and sucks the innovation and energy out of any team. Ensure each team member contributes to your company's success. With so many talented individuals eager to prove themselves in our current marketplace, it's imperative for those who must rebuild to have the right networks in place to scout, select and recruit a powerful sales force. Just as professional sports teams seek the best talent they can find, so should you.

2. Develop your talent: It's not wise to throw a team member into the field without the support of ongoing coaching and training. To build and nurture a great sales team, managers must continuously train, coach and motivate their employees. Play to their strengths and work on their weaknesses. Keep them fresh, up-to-date and at the top of their game by using internal and external training. By doing this regularly, you can ensure that your team has the industry and sales expertise necessary to open and close sales confidently.

3. Set an expectation of excellence: Able and motivated people are the key to every sales team's success. Believe in your staff. Additionally, remind team members that they work for a first-class company with exceptional products, leads, support, training and compensation -- and that you only hire and retain top-notch people. This not only creates a sense of belonging and team spirit, but it also can demonstrate your confidence that employees have what it takes to be on the team and to live up to your company's expectations.

4. Retain high, feasible and measurable objectives: It's easy to lose sight of step-by-step progress. But looking at your progression with a wide-angle view puts your achievements in perspective. This can help make the amazing seem possible, and it can put your goals in reach for everyone. Objectives always should be reasonably high and evaluated regularly to help your company and its employees grow.

5. Challenge employees to do more: Great expectations are not just stretch goals. They are challenges to do the extraordinary. Getting your team members to think this way gives them a different perspective, spurs them to think big and helps break down barriers. Recognize milestones and encourage your team members to look back on their path. The goals that seemed impossible last year come closer with every milestone.

6. Consider the feedback you provide: Understand the power of your words. What you say forms your team's culture and beliefs, so always think before you speak. Set an example and lead by demonstrating the standards that you expect from your sales team. Don't talk about employees or disparage a superior in front of salespeople. Don't reprimand your people in front of others -- or your customers in front of your team.

When every company is trying to squeeze out the most profit feasible, it's unfortunately possible to forget about customer service. Keep your sales team focused on delivering excellence in every customer interaction. Each client is more important than ever; it's no time to cut back on service. Recall that your customers are the reason your career exists.

As a manager, practice what you preach, as well. Set an example of excellence in everything you do and say. Doing this demonstrates your commitment to the highest standards. It's one thing to talk big, but it's quite another to prove what you say through your own actions. Those managers who guide their team with expertise and act on their own advice will likely reap the rewards.


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