Technically, a sales force is not limited to simply all of the sales reps within a company's sales department. In reality, all company employees are salespeople, regardless of the department or position. If you work for the company, you should believe in the company. If you believe in the company, you should be capable of selling the company, if only by word-of-mouth, to every person you come into contact with.
That being said, a sales team is actually something different in that they are trained to operate as a team and have been through some type of sales skills training program. Before we can discuss the implementation of a well-trained sales team, we should discuss what constitutes a well-trained sales team.
Sales Teams and Sales Skills
The best sales training program tries to impart a variety of sales skills. Over the course of a training course, different salespeople are going to have different strengths and weaknesses. The more outgoing sales professionals might be great at public speaking and cold calling, but might be too pushy and cause damage to long-term relationships. More introverted salespeople might be shy when it comes to public speaking and cold calling, but can show empathy for customers and be good at active listening.
Eventually, all great salespeople can evolve outside of the limitations of their natural inclinations and balance the selling skills of both the extrovert and the introvert, but that usually does not happen at the beginning of a sales career. That is why a good sales manager has to know all team members and know exactly how individual personalities can benefit the entire team.
Sales Skills and Sales Strategies
Different sales skills can be used at various stages of the sales pipeline. Let's say that the product is snuff cans, for example.
At the first contact stage, outgoing personalities that are comfortable making cold calls can be quite useful in finding new opportunities. Social media presence is also an important skill at this first contact stage: blogging, SEO, LinkedIn networking, link building etc. Lead generation and lead qualification are also best practices for the first contact stage.
The next step is the follow-up stage. This is where the introverts have a chance to shine. Meetings are planned. Sensitive soft skills like active listening, empathy, building rapport, public speaking, CRM, and customer service are more useful at this stage.
Product knowledge is also important at this stage. Referring to the snuff product mentioned above, sales professionals involved in that particular campaign should have a knowledge of all of the smokeless tobacco products that are out there: dry snuff, moist snuff, chew, gum, etc., as well as any harmful chemicals that can increase the risk of mouth cancer, throat cancer or less serious problems like cavities and bad breath.
The final stage is the close, and you want to have the best salespeople on hand to close deals, which usually means your most experienced salespeople. The reason for this is that as you move further and further down the sales pipeline, you have more time invested in the potential customer. Losing a potential customer at the first contact stage is to be expected and can happen for any number of reasons. Losing potential customers at the closing stage can be quite costly.
The final stage also includes customer success. This includes relationship building, which is vital to referrals and repeat business.
The best way to implement a sales team is to have a sales methodology that takes each member's individual attributes into account. The sales process has more than one stage, and every sales rep, even a new hire, will have the opportunity to shine in at least one of these stages.