How do you paint a house that isn’t built yet?

Obviously you can’t, but when it comes to building a sales team that’s exactly what many companies try to do.

You’ve survived start up (and COVID) and are ready to up your game. You’ve recruited a Sales Leader and they have put together a sales team. You are ready to scale up and take on the big players, both customers and competitors.

You want to make a big impression from the start, so you are prepared to invest in your team; and the obvious place to start is sales training, right?

Wrong.

If building your sales team is like building a house, sales training is like painting and decorating. It’s a vital part of achieving sales excellence but it’s the last piece of the jigsaw, not the first.  So, what should the sequence be? Let’s go back to our house build.

Everyone knows a strong house starts with strong foundations; for a sales team, the foundations are your sales strategy. Everything you do builds on your values, your route to market, product/service mix, and everything else that informs your high-level approach to selling. Most importantly, your sales strategy must align with your overall business strategy. Does your sales strategy take your business to where you want it to be? If not, change it.

Once our foundations are ready, we can build our structure – the walls, roof etc. For a sales team that’s our sales environment – the space in which we work. What does our market look like? What competitors and alternative solutions are out there? What’s the economic or regulatory framework in which you must operate? The key is, does your sales strategy play to your sales environment? If not, you must find a different environment or reassess your strategy.

Once our house is built, we can begin to supply services such as power, water, and drainage. In your sales team that’s your sales processes, the things that enable sales effectiveness to happen. Things like your management structure, coaching regime, and marketing mix. These things make it easy for your sales team to deliver the value your customers are looking for and the sales growth you desire. Here the key, once again, is alignment; do your processes work in your sales environment and deliver your sales strategy? All too often the breakdown occurs here; a company embarks on a high value, consultative sales strategy but embraces low-value, transactional processes. It’s hard for a salesperson to develop a deep understanding of their customer’s needs if they are measured, and rewarded, on how many calls they make each day.

Now, and only now, can you get the decorators in. Now you can train your sales team.  It’s obvious when you think about it; there’s lots of different types of sales training – transactional, consultative, relationship-based, key account management, the list is endless.  Only when your strategy, environment and processes are clear and aligned can you decide which training content and approach is right for you.

Get it right and you will build a beautiful home that will last a lifetime – and a sales team that will give you the growth you strive for.