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How to Create a Winning Sales Team

Being able to build a successful team matters. Businesses aren’t made of individuals, as much as it can be easy to think so! Many sales professionals are into their personal development, and plenty of sales managers spend time researching leadership, but team building isn’t always on the reading list.

We’re hoping that today’s blog article will inspire you to start making team building a priority – but not a priority in the old school sense, centered on awkward exercises that may not have been so helpful.

Get your bookmarking fingers ready because we trust this post will provide plenty of tips to create a winning sales team.

Build Good Recruitment Practices

Hiring is a vital part of team building, and it’s never as simple as we might think. We’ve actually written an article about hiring remotely, given this is now the norm for so many of us.

So often we are used to picking the “qualified” candidate: the candidate who has experience in the field, or even accreditations that are relevant to the industry. Some workplaces, however, are creating winning sales teams by hiring based on soft skills; apparently, as many as 6 out of 10 managers have shifted to this approach. Mckinsey recommends including interview questions that prompt candidates to share what they’ve learned from their past to give a sense of how self-aware they are.

A man and woman shaking hands over a table. The photo is taken in birds-eye view.

Focus on Building Group Emotional Intelligence

Here’s one you may not have asked yourself before: when was the last time you worked on group emotional intelligence within your team? In fact, have you heard the term at all?

Emotional intelligence is a term you’re likely familiar with in an individual sense. The term is defined as “the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.” One groundbreaking study found that group emotional intelligence isn’t just beneficial to winning teams, it’s essential. But it’s not without challenge: “Team emotional intelligence is more complicated than individual emotional intelligence because teams interact at more levels.” It’s easier to analyze individual emotional intelligence than it is a whole team’s.

How do we promote group emotional intelligence when building a team?

Emotional intelligence (known as EI or EQ) doesn’t need to be an innate skill; it’s possible to grow this skill just as you would work on your knowledge of your field, learn your company’s processes, or gain strength in your favorite hobby.

If you are yet to explore EI, you can start out by:
Bringing emotional issues up into the daylight. Encourage open conversations and create an environment of trust.
Create routines that enable group understanding. Trello makes time every Friday for casual chats about the challenges team members faced and mistakes they may have made during the week, to normalize working through team emotions.
Model the behavior your team needs to embody yourself as their leader; culture comes from the top. down, so show your team that you’re walking the walk alongside them.

Create a Growth Environment

We know that humans need a sense of progression to feel like we are doing well in our lives, and leaders are aptly placed to provide a growth environment for employees. Without progression, it’s easy for us to feel like we are stagnating, we’re not learning anything new, and that we’re in the right job even when we have the skills to do it.

The good news is that there are many ways to create an environment where growth is encouraged. If you’re stuck for ideas, we recommend:

In your weekly internal newsletter or bulletin, create a section dedicated to the books and videos you’ve learned from that week. These don’t need to be work-specific; it’s all about creating a culture where learning is celebrated.
Consult with your team members on what they’d like to learn, instead of taking the lead on training or events you organize.
Include questions related to personal and team-based development in your team feedback surveys.

Make Your Sales Team Feel Involved and Empowered

Thankfully, leadership styles are evolving in many ways, including recognizing the significance of not speaking down to employees.

In 20th Century-style management, leaders were there to dictate to employees, excluding subordinates from the decision-making process. The result was disenfranchised employees who were unable to engage in the mechanics of their work, limiting esteem and career satisfaction.

Building from the above tip to ask the team what they want to learn, show employees you want a culture where they can speak up and be engaged. It’s natural to fear that this approach would degrade authority and weaken the team, but research shows that the opposite is true. Better decisions are made, and staff engagement skyrockets, which is especially valuable given the expense involved with high staff turnover.

A group of 5 young people gathered around a laptop, all smiling and talking suggesting they are working together as a team

Takeaways

  • Build practices that center group emotional intelligence in your management style
  • Promote open conversations, make sharing mistakes routine, and demonstrate the behavior you need from your sales team
  • Work on recruiting systems, including ones that vet soft skills alongside working experience
  • Focus on a growth environment by celebrating learning work and non-work-related subjects, asking your team what skills they want to develop, asking great questions in feedback
  • Empower your sales team by including them in decision-making, to raise staff retention and engagement.

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