Power from the people: forming a championship sales team

A great sales team, like any team, is only as good as the people on it, each of whom comes in with their own strengths. Take your classic Chicago Bulls—you have Dennis Rodman for diving rebounds, Scottie Pippin for laser passes, and Michael Jordan for, well, just about everything.

Those skills made the Bulls a great team, but what made them a championship team—one that was greater than just the sum of its players—was something else. It was Coach Phil Jackson's strong leadership.

To maximize your sales, you need a championship sales team with strong leadership. Here are some tips to help ensure your sales team wins every time.

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Develop a thorough hiring process

As good as your product may be, selling requires strong salespeople who make connections. At the end of the day, it's people who convert, so you want to find salespeople who are confident, competent, outgoing, and charming. People who make good first impressions.

But that's not all you're looking for. Be sure to keep in mind that you're not just hiring someone to work alone—you're looking for someone to join your team and make it better. The best salesperson in the world could be a poor fit if they don't fit into your team. When one player doesn't fit, a team can fast become less than the sum of its parts.

So when you're hiring, make sure you have a plan in mind for your potential hire. What role on the team do you need this person to fill? Is this person familiar with your prospects and their needs? How will they fit in with the existing team? Asking questions like these will help determine not only if a potential hire is a good salesperson, but whether or not they are a good salesperson for your particular team.

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Practice, practice, practice

Putting a team together is the first challenge, making it a championship-level team is the next. What makes great teams great is preparation—great teams study and practice relentlessly until they're ready to enter each game and execute a plan.

Your team should be no different. Take the time to make sure each member of your team knows both the product and the prospect inside out—the more your team knows the more they will convert. Also be sure to assign specific targets for each member of your team—this not only helps your team work more efficiently, it helps you get each salesperson working to their strengths.

But coming up with a strong plan for your team is only half of strong and effective leadership. The other half is being dynamic and receptive to the changing needs of your prospects and the members of your team. Good leadership requires the flexibility to recognize that, sometimes, even the best game plans fail.

To lead your sales team to wins every time, develop a strong, flexible game plan and practice, practice, practice.