How to Manage High Performing Teams in Wholesale Sales

Johnny Marx
July 14, 2015

Building a team of high performers is no small feat, but that doesn’t mean your work is done once you’ve got one. No matter how good your sales reps are, any sales team requires strategic management and planning. If you’ve gotten to this point, chances are you already have a pretty good handle on managing your team, and you’re thinking to yourself, “what else could I be doing?” We’ve gathered a few fresh ideas on how to plan for the seasons ahead, build and maintain a team environment, and effectively structure your team so they continue performing like the sales powerhouses you hired.

Take an Individualized Sales Coaching Approach to High Performing Teams

Often, sales reps aren’t exactly interested in taking time to strategize with their managers. They’d rather just hit the ground running and spend all their time selling. While you definitely want reps that are eager to sell, it’s best to not just send them out into the field guns blazing. Meet with each rep to devise individual goals and strategies. Yes, you can set quotas, but a better way of pushing your sales reps to thrive is to set a mutually agreed-upon goal. Help your rep map out how to achieve that goal or quota by identifying his or her weaknesses and playing to their strengths. For example, if your rep knows the product inside out, focus on how he or she can use their knowledge to tailor their pitch to each retailer, rather than being a walking, talking brochure. Take this individualized approach one step further by not only setting weekly or monthly goals, but also planning for the year ahead. What goals or quotas do you want your rep to push him or herself towards? Where do they see themselves down the road? Encourage your rep to set ambitious goals––and meet them––by building their skills at an individual level and creating a yearly plan unique to each rep. This may sound daunting and time consuming for a sales manager, but ultimately, you want to push your reps to perform at their highest standards. Creating an individualized plan with your reps allows you to tap into their strengths and motivate them to aim higher. As you get better acquainted with your team, you may find that their individual needs and strengths overlap, and individualizing a plan for each rep will not be as time consuming as you move forward.

Build a Collaborative Environment

When you have a group of top sales performers, the competitive energy is high. This can be good, but you want to make sure your reps don’t lose sight of the team. Sales reps often get the stigma of “Lone Rangers,” driven individuals who are smooth talkers, motivated to be the best. A great way to reel in your “Lone Rangers,” is to hold effective sales meetings that build a team environment. Instead of spending your sales meetings going over mundane administrative tasks, talk about upcoming goals and brainstorm––as a group––a plan on how to get there. Creating a dialogue amongst your reps rather than talking at them, is a great way to increase communication amongst your team so they can learn from each other and strategize together. Breaking up with Paper has featured ideas on how to hold effective sales meeting before, but here are some fresh ideas for conducting sales meetings that promote team communication:

  • Divide your team into two groups and hold a contest. This is a great way to leverage their competitive spirit while team-building.
  • Hold activities when possible, such as team outings, happy hours, etc.
  • Have “Snoop days” by dividing your team into pairs and having them scope out your competition to report back to the group.

Recognize the reps who are doing well. For example, if one of your reps landed a big client, or got an existing client to drastically increase an order, acknowledge that rep in your meeting. It will make them feel appreciated by the team, and motivate the rest to keep up. Another good way to ensure that your reps stay committed to the team is to divide your group into subgroups, or “pods.” Even if they are very small groups, having a few other individuals to identify with, or turn to for help, can be a great resource for your reps. Competition amongst the pods will keep the high competitive energy that sales requires up, while also ensuring that your reps have a supportive team to rely on and contribute to.

Provide Structure and Delegate Wisely

A problem that is common amongst wholesale companies and their sales teams is that there is often an assumption that sales reps are responsible for both finding the customers (prospects), as well as selling the product. Managing your team under this assumption can be incredibly inefficient and costly. Instead, a better way to manage your team is to divide your reps into two groups based on their strengths. One group is made up of “hunters” those who are effective at prospecting. These are reps that excel at identifying customers and building relationships. The other group is made up of “farmers.” These reps are the deal closers––the team that shines at turning leads into sales. Structuring your team this way is a good idea because many reps who are “hunters” don’t make good “farmers” and vice versa. Of course, there will be overlap, which can be a useful as well. However, part of managing high performing teams is identifying the strengths of your reps and putting them in a position to use them. You want to be sure that you are dividing responsibility evenly amongst your reps. The “hunter” – “farmer” model breaks down when there is too much responsibility placed on one group, leaving both groups at a disadvantage. Do you have some great strategies for managing a high performing team? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!