In this article, we'll take a look at what it takes to build an effective sales team for your IT business from the top down. We will discuss how to fill the right roles, and how to implement the methodologies to reach tremendous success.
"Sales is the engine of business, but sales leadership is where it all starts." - Eric P. Wiseman, President, and CEO, VF Corp.
The first thing a company needs to do to build a successful sales team is to ensure that they have the right people in place. Too many companies think that it's all about strategy, but you might be going nowhere fast without the right people on board.
Let's get started!
Finding the Right Sales Methodology: Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up Sales Method
To begin, the best sales methodologies are consistent, but they allow for flexibility. A company should find a way to make sure that their employees can adjust and change based on the client's changing needs. It's important to keep an open mind about how you approach your clients because not every company operates exactly the same way or has the same processes. So be flexible!
As long as you have good people who listen well and know when it may benefit them to show initiative, it doesn't matter if there is one right answer or several different answers depending on what kind of business you're selling into. You'll still get results from either scenario!
The Bottom-Up Selling Strategy
The bottom-up approach starts with the people who are actually going to be doing the selling. You start from a more grassroots position and work up from there, which is why this strategy works well for smaller companies that don't have many levels in their organization.
One of the potential problems of starting at such a low level is that you could potentially miss out on the bigger picture. It's important for a company to have their leaders in place to take care of any issues before it becomes too much of an issue and negatively affects your sales.
When it comes to sales, not every company is the same. Some companies are newer or smaller and don't have very many levels in their organization. In contrast, others may be larger with several departments that contribute to making things happen within your sales department.
The bottom-up approach works well for these businesses because they can rely on each employee to do what they need to do without having too much oversight from management.
What is the Top-Down Approach?
The top-down approach is the idea that everything starts at the top and trickles down from there. In a sales organization, this means leadership must be committed to building an effective team from the get-go by implementing company-wide strategies that will help employees follow through with their goals for success.
In order to do so, management needs to establish a strong set of expectations from the top-down. This involves setting new goals and objectives that will help bring a more effective focus to employee efforts and develop an understanding of what is required throughout each stage of the sales process.
In order for this approach to be successful, it must involve everyone in management having a clear idea about how their individual roles contribute to the organization's overall success.
Overall, both sales strategies can work well, but both require a strong commitment from management to be effective. More than these two sales strategies, it's important to ensure that you have the right people in place and understand how each of those roles plays a part in your overall success.
The Advantages of a Top-Down Sales Strategy
Here are the benefits of using a top-down sales method:
- You get a more complete picture of how the sales process works.
- There's less room for error since you have people who can help balance out any issues during your sales cycle.
- There's a better focus on the company as a whole, so everyone is more likely to work well together.
- This strategy incorporates every department as a whole, which ultimately helps your sales team to work together more effectively.
The Disadvantages of a Top-Down Sales Model
Here are some disadvantages associated with a top-down method:
- It may take longer to get started because it requires management buy-in and support from everyone involved, which takes time if they aren't used to this kind of organizational structure.
- It could stifle some of the sales efforts of your sales team since management may be too "hands-on" and want to control every step.
At the end of the day, there isn't one right answer or one perfect strategy for building an effective sales team; but instead, there are multiple strategies that work well depending on what type of consumer market you're working in.
How to Set Up a Top-Down Approach
The first thing to consider when looking at a top-down sales approach is how it will impact your company's overall culture. If you want a practical, bottom-up strategy that brings results, the employees need to be on board with what you are trying to do and know exactly where they fit in.
1. Set Clear Goals
One of the best ways to approach any sales strategy is through setting clear goals and objectives. This starts with management, who should establish achievable targets that will help your sales reps determine what kind of results you are looking for from employees throughout different stages of the sales funnel.
By using these key company metrics as your guideposts, you can begin to set specific strategies in place, so everyone knows exactly what steps need to be taken at each stage within this top-down framework. Establishing a system like this helps create consistency across all departments while also allowing employees to know exactly where their efforts fit into the big picture.
The one thing about having an effective sales organization built on a solid foundation is that it requires buy-in from every person.
2. Train and Develop Employees
Another thing to consider is the level of training your sales team will require for you to be successful at implementing a top-down strategy. This starts with management, who should ensure that their employees know exactly what they need from them and how each person can contribute effectively throughout different stages within the sales process. You can opt to purchase training services for your team or seek help from consulting services, who can work with your company to identify the different skills and proficiencies employees need to move forward.
This also includes creating opportunities for professional development. Hence, everyone has access to coaching and feedback on where they are excelling and areas that could use some additional work. Encouraging this kind of learning environment makes it easier for managers (and entire teams) to focus on building upon strengths while also identifying key skill sets that may need more attention moving forward.
3. Creating an effective culture
At the end of the day, implementing a top-down strategy on your sales team is all about establishing an effective culture. This means ensuring that management has created clear standards and expectations throughout different stages of the funnel while also encouraging employees to work together towards achieving their goals for success.
To be successful at this, it's important to focus on building company values that will help guide everyone within your organization regarding how they should act when representing both themselves and your brand overall.
This kind of shared vision makes it easier for managers (and entire teams) to remain consistent with one another so you can ensure quality across every aspect of what you are looking to accomplish through these efforts.
4. Incorporate accountability within your sales team
Sales and business leaders should be able to ingrain accountability within their company to be successful when implementing a top-down approach. By holding yourself and your employees accountable for the work you are doing throughout different stages of this process, it becomes easier to measure how successful everyone can be at fostering an effective top-down approach within their organization.
Accountability starts with management, who should create opportunities for employees throughout different sales stages to be accountable for what they are doing regarding moving the business forward.
This also includes holding yourself as a manager responsible for your own work ethic and how you show up within different areas of responsibilities throughout this process. By creating an environment where everyone is held accountable, it gives management (and entire teams) more control over their ability to track activity and ensure that everyone is doing everything they can to achieve their goals.
5. Employ enterprise software systems that can help measure success
With a top-down approach to sales management, it's important for everyone in the organization to have access to tools that will help them track their own progress.
This can include creating customizable reports or using software solutions that allow you and your employees to monitor metrics throughout different funnel stages. Hence, they know exactly where they stand compared with other team members.
6. Hire salespeople who have grit
Hiring the right people for your sales organization is oftentimes a challenge. Not only do you want to hire someone who has experience within this industry, but it's also important that they have grit and are driven by what they are doing on a daily basis throughout different stages of this process.
Securing large deals is oftentimes a combination of luck, hard work, and being in the right place at the right time. The real challenge comes from maintaining your momentum, so hire salespeople with "stick-to-it" personalities so they can handle the ups and downs associated with the industry.
Fill the Right Roles for Top-Down Sales Success and What to Look for in a Sales Leader
The first step that any company must take is to ensure they have all of their holes filled with competent individuals who can help drive your sales organization towards success. Here are some traits to look for in a sales leader:
- A sales rep should have the ability to build rapport and trust
- A strong work ethic that is evident throughout different stages of the buying process
- Understanding how to sell a product/service effectively through all types of communication mediums (in-person, over the phone, etc.)
- A true salesperson has the competency and an understanding of what it takes to close deals from both sides. This includes being able to clearly communicate expectations with clients while also ensuring you are aware of any potential roadblocks in the adoption process.
- Your sales rep should be able to listen to customer feedback to ensure that they are constantly learning what it takes to be successful in their role.
- A good sales leader should not always go by the book. A good sales leader knows when to risk and when to play it safe. They commend every sales rep for a job well done, and they provide the best sales compensation to keep their sales teams motivated to work harder for the company.
At the end of the day, the best way to build a strong sales force is from the top down by surrounding yourself with people who will work well together and enable everyone involved to do their jobs better. It does not matter if you have the right sales strategy if you do not have the right sales model or the right sales team to help you with your business to business sales, enterprise sales, or any other sales you conduct.
More importantly, you do not hire salespeople just because of the great annual recurring revenue that your entire team brings in. You hire them and put them in sales teams to accommodate your consumer market and have reliable sales reps that can answer and serve every customer account you have.
Lastly, as much as sales strategies are important, you should also recognize the sales efforts of your customer success team. After all, your customers rely on them to guide them in the buying process, and they are the front line of defense when it comes to your customer account. So before you go out and try to sell your product/service, make sure you have the right team in place that is flexible enough to use different selling strategies to assist and win customers while also providing top-notch customer service that your customers deserve.