In a fast-growing tech company, there are a million ways to distract your sales team if you aren’t vigilant.
As a founder who led the sales team on of my core strategies was to insulate my sales team from the distraction of the rest of the company. I believe this was one of the main reasons for our strong sales performance.
I am surprised more company leaders don’t do this. In fact, it feels like a lot of companies do the exact opposite.
Fundamentally, to perform at a high-level sales teams should be put in a distraction and worry-free bubble. Selling requires grit, fortitude, consistent effort, positivity, and belief. When a sales team is distracted by the roller coaster of running a company, shifting strategies, changes in messaging or direction, and endless non-sales meetings it makes it hard to focus on actually selling.
Insulate as much as possible
The sales team doesn’t need to be in every meeting. They need to be in the right meetings. The sales team also doesn’t need to sit around and hear about half-finished ideas, theories or strategies. They need to know just the information that impacts them. I am not talking about being opaque. You can lead with transparency and still insulate your sales team from needless distraction.
For example (and this is just one of hundreds of similar examples), when someone once proposed (strongly, I might add) “Let’s have the sales team in our monthly churn meeting so they can hear all the churn reasons and stories directly. This will help them spot red flags earlier.” My answer was “NOPE”.
If you have your sales team sit around for an hour every single month hearing about the customer war stories and losses of that month, it’s going to be a major drag on their energy, positivity and unwavering belief. Many of the things discussed in a customer churn meeting have nothing to do with sales and touch on things they have no control over. So instead, I had a single sales executive in that monthly meeting, and they synthesize the salient points and lessons learned that would help sales close better customers. They sifted out the stuff that didn’t apply to sales, and just brought back the key learnings that could help the sales team sell to better customers. And, I picked the most resilient executive, who could withstand the bummer of a churn meeting and understand the context without letting customer churn ‘get in their head’.
When it comes time for a positioning change or a messaging update, package it for easy consumption. Communicate changes and updates in a concise manner. Keep it to the point and only include what matters to selling. Document it in a quick reference and pop it into the sales playbook as well.
Simply framing changes and updates through the sales lens can help tremendously (providing just why it matters to sales and what the sales team needs to know). For example, I would often have a quick huddle with my sales team after company-wide meetings to synthesize just the most salient points for sales, like a verbal quick recap so they could toss out the rest and retain just what mattered most. I would boil down a one-hour all-hands packed full of information into a 5-minute recap for them, so that would be what they would retain.
Reduce all sales friction
What is sales friction?
- Anything that extends the sales cycle.
- Anything that puts a hurdle in the path of the sale.
- Anything that distracts sales management and salespeople.
It’s so easy to introduce sales friction. Change up how you handle free trials. Change up requirements to get a demo. Change how marketing handles lead qualification. Ask sales to gather up a bunch of pre-close customer data or content from the customer. And on and on. It’s not that you can’t do these things, it’s just that they should be decided through the lens of how it impacts the sales cycle and the buyer.
Bottom line: Protect your sales team like a mama (or papa) bear
Sales executives, and really all company leadership, should be stepping in front of distractions and hurdles to constantly clear the path for the sales team. I really do see this as a core responsibility of company executives, sales VPs, and even sales managers. It’s the key to a high-performing sales department.
Block and tackle for your team, insulate them from the inevitable company drama and distractions that pop up, be the champion for them and be their advocate inside of your organization. That’s how you win.