As part of our Kick-Ass Sales Kickoff series, we give you tips to start strong in 2015.

Today’s post shows you how to assess your team so you can uncover skill and knowledge gaps and design the best agenda.

The sales kickoff demands clarity.  You must rise above the daily grind and answer the following questions:

  • What are your strengths?  Can you build on them?
  • What are your weaknesses?  Can you erase them?
  • Does your team show the right behaviors, skills and knowledge?

To answer these questions, you must appraise your team with a dispassionate eye.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Get Hard Data

Examine your sales funnel metrics at the corporate, team and rep levels.

Some questions you should answer:

  • Are we getting enough lead volume?
  • Are we engaging enough early prospects?
  • Are we creating enough qualified opportunities? (# and $)
  • Are we advancing and winning enough opportunities?
  • Are we closing enough opportunities?
  • Are we ramping up new hires quickly enough?

Where are we strong?  Where are we weak?

Are things getting better or worse?

2. Observe First-Hand

Hard data is useful, but it’s not enough.  You should also get data on rep behavior through direct observation.

Choose the behaviors you want and create a one-page evaluation form by role.  For example:

Sales Development Rep

  • Builds Rapport
  • Engages Prospects
  • Overcomes Objections
  • Qualifies (Basic)
  • Closes Next Steps

Account Executive

  • All SDR behaviors plus
  • Prepares
  • Knows Customer
  • Knows Product
  • Knows Competitors
  • Qualifies (Advanced)
  • Advances
  • Presents
  • Negotiates
  • Closes Deals

Do you use a sales methodology?  Or a tactic like the Challenger Sale Commercial Teaching Pitch?  If so, you should include the relevant criteria.

Once you’ve created your eval forms, observe your team members and take notes.

You can

  • Listen to sales calls
  • Attend meetings
  • Role play – not as useful as real sales situations, but can serve as effective proxies in a pinch
  • Make videos – ask your reps to record common pitches like
    • What’s your value prop?
    • Why do customers choose you over competitors?

3. Choose Priorities

Meet with sales leaders and a few key sales reps to discuss the hard data and the observations.

Pick 2-3 areas that apply to the entire sales team.  Schedule sales kickoff sessions to address them.

Also pick areas relevant to sub-segments of reps and schedule breakout sessions to address those.

In Conclusion

Don’t guess what your team needs.  Know.

You won’t waste time on the wrong content.  And you won’t omit the right content.

Happy Selling,
David