As a sales manager, it is your responsibility to build and support the best possible sales team. A strong team - backed by superior sales training and effective leadership - can elevate an organization to new heights of success. By the same token, a poorly prepared and underperforming sales force can prove to be a company’s downfall. In either case, the glory or the blame rests squarely on your shoulders.

Motivating and retaining a high-performance sales force is an important undertaking. You need to start with the right people, set attainable goals, find effective ways to motivate your team and ensure that everyone - including you - completes appropriate sales training. These key steps will get you and your team moving in the right direction:

    Hire internal sales staff rather than outsourcing.

While it might be tempting consider outsourcing as a way to save money, it’s best to have a sales force that is focused exclusively on your products rather than one that is juggling multiple clients. An in-house sales team will allow you greater control over the sales function and enable you to set strategy for the entire sales organization.

    Look for certain characteristics when hiring.

The best salespeople share certain characteristics in common. To assemble a winning sales team, look for candidates with the following traits:

o Eager to learn
o Highly competitive
o Great listening skills
o Undaunted by rejection
o Confident and optimistic

Be clear in your expectations.

Before sending your team out into their territories, make sure that all team members are aware of their responsibilities and your expectations. Review goals and objectives with each person, and put their deliverables and compensation in writing. Clear communication helps eliminate questions or confusion.

Use both financial and non-financial incentives to motivate your team.

While a commission-based compensation plan provides strong motivation, including base pay can help you attract and retain great people. This approach guarantees a minimum income during lean times, which helps keep morale high and minimizes the risk of losing experienced staff. A comprehensive benefits program can help you compete for the best salespeople, and public recognition is another way to encourage and reward outstanding performance.

Obtain formal sales management training for your team - and yourself.

Invest in some form of professional sales training for your entire staff, to ensure that all team members have a consistently high level of knowledge and skills. Consider online sales training that your reps can enroll in together but complete at their own pace and on their own schedule. An online certificate program offers the added benefit of official sales credentials, which can be a strong motivator. But don’t overlook your own training needs, because even the best managers have room for improvement. If you’re new to your role, look for sales management training designed to help you make the transition into a supervisory role. If you’re a veteran sales manager, seek out expert-level sales management training.

By following these steps, you can put your sales team - and your career - firmly on the path to success.

Author's Bio: 

University of San Francisco is a ground-based university which was founded in 1855 and designated by U.S. News & World Report as one of “America’s Best Colleges”. USF is also fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Their online programs include Internet Marketing, Supply Chain Management, Sales Management, and Business Process Management which can all be found at