There are many factors that contribute to the overall success of a sales force; one of which is the way the team is structured and organised. Having a common goal amongst team members, while giving each salesperson a specified responsibility for them to focus on, are basic concepts any strong sales leader will know to implement.
But when a sales team works well, it can be especially tricky to bring in a new team member without disrupting the careful balance of productivity that has been achieved so far. Here’s some tips on doing this as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
Clarify The Decision
“What am I doing wrong to make my employer think we need a new team member?” This is a common anxiety felt amongst salespeople upon learning a new starter will be joining. And given the times we live in, and industry we work in, it’s probably not a totally irrational way of thinking. If left unaddressed, nervous team members might even go as far as looking for alternative employment, or are left questioning their abilities. This is where effective and transparent communication comes in. Whatever your reason is for seeking to hire a new team member – whether it’s because you’re doing so well that you need more manpower on the sales floor to keep up, or because you’re looking for someone with a specific skill set in a space you’d like to branch out into, make sure it’s known to the existing group. In fact, you may even want to go as far as practising collaborative hiring to really engage your existing team and integrate the new member more smoothly.
Promote The Existing Work Culture
Social Identity Theory refers to the way we define ourselves and find our place within a group setting. Within this setting, we take comfort in knowing our position, and any external disruption to this can cause extreme anxiety or even bullying behaviours to emerge in attempt to protect the group dynamic.
In other words, if a sales team are already thriving, and get along well with one another in the workplace, the last thing they want is for a new person to come in and rock the boat. Not only will it cause upset within the existing group, but could be detrimental to the productivity of the newer member also.
This is why it’s important for the new team member to be dedicated to ‘fitting in’ with the existing positive work culture. It is the hiring manager’s job to therefore identify what works well, understand where a gap in the team can be filled and to seek out the right fit for that gap so that the entire group can continue to function as productively as they did before.
Assign a Mentor
Giving one of your more seasoned salespeople the job of mentoring a new starter serves two purposes. The first is that it provides your existing staff member with a new authority, as well as a great opportunity to build their leadership skills. Any salesperson with an interest in progressing to managerial status in the future would welcome the chance to mentor. Secondly, it takes a load off the team leader or manager, freeing up time to focus on the sales force as a whole.
Discuss Team Dynamics in One-To-Ones
According to leadership expert Dan Rockwell, there are a handful of dangers that can drag a team down if they’re not addressed. These include group tensions being tolerated, dead weight being condoned and self protective behaviours taking root. A way of confronting these issues is to have one to one supervisions with each individual team member to talk it all out.
If a salesperson has a mixed view on a new starter and the way the team dynamics have changed, and needs assistance in unpacking what’s been going on, a private, undisturbed conversation can provide the manager with invaluable feedback and allow the salesperson to be heard and understood.
It’s always exciting when someone new comes on board, but it can be a difficult hurdle for the group as a whole unless tactical and thoughtful actions are incorporated into the process.