Growth Frameworks

Building and Managing High-Performing Sales Teams: Insights for Go-to-Market Leaders

With deep experience building and leading sales teams, Summit’s Tim Strickland understands well the process and planning required to construct high-performing sales teams and drive revenue growth. Tim joined Summit’s Advisory Partner program from ZoomInfo, where he served as Chief Revenue Officer and in other sales leadership roles as the company scaled from $144 million to more than $1 billion in revenues and navigated the transition from a private to publicly traded company. Here, Tim shares three key insights for sales leaders seeking to evolve and effectively manage high-performing sales organizations as their companies scale.

1. Prioritize Accountability

Whether team members are focused on driving new logo acquisition, upselling into an installed base or supporting customer success efforts, we believe accountability is a foundational characteristic of effective sales organizations. Accountability begins with leaders who clearly delineate responsibilities, provide clarity on metrics and take ownership of the team’s results.

“Clarity and accountability go hand-in-hand,” advises Tim. “As a sales leader, you need to provide clarity to your team – in the form of direction, metrics, feedback, etc. – so they have no question about where they should be spending time and they can be more accountable to the business goals. As a sales leader, I also need to hold myself accountable to deliver those results, even more so than my team. I would never ask anybody in my organization to work harder or put in more time than I would expect of myself.”

Establishing clear, consistent communication routines across your sales organization can help support accountability. Daily stand-ups and stand-downs and “shadowing” team members during sales calls can provide an effective means to facilitate real-time feedback and adjustments and establish a culture of accountability within the team.

“If you want to drive accountability, talk to everybody every day. Consistent communication compels managers to gain a comprehensive understanding of both their team's dynamics and the broader business landscape."

2. Hire for Today

As your business grows, it’s important to consider your current go-to-market strategy and resource accordingly. What’s the right type of leader to build this sales organization? Who is your target customer? What does your sales cycle look like? Are your leads inbound or outbound? You’re going to hire differently based on the stage of your business and the priorities of your go-to-market motion. It's not just about finding someone who can sell well. It's about hiring sales leaders and team members “who understand and have experience running the business that you run today,” according to Tim.

It’s vital, however, to look beyond surface-level abilities in order to help ensure your sales organization is well positioned for the opportunities of today as well as those of tomorrow.

“Hire professionals who you believe can optimize what you're doing in the present moment and help find the next set of opportunities to go grow into. It's the people who can manage – or fix, if necessary – the business that you've got today who have the aptitude to go find the problems that you're going to have to deal with tomorrow.”

3. Embrace Change

“The only constant in business is change.” Markets change; customers change; competitors change; your products and solutions change. As changes occur, sales leaders need to continually evaluate metrics and refine aspects of their go-to-market approach over time. Sometimes changes require a shift in mindset, an organizational transition, or a change in culture to move the company forward to reach new goals. In any of these scenarios, it’s important that your team members are receptive and ready to meet new demands.

You can support your team’s ability to navigate change by encouraging open communication and data-driven debate. As Tim describes it:  

“Changing culture is very much a ‘we’ job, not a “me” job. Being able to have an open dialogue about what is working and what’s not is crucial. It’s a two-way street: delivering feedback is one thing but being receptive to hearing it – without getting defensive -- is equally important. I believe being both empathetic and armed with information fosters the most productive dialogue. From there, you can lean on your team members to help bring others along. Change is a total team effort.”

As a member of Summit’s Advisory Partner program, Tim Strickland works with companies across the Summit Partners portfolio to help shape growth strategies focused on long-term value creation. You can hear more about Tim’s perspectives on factors that contribute to an effective sales organization and the complexities of sales team development in the following recent podcasts:

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The content herein reflects the views of Summit Partners and is intended for executives and operators considering partnering with Summit Partners.

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