How to Build a Top-Notch Team

by Jason Forrest

In the sports world, there’s a draft pick every year. This systematic event forces coaches to compare their existing players to the new players out there. Selling homes is another performance-based career, but we don’t tend to think of it that way. We sometimes wait until a turnover to even think about bringing someone new on board. We have got to change our approach to these decisions.

Top-grading your team requires that you invest in it. It also happens to be one of the most worthwhile investments you can make. Identify people with the qualities you need (such as high motivation, goal-driven mindsets and the ability to handle conflict) and move them forward in the process, even if you don’t have an immediate need for a new sales pro. This forces you to constantly analyze your team and compare them to other people in the world.

Think of it like picking stocks – don’t get emotionally attached. Look at your overall goal and see if your purchase (or new hire) fits the plan. Having a culture where no one is safe unless they sell keeps people on their toes. It’s not about scaring people but about building a culture where agents have to produce, perform and add value. If other people come around who can add more value, the people who are already there know they can be cut.

To evaluate whether a person is the right fit, consider the following questions:

  • How much potential do they have?
  • How soon will they reach that potential?
  • How much time, energy or commitment will it cost me to get them to that point?
  • How much will it cost me to keep them operating at their full potential?
  • Are their personal goals higher than my goals for them?
  • Will they be a better performer than at least half of my current sales team?
  • If I didn’t hire this person, would I be threatened if they worked for someone else?

To take it one step further, consider investing in third-party assessments, which aim to provide objective feedback about an individual’s characteristics and tendencies. These tests are designed to measure the characteristics thought to contribute to a successful sales career.

And to take it one step backwards, evaluate your current team first. Then, bring people on board only if they’re better than the top 50 percent of your current team. This applies even when you desperately need a new person to fill the demand. Don’t bring people on board unless they move the game forward in the long-term.

Be patient. Make the right move, not just the right-now move. Just as in the game of chess, you have short-term and long-term goals. Make your decisions accordingly. Great people are hard to come by, so if you find them, bring them on your team.


Jason Forrest is a sales trainer; management coach; member of the National Speakers Association’s Million Dollar Speakers Group; and the author of three books, including his latest, “Leadership Sales Coaching.” One of Training magazine’s Top Young Trainers of 2012, Jason is an expert at creating high-performance sales cultures through complete training programs. He incorporates experiential learning to increase sales, implement cultural accountability, and transform companies into sales organizations. In 2013, he won a Gold Stevie Award for Sales Training Leader of the Year.

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