Building a Sales Team
5 Tips for Building a Sales Team and Scaling Your Business
According to Harvard Business Review, sales organizations go through typical phases of growth. These include building a sales force, scaling it up, maximizing its productivity, and then, if necessary, culling the salespeople to include only the best of the best.
Any successful sales strategy includes a plan to make it through the initial “build” phase, which is critical to long-term success. During this stage, you need to ramp up enough sales coverage to bring your product or service to market. At the same time, you have to make decisions about your sales models. Will you use field salespeople, inside sales people or channel partners? Would you be better off with a mix of sales methodologies? If so, what is the right combination?
Once you’ve resolved these questions, it’s time to take five steps to building a sales team.
Step #1 Hiring a Sales Team: Find the Right Candidates
There are many places to find candidates. Entrepreneur suggests looking within your own company’s walls. After all, there are people in your organization who already know the ropes and may have the sales gene. Also, it’s a good motivator to offer opportunities to internal candidates. And even if your associates are not interested in sales, they may be able to refer you to former colleagues or friends who could do a stellar job.
You can look for new sales associates in other ways, ranging from mining your network to contacting headhunters. If you decide to recruit without external help, don’t forget to access LinkedIn, a treasure trove of talent at your fingertips. Remember, the salespeople who are happiest in their current jobs are likely those who are exceeding their quotas and raking in the commissions. They are probably the ones you would like to be selling for you, so it may be worthwhile to reach out to them.
Step #2 Train Them Without Delay
Once you have new salespeople on board, get them up and running as soon as possible. That doesn’t mean taking shortcuts in training to see if they sink or swim. It will likely not suffice, for example, to simply give them your product literature and have them shadow an experienced rep for a day or two.
So, create a thorough training program covering your product and your sales process. Include introductions to help new sales reps build their support network within your company. After you train reps, monitor performance and ask for their feedback to see if they have the know-how they need. If all is going well, stick with your training program. If not, tweak it as necessary until you and your trainees are satisfied with the results.
Step #3 Create a Sales Process and Repeat It
A proven, repeatable sales process helps to define how to manage a sales team. Also, it enables them to fire on all cylinders.
Start by defining the stages of your sales cycle. It begins with leads—people who provide contact information to your company. Since some of these individuals may not be interested in buying ever and others are not ready yet, the next step is to qualify them.
Generally, leads go through a couple of phases of qualification. First, some become “marketing qualified,” meaning it’s worthwhile to have your marketing team nurture these leads. After some time in marketing’s hands, a number of these leads will become sales qualified. In other words, they’re ready for your sales team to follow up. After that, prospects may move into demo or quote phase, or become a customer.
You should customize your sales stage definitions and your sales process to your customer’s journey and organization’s needs. Consider how your customers go about research to solve the problem your product or service addresses, how they consider various solutions and make a final buying decision. Understanding this will help you to build a sales process that creates a consistent brand experience, builds customer trust and satisfaction, and boosts retention rates.
Don’t build your sales process in a vacuum. Instead, consult with your most experienced, successful salespeople. Find out what is working for them and document it so others can duplicate it. Then, train all new reps on how it works. You don’t want them to through a trial and error sales process.
Step #4 Provide the Tools to Succeed
When it comes to sales, there are many moving parts. You cannot afford to have prospect and customer follow-up falling through the cracks. That’s why a CRM system is essential. It enables salespeople to juggle all their to-dos without dropping a single ball. And it minimizes paperwork…the part with which most salespeople struggle.
Also, CRM pipeline reports can be a powerful motivator. Reps can see the big picture and what they need to do to realize their goals. What’s more, other reports, such as those that identify cross-selling opportunities, provide detailed guidance to increase sales.
Step #5 Make Learning Continuous
Training should not be a one-time occurrence. Salespeople need feedback, sales tips and coaching on an ongoing basis. Also, learning should be a two-way street. Just as experienced reps can help you define your sales process, new hires can provide fresh perspectives that may revolutionize results.
Are you ready to start building a sales team and scaling your business? If so, you’ll need to hire the right people, create a repeatable sales process and provide the tools to support your salespeople.