Building a Sales Team for Success
A business’s success comes down to how effective it is in selling their product or services. Finding prospects and nurturing them into customers is an art and it requires a team to be as motivated as they are qualified in order to find that sustained success. For your part, you need to take the time to hire the right sales reps for your business, determine what you need from each member of your team, and keep them motivated to sell. This process isn’t something that will happen overnight - it will take time and effort on your part to truly build a successful sales team.
When to start building a sales team
Before you can even think about building out your sales team, you need to make sure that you have a viable product that can be sold to the public. In these beginning stages, you want to build up the product’s viability yourself. You know the product better than anyone at this point and it would be difficult to take on a new sales rep who knows nothing of the product and expect them to be able to sell effectively to buyers. Instead of taking a new product, with a new sales rep who has no confidence in selling this new product yet, let the product speak for itself initially. Once you start to see for yourself that you have people interested in your business, you know you have a product that can be sold based on its merits alone. Now would be the time to start to build out your sales team.
By selling on your own, you probably have a solid foundation for what you believe your voice should be as a business. You’ve seen firsthand who your business can help and which buyers can become long term customers. And with this knowledge, you’ve probably developed at least a rough idea of what voice you want your future sales team to take on when making sales interactions. Hopefully, you’ve also developed a repeatable process that you can pass on to your future sales team. This foundation is going to serve as the jumping off point for your business. Now it’s time to hire the right people to do the job.
How to hire the right sales representatives
It can’t be overstated, you need the right sales reps to sell your products. It’s not just as simple as looking for the most talented sales people and bringing them onto your team. Just because they are the most talented doesn’t mean that they are right for your team. Finding passion, coachability, and a willingness to change when needed is just as important (if not more so) than talent. You can teach talent, you can’t teach a passion to sell and a willingness to learn.
This means it could be more beneficial for you to take on the greener sales rep who may not have the ideal experience level, but shows they are hungry to sell. Just as important, they are enthusiastic about your product and learning more about the finer details so that they can better represent your product to buyers.
Besides the art of finding the right sales reps for your company, there is a sort of science behind it as well. You need to have a detailed description of what you’re looking for. This is both for you so that you can check off boxes when applicable during the search, as well as for those looking for employment so that you are attracting the right people. You also want to make sure you have a way of bringing these candidates along and moving them through the hiring process. Just like you have a sales funnel for leads and customers, you need to have a hiring funnel for potential employees.
To break it down, follow these steps when trying to fill out your sales team.
- Define the job with specifics for candidates to reference (and yourself)
- Perform a wide search for candidates
- Have a vetting process, matching candidates to the criteria you’ve set
- Look for passion and enthusiasm for selling
- Have a way of funneling candidates through the hiring process
If you can keep these things in mind when building out your sales team, you will have a much easier time finding those candidates that fit your brand. The last thing you want to do is hire a team full of reps that are on a different page entirely than what you have in mind. Bring on like-minded reps who are hungry to sell.
Determine which roles need to be filled
Part of maximizing your sales potential and increasing your revenue is expanding your sales team to get your product out there more effectively. You’ve flown the solo mission and sold your product on your own for a while. You’ve built up a solid base of customers that you can rely on to keep coming back. But is this enough? For some, this is plenty to give them the success they’re looking for. For others, they have a need to bring in more revenue and build up a larger customer base.
If this is the case for you and your business, you will need to identify which roles you need to fill for your sales team to be successful. Properly filling out your team is an important part of scalability. You need the right people in the right positions in order to scale up your business.
Here are a few common roles that make up a successful sales team.
- Account Executive
This is your traditional sales rep. They are in charge of selling your product or services to prospects, developing them into customers that will continually come back for more. Because they are on the front lines of the sales process, they will have the biggest impact on the outcomes of deals, more so than any other member of the team.
- Sales Manager
Every great team has a leader setting the tone and providing effective coaching for the rest of the team. The Sales Manager will typically be the supervisor to the account executive, making sure their sales interactions are running smoothly, providing coaching when needed, as well as positive motivation for the team. They also will be keeping track of sales metrics that allow you to make smart decisions in regards to the sales process.
- Sales Development Rep
Whereas the account executive is in place to take a qualified lead and help nurture them into long term customers, the Sales Development Rep is in charge of qualifying the leads that get passed on to the account executives. They often serve as the first point of contact for new leads coming into your business.
- Sales Specialist
This position is designed to provide support for the sales team and the account executives in particular. Depending on how complex the sale is, the Sales Specialist can jump in to provide in-depth answers to specific questions or issues that may present themselves during a sale.
- Customer Service Rep
Nurturing a lead into a customer is just one part of the process for the sales team. You want that new customer to keep coming back to your business and to continue having a reason to buy your product. If they aren’t happy and aren’t given the attention they deserve after the initial sale, chances are they will be looking elsewhere to fill their future needs. This is where the Customer Service Rep comes into play. They are in place to ensure the customer’s needs are always being filled and that they have all of their questions or concerns answered in a timely manner.
Whether or not you have a need for each of these positions on your sales team is totally dependent on your business. But determining which of these roles you need filled and then actually filling them is a necessary step in developing a successful sales team.
Everboard your new hires and continue coaching your team
Everboarding is the process of continued learning for your sales team, even after the initial onboarding process. During the onboarding and training period for a sales rep, they are being fed a ton of information. Not all of that is going to stick with them throughout the duration of their time with your company. There will inevitably be sales interactions where questions will come up that they don’t have the answer to. This is where everboarding and coaching comes into play.
For your part, you need to invest time and energy into your sales team for it to be truly successful. Spending the time and resources to everboard your team and to provide coaching through those more difficult sales interactions is going to make or break your team’s success. Being able to listen in on sales calls and provide feedback and assistance when necessary is going to help your team sound more confident and competent when selling your product.
Giving opportunities for career building classes and training sessions is going to show your team that you believe in their future. Once your team is assembled, your job is not done. Invest the time and energy into your sales team and you will surely see the fruits of your labor.
How to build a sales team structure
Much like the roles you need to fill on your sales team, the structure you choose for the team will be dependent on your individual business. There are a few general team structures you can choose for your team, all with its own pros and cons.
This is a more traditional structure for your sales team, but also one that is becoming a bit outdated in today’s selling landscape. It actually does not involve much organization on your part at all. Essentially, you provide the team with some general training and content to use in their sales efforts and let them off on their own. It’s more of a lone wolf type of mentality that really only works with specific types of businesses like real estate.
- Takes little managerial effort on your part
- Great for sales processes with only one or two step closes
- Little control over the sales process and how your brand is voiced
- Difficult to keep track of sales metrics, etc.
- Outdated in today’s sales landscape
The “Assembly Line”
The “Assembly Line” is a team structure that allows the sales process to naturally flow through the sales funnel. Each member of the team has their role defined and will have a part to play in the sales cycle. It creates an environment that is good for specialized roles and a team effort.
- Creates an easier way to identify and pinpoint issues within the sales funnel
- With the specialized roles, there is more efficiency in the sales team’s efforts
- Allows for some predictability for the team
- If you’re a smaller business with a smaller team, it will be hard to fill all the roles necessary
- Miscommunication and friction between each part of the sales funnel is possible
- Having specialized teams can create isolation from the overall goal of the business as they become hyper focused on their individual roles.
Similar to the “Assembly Line”, the “Pod” focuses on creating small groups (pods) within the sales team that each focus on specialized roles. Instead of using the large teams for each step of the funnel, these close-knit “pods” will be made up with members from each part of the entire sales team. This “pod” will then be with the customer through every step of the process, creating a more customer focused effort.
- By having these teams in place, each member not only cares about their individual step in the process, but the customer journey as a whole
- Less chance for miscommunication as the “pod” will be together through the entire process
- Flexibility within pods since every part of the team will be represented throughout the entire journey
- The dynamic of having small teams takes away that opportunity for competition to push individual reps
- Lack of specialization as each member of the “pod” essentially becomes familiar in each step of the journey, at the cost of not focusing on more specialized roles.
Sales enablement tools to build and empower your sales team
You’ve put together your dream team in sales. They are hungry, passionate, coachable, and ready to sell your products and services. How can you now make sure there are no interruptions of the process and that everything remains smooth and efficient? SalesTalk’s suite of sales enablement tools gives you what you need to keep the sales machine operational and to really empower your team to keep selling competently. Our modules like What2Know™, What2Say™, and Coaching4U™ all serve to make your sales efforts more effective and keep your reps confident and competent. Request a demo today and see how SalesTalk Technologies can bring success to your sales team.