Developing a sales team

​Developing a Sales Team

It’s not uncommon to notice a small business owner wearing many hats. Often they serve as their own accountant, human resources person, sales team and more. However, as their business continues to grow, those positions often get filled by someone other than the business owner so he or she can continue to focus on growth. When it comes to a sales team, though, it’s important for you as the owner to know how and when to find the right hire.

How Do You Know When to Start Building a Sales Team?

You’ll know it’s the right time to start building a sales team when you can verify three important factors:

  1. Your product or service is already proving itself in the marketplace. Right now you’re most likely selling your product or service yourself. If you’re receiving positive feedback from prospects and customers, you’re in a better position to start hiring a team to help sell your product or service for you.
  2. You’re unable to keep up with demand. This is a good “problem” to have. Your sales pipeline is looking strong, but you’re unable to keep up with demand on your own. If you had the support, you would be able to sell more.
  3. You have enough pipeline opportunity to afford a salesperson. Analyze whether or not you can sustain your business with enough margin to pay a sales rep. If you can, this is an indication that you most likely should.

Six Steps to Building Your Sales Team

If you’re able to verify the three factors above, you’ve most likely come to the conclusion that it’s the right time for your business to expand and build a sales team. So, what’s next? Now it’s time to start developing a strategy to help build your sales team. Following these steps will help take your business’ sales team to the next level:

  1. What type of sales team does your business need? Determine whether you need inside or outside sales teams (or both). Look at your company’s growth plan and project how many team members it will take to get to scale. What should their background experience look like? Come up with a list of specific traits you’re looking for in a sales team member that will reflect the values and culture of your company.
  2. Determine a repeatable hiring process. While your company is still in its early stages and vulnerable to mistakes, it’s even more important to hire carefully. Using the information that helped you answer the question above, develop a process you can repeat to help determine whether each hire is the right fit. The more you grow, the more this plan will pay off (when you need to outsource recruitment, for example).
  3. Develop a compensation plan. How will you pay your sales team? The more tightly compensation is tied to their performance through a commission or bonus system, the more incentive your team will have to perform at a high level. When your business is in its early growth stages, it can be difficult to find the right pay and incentive level that minimizes your costs and risks while attracting the best talent. Remember that your compensation plan can evolve as the business does.
  4. Plan to train and motivate the team. Learning never ends, so neither should your team’s training. For now, it will be your job to keep them up-to-date and educated to set them up for success. Some ideas for continuous training include call shadowing, learning days and role-playing. To help motivate the team, consider introducing a points system or leaderboard for some healthy competition and performance goals.
  5. Provide “must-have” tools to help your team succeed. It’s important to give your team the right tools to help them work. Is there a specific CRM platform that will help them connect with customers and close sales? Is there a software to help them submit orders? Do they need iPads in the field for collecting information and easy ordering? Make sure your team has everything they need to nurture leads and complete sales efficiently.
  6. Don’t forget to communicate. As your company continues to grow, it’s important to be transparent and constantly communicate with your team. Set weekly status meetings, pick up the phone to chat and allow access to Skype or Google Hangouts so team members can quickly connect. Request regular weekly or monthly reports. If someone is falling behind, you and your team can see it and help pick up the slack (and vice versa). You can never communicate enough.

As your business continues to grow, there are many things to consider. Building a comprehensive hiring strategy for the rest of your organization (not just the sales team) that aligns with your growth strategy is key to the success of your business. If you’re looking for additional resources to help build your plan, start your company or manage it as it grows, check out Incfile. Their expertise and support can help get you moving in the right direction today.

Chris Keller

Chris Keller

Chris Keller is a veteran the in business finance industry. Prior to starting his own business, he managed product lines at two Fortune 500 companies focusing on their Profit & Loss statements.
Chris Keller
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