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Salespeople. At their best, rock stars of the business world, and at the worst… racking up some sizeable some do-not-call lists. A gold-star sales team can be the difference between a struggling start-up and a unicorn.
And just one bad sales person can be the demise of another altogether.
Think of a bad sales rep you’ve dealt with in the past month—whether it’s a major company or the barista at your neighborhood coffee shop. If you had a bad experience with them, you’re probably not excited to return to their business, are you?
No matter what industry you’re a part of, you can guarantee that that’s a reality of your business: bad sales people are bad for business.
So don’t you wish the good ones were a little easier to come by? Well as it turns out, finding—or better yet, creating—a top-shelf sales organization doesn’t have to be like finding a needle in a haystack, and it’s certainly not something that’s just reserved for the billion-dollar behemoths of your industry.
Here at Hoopla, we’re passionate about what makes a sales organization perform at its absolute best. So now we’ve put together just a few of the key steps that, no matter what industry you’re in, can help you build the sales team of your dreams.
Here’s how to get started:
It goes without saying that not all sales organizations are created equal. For your SaaS company, it might make the most sense just to have an inside sales team, whereas for some tangible products or complex sales packages, you may need field sales agents who can be more hands-on with potential customers.
Start by assessing what sort of sales team will best fit the immediate needs of your organization. Take a look at how competitors operate—are they doing it in a way that could work for you? Find a model that fits with your company’s strategy and needs, then you can actually start building that team.
Once you’ve determined what sort of a team you need, then there’s the question of whether you need to have an in-house team of salespeople, or if you can rely more heavily on remote sales employees.
On the one hand, remote employees can give you the benefit of offering flexible hours and commuting benefits, while also saving on office space. But an in-house team can also be a huge value add when it comes to team building. But we’ll cover more of that a little later on.
For a deeper dive on the benefits of remote vs. in-house, be sure to check out our ultimate guide to remote workers.
When it comes down to it, there’s no easier way to recruit top talent than to offer top-tier compensation packages. But for a newer organization that’s just starting to grow its revenue stream, that sort of capital isn’t always immediately available.
If you’re struggling to stay competitive, remember that there are plenty of other non-monetary benefits that you can offer to employees that will go a long way—whether it’s an “unlimited PTO” package or the ability to telecommute, remember that there are other areas where you can negotiate beyond just throwing cold hard cash on an offer.
Hiring top sales talent is at once an art and a science—and a process that can be both daunting and exhausting. So when it comes to matters of recruitment and hiring, now is not the time for shooting from the hip. Develop a process that works for you, and becomes something that you can continue to repeat as you find success with it. It could be building a relationship with a local business school, working with a specific talent recruiter, or holding in-house events that attract the sales talent you want to having working for you.
Don’t be afraid to be scientific about it. And once you hit oil, don’t be afraid to keep tapping that well.
As Mile Zivcovik points out over on the Hundred5 blog, not only does recruiting, hiring and onboarding a new employee cost tens of thousands of dollars, but it can also drain nearly 40% of that managers’ time. That’s a lot of time, effort and money to spend on the potentially wrong candidate.
So you want to ensure that once you’ve completed the hiring process, you’re setting your new salesperson up for the most success possible. That means investing in training that’s going to help them perform in this specific sales role the best that they can.
And as much as it’s a tough process for you, it’s also a major investment for your employee. And so it’s important that you’re giving that person the space and confidence to really take ownership of their role.
“As long as employees are performing at or above a satisfactory level,” says Trellis’ Jared Shaner, “they should be granted the autonomy to own their role and treat it as their own business.” In that regard, you begin to raise up partners in your organization, not just drones punching a clock.
Writing for the Harvard Business Review, USC Sales Strategy professor Steve W. Martin outlines exactly what it means for a managers who want the best sales teams possible to be communicative: “
The best sales organizations have strong leaders who exercise control, monitor team performance, and establish internal processes that all team members must abide by.”
If you want to have an excellent sales team, you need to create a culture of excellence for your team to live up to. That means setting goals for the overall organization and individual sales contributors, that they can then be held accountable by.
Finally, if you truly want to have a great, long-lasting sales organization, it’s important that you don’t just spend all your time and energy on bringing people in—but rather, you invest time and attention on keeping them there. Employee engagement is one of the single most critical factors in keeping an engaged, top-performing sales organization. If they don’t believe in the work they’re doing, don’t feel valued, and don’t have a vision for their role within the organization, how can you expect them to stay through those inevitable difficult periods?
Having a world-class sales team doesn’t have to be a pipe dream, no matter how big or small your organization is. If you’re willing to do the work and put in the investment—and keep investing in that team every day, you’ll certainly reap what you’ve sown.
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