7 Components of Building a Killer Sales Team

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You’ve invested an enormous amount of work, effort, passion and money into starting, building and launching your business. The market research is done, you have validated that your service or product is quality, and you’ve validated that there is a sufficient need within your selected marketspace. The question now becomes, how are you going to market to sell your product? It’s an exciting time and with the right sales team in place, your new product/service could be the next big thing.

The trick here is increasing sales cost-effectively to grow your organization in a sustainable and profitable manner. To meet or exceed your sales goal and growth targets, you need to build a high-performing sales team and also structure it so you can scale up quickly to support your growth. Sounds easy right? If it was there would be higher than 1% success rate for new companies. There are thousands of businesses that fail every year because they can’t sell their product effectively and efficiently.

With the job market the way it is today building a successful sales team involves more than simply posting a position on Indeed for an experienced sales rep. Successful companies also need to their sales team up for success by providing them with the right sales tools, creating measurable KPIs, coaching for growth, and motivating them to reach your desired sales quotas.

With all that said, here’s 7 components of building a killer sales team

1. What type of sales person do you need?

The type of sales professionals you need on your team depends on your sales process model, the nature of your products or services, the ideal customer persona, your growth trajectory and your target market(s).

You need to consider whether you need outside sales, inside sales, field sales or both. You need to know if your sales process is complex or simple. Does the target audience communicate more by phone, email, social or SMS? Identify the kind of background and experience required, and determine the number of sales reps you need to scale up. Planning these things in advance allows for performance DNA to be clearly identified for your recruitment efforts. Lastly, what is the budget on pay. You need to reverse engineer a cost model based on anticipated sales volumes and the required marginal contribution. Remember this, Sales is the most important aspect of your business. There are no customers without sales. So, if your plan is to pay peanuts…expect monkeys.

Once you have determined what type of sales personnel you will need to assemble, it is time to start hiring them.

2. Guts & Science hiring for success

Your initial hires will most likely become the backbone of your sales efforts. Don’t get cheap here. The first team in may cost you a bit more but remember you are asking them to do more than you think. You’re asking them to launch a product/service, validate a sales model, and drive early revenue. Pay them to do it! Later hires will be walking into an established environment so you can then right fit to budget better.

Build a very clear ideal salesperson persona (ISP). Create that profile so recruiting can right fit the required DNA and experience. It needs to be a real high percentage match. Exceptional Sales people can close up to 40% of opportunities in the pipeline, compared to low-performing rep who close less than 12%. As you are interviewing and hiring your new sales professionals, it is important to know what you are looking for in a successful salesperson. Leveraging hiring technology like Predictive Index can assist in firming up the right person for the right role. You must use a mix of gut and science in your decision-making process.

Successful sales talent possesses the intelligence to think outside of the box and give thoughtful responses in conversations. They’re coachable, curious, humble and willing to learn from others. They must have a competitive streak that drives them to work hard and consistently achieve results.

Creating a sales team with diverse backgrounds can improve your capability to pursue different opportunities. Hire for gender diversity, cultural diversity and experience diversity to bring in a broader perspective and open up new markets. Think of this if your building a sports team. Everyone plays the same game but they don’t have play the same position the same way.

3. Design a stellar sales process

A sales process is a set of repeatable steps that a sales person takes to take a prospective buyer from the early stage of awareness to a closed sale. Typically, a sales process consists of 5-7 steps: Prospecting, Preparation, Approach, Presentation, objection handling, Closing, and Follow-up. There must be a sales process in place that is measurable and efficient.

Once you have the right talent the process drives the machine. To scale up your sales operation, make sure your sales reps are delivering a consistent customer experience. They will do this by following an optimized sales process so they can achieve repeatable outcomes.

Your sales funnel will continue to improve over time, but it is best to design and map out this process in the beginning. While a good sales executive can wing it through a single presentation, having a scalable and successful sales funnel requires a documented and repeatable sales process for your whole team to follow. You need to be able to see where bottlenecks are, breakage is taking place, and opportunities for coaching rest.

4. Training & Motivation built for sales people

Measure twice and cut once! A repeatable and scalable process is paramount to making sure that everyone shares the same “base line” so your team can deliver a predictable and consistent sales experience. Invest in preparation via training because bad habits are hard to break and repetition creates retention!

The manner in which people learn has dramatically changed. By 2024 75% of the workforce with be millennials. They don’t learn like GENXers. They’ve grown up on instant info and constant resources. Sitting them in a training class room, virtual or not, for hours a day with a PowerPoint presentation won’t work. create your training programs through the eyes of your new hires. Training is an investment that sets the stage for launch and production. The goal should be to have sales people exiting training fired up, prepped up and hyped up to go execute your sales plan.

Gamification might be an option to motivate your team. There’s a ton of great new software on the market to assist with this. These will tap into many sales reps’ competitive instincts. For example, you can encourage team members to adopt new sales tools or drive specific results through sales contests. The KEY, understand what motivate your team. It may be different than you think.

You also need to have a compensation system that ties performance to commission and bonuses to incentivize sales reps. This will allow you to balance cost and risk while attracting the top sales talent. Simple tip, pay your sales people well. It’s the only department that pays for itself.

5. KPIs that matter

By establishing the right key performance indicators (KPIs) and clearly communicating sales goals to your team, you can get everyone aligned with the company’s long-term vision while empowering them to take initiatives that will drive meaningful results. A warning here. Looking at activity is great, but measuring what actually drives revenue is better. Don’t bog your sales team down with silly activity metrics. Have them focused on the main metrics that impact business revenue and their own personal revenue. Keep it stupid simple.

A few KPIs you should measure are sales growth, sales target, customer acquisition cost, customer lifetime value, customer churn rate, lead-to-opportunity ratio, opportunity-to-close ratio, conversion rate and profit margin per sales rep.

Also, use sales dashboards and set up a reporting system so you can extract actionable insights from the metrics and make accurate data-driven decisions to fine-tune your sales process as you grow.

6. Pick a winner in sales tools

In today’s sales world automation and digitalization can allow you to scale quickly and efficiently. Use these to your advantage by tapping into the vast amount of customer information you have at your disposal. Effectively using the right sales tools will allow sales reps to make data-driven decisions, and increase your ROI.

Selecting the best sales tool for you is a job in and of itself. There are numerous good ones on the market but you need to find one that matches your DNA. Also, dig in deep on implementation costs, timelines, and configuration capabilities. Although monsters in the industry like Salesforce have been deemed top of the line, they are extremely expensive and difficult to implement. It will impact your timeline and potentially effectiveness early on. If you are a smaller company with limited tech resources I would highly recommend not going with them first. Find something that is optimal for you now. You have to invest in the right sales software applications in sales intelligence, sales enablement, sales engagement, analytics and management/coaching. This will allow your sales team to streamline workflow and increase sales productivity.

7. Communication tech and talent is king

Most of today’s sales activities are conducted over the phone. You will need a robust Omni-Channel approach like NobelBiz for your team. These tools will enable you to access the best-in-class communication tools as you grow. It’s an investment but again, you are investing in the team that will grow your revenue.

If all that is too much for you, and that’s okay if it is, you could consider outsourcing the entire sales department for buildout and production to a company. A cloud-based call center platform and virtual talent model allows you to use a remote sales team and tap into a larger talent pool while lowering operating costs. It allows you to do what you do best and leverage an expert in other areas. It also shortens time to competency and your overall time to profitability.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Eric: thank you for this post. Companies cannot build a decent sales team without the ability to attract strong talent in the first place.

    One confusion I encounter frequently: companies think candidate pools are saturated with productive, talented sales reps – men and women who are “out there,” just waiting to get hired. That is a dangerous illusion, because top-tier salespeople are exceedingly rare, and they are just as discerning about the companies they work for as companies are in selecting their employees. In fact, if you’re looking for “A Players”, the competition to hire them has never been more intense. And if a top rep mistakenly joins a company that doesn’t work out, they won’t stick around long. They already know there’s a better opportunity somewhere else.

    I advise my clients that they should not expect to build an effective sales force without making their company and the selling opportunity very attractive. That includes having a compelling story about your

    1) business strategy and its future
    2) reputation – both corporate reputation and the reputations of its senior executives
    3) leadership ethics and customer-centered selling strategy
    4) compensation plan – start ups must be particularly aggressive in making the upside potential attractive
    5) track record of strategic and tactical success inception-to-date

    If you want sales talent, these are table-stakes for start-ups. Otherwise, look for a ‘diamond in the rough’ who you can work with. Just be prepared for some ups and downs.

  2. Andrew, so very true! You are correct in my opinion. Finding great sales people isn’t easy. Too many companies set out looking for a ten and come home with a two. One reason might be that they fail to realized they themselves aren’t a 10 in the moment. They may be better served to take the time to sharpen up their game and appearance to attract those 10s. Then ensure that they are doing the things necessary to keep that 10. It’s an investment in the company’s success. Taking the time to ensure you have everything in place to “right-fit” the talent is of the utmost importance because as you said, they aren’t easy to find. Cheers!

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