A sales team that cannot scale quickly cannot make the most of the opportunities that come their way. Here, CEO at sales software firm sales-i, Paul Black, gives his three key steps for guaranteeing sales team growth.
Whether growth is prompted by an external investment, a new product line, a merger, or moving into a new target market, it’s vital to make sure that you’re in good shape to continue acquiring new customers.
The sales department plays the single most important part in this process. If they’re in good shape, the rest of your business ought to fall into place.
But what can you do if growth threatens to leave your sales team behind? How can your team effectively adjust to new demands and expectations? Most importantly, how do they keep up with the rest of the business?
Here are three essential measures to scale a sales team, designed to maximise consistency, preparedness, and process when the rest of your company is growing.
(1) Recruit, train and motivate
Though salespeople have a few common traits, like persistence, and an eye for opportunity, there’s also a lot of variance.
The top performers in your team won’t necessarily look like the top performers in another company’s team – they’ll have evolved their style and their capabilities to match the setup in your company.
If you require specific qualifications, they’ll invariably have them. If selling in your industry requires specific expertise, they’ll most likely have it.
When your company is growing, it needs to hire more people with a similar profile to your current crop of salespeople. That doesn’t mean everyone needs to be precisely identical, but it does mean that they need to share certain core qualities. If they don’t, you risk upsetting the delicate balance of your team as you grow.
Clients and co-workers alike can detect when someone simply doesn’t fit in, and you’ll be risking your potential profits and the harmony of your team if you consistently bring in the wrong people.
Your best performers should be the template for any new hires. Ideally, this will facilitate a smooth and effective transfer of knowledge and skills. Company culture will remain harmonious, the department’s motivation won’t flag, and revenue will eventually outpace growth.
Where possible, ensure that everyone is trained according to the same principles and are using the same programmes. When a team isn’t singing from the same hymn sheet, it can lead to inconsistent customer experience.
When your sales department can unify behind the company and the department’s core values and methodologies, it will be in a better place for any future growth and expansion.
(2) Implement scalable processes and technology
Scalable businesses require scalable processes and systems. A highly-qualified team should not operate with antiquated tools, or without a common way of working.
For example, if new leads are managed and recorded manually in an Excel spreadsheet, it isn’t a particularly scalable or sustainable process, as the man-hours required to keep it updated are almost certainly better spent elsewhere.
Sales intelligence and CRM software can, for the most part, automate this process, and they can continue doing so as you grow These technologies let you on-board new users easily, and can be customised to add new functionality that suits your users’ and your company’s needs – leaving you and your employees with more time to focus on the things that really matter.
The earlier you implement these processes and this technology, the better. The changing needs of salespeople can be retrofitted to scalable systems, not antiquated ones.
As the company grows, hires, and wins more customers, every team needs to be working as effectively as possible. Be ready to scale a sales team and make the right strategic investments, and provide everything needed to manage and nurture relationships.
(3) Treat all salespeople equally
Finally, while the needs of the team are important, it’s equally important to nurture the needs of the individual.
When employees feel left behind, or like they’re being treated unequally, they never work at their absolute best – but as you grow and keep growing, it’s easy for your business to seem remote and unknowable.
The problem becomes particularly pronounced when certain members of the team are given better leads than others. If employees don’t have the opportunity to shine, they generally won’t.
Ideally, every salesperson you hire will have roughly the same chance to convert the leads they’re given. Handing them to reliable performers is a natural move, but it’s one that could alienate everyone else – and keep them from performing at their absolute best.
And don’t fall into the trap of letting your expectations and targets become muddled. If the team’s leadership – and your leadership – seem distant and opaque, salespeople won’t be effectively motivated.
Growing a business andlearning to scale a sales team at the same time can be difficult. However, in the end it’s effectively a matter of making sure that your core company culture remains intact.
Paul Black is CEO at sales software business sales-i
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