The Only 3 Steps You Need to Create a Successful Sales Team

Your sales team are a crucial part of your business. Putting in the effort before you even hire your first rep will help ensure smooth sailing, and what you can do to get back on the right track if you come across any kinks in the road.

Think of your sales team like activists for your business. They are out there, telling people why your business is so amazing and closing deals; and sure, they’re making a buck from it too.

However, not all salespeople are cut from the same cloth, and even those successful for one business may not be for another. So, how do you build the right sales team to elevate your business? With our hiring tips, you’ll know how to lay the ground for your sales crew, how to find the right people and how to ensure they have what they need to take your business to the next level.

Team handshake

Before You Hire a Sales Team

Build your framework for success.

The work you put in before you even create an ad to find a single member of your sales team will ensure either its success or failure. We’ve put together some steps you should take before bringing any sales consultants onboard.

  1. Set up support for your team. Your customer service, administration, accounts and servicing departments will all work with your consultants. For your rep to be successful they need to be able to rely on your back-at-base team, who should have the right training in how to support your reps out in the field.
  2. Organise the processes the sales team will follow. How do they process a sale? Do they need to lodge new leads in a database or are they free to manage them on their own? Who looks after the post-sale contract fulfilment? You should have a clear plan of what happens with a sale from the moment they become a prospect to the last moment they interact with your business. Work out how your sales team fit in.
  3. Back the team up with lead generation strategies. It’s hard to walk into a cold room and make it warm. Your marketing and reputation, or lack thereof, can make things easy as pie or difficult as cold porridge for your sales reps. Ensure you have ways to build your brand and for new leads to come in. An appointment setter may be something you look at in the future to ensure enquiries are converting into leads effectively.
  4. Create your sales structure. Every business’s sales structure will be different depending on how you operate. For example, some businesses may allocate a specific rep per area or subject matter (such as type of client or product/service). Work out how you will allocate your reps work and how you will pay them for what they do, including a base package, commission, bonuses, etc.

Man creating a workflow

During Your Hire Process

Target the right people and find the diamond in the rough.

Your sales team can only be as strong as the reps in it. People who are amazing at sales tend to have similar characteristics, which normally adds to their air of influence. When looking for your next rep, keep an eye out for the below traits.

9 things to look for when hiring a sales rep:

Ethics & Honesty — Lying to get a sale will only lead to trouble. People who are eager to learn processes and knowledge are more likely to be ethical, as they’re looking to get the right information for their leads.

Optimism — In a study on optimism in insurance sales held in the 1980s, those who were pessimistic were outsold by their optimistic counterparts by up to 21% in their first year and 57% in their second. Plus, who would buy anything from a negative Nancy?

Ambition — Everyone should know roughly where they want to be in life 1, 2, 3+ years from now. However, knowing where you want to go is an essential trait for any sales person as they have goals they need to ensure they meet their goals to achieve. They do what it takes to get it done.

Passion — Selling is so much easier when you believe in the product or service. Look for people who are passionate about your industry, and if you just so happen to work in an unfortunate industry (sewerage pipes, for instance), caring about people and your business can do this is just as good.

Coachability & Inquisitiveness — Consider anyone who thinks they know all there is to know dangerous, and not in a good way for your business. They’re likely be difficult to give instruction and advice to, which in turn, can lead to rogue reps hurting your reputation. Look for people who are eager to learn and actively do their own research to be the best they can be at what they do, and yet know their work is never done.

Dedication — You can be as motivated as you want, but it won’t get you out of bed on a cold morning. Find out the reason why the person needs to do well in life.

Competitive — A little competition is good for business. Be it an incentive the top reps can receive or even beating their own target for self-satisfaction, it can go a long way for keeping their eye on the prize.

Team Spirit — If your sales structure (see above) works in a team environment with one whole budget and then individual budgets for each person to achieve, you want people to have each other’s backs. Keep your eye out for people who can see the bigger picture (team) as well as the smaller one (themselves).

Awareness — Sometimes what gets a sale over the line is a small detail the rep picks up on. During the interview with someone, bring up something they would have seen on the way to the room you’re holding the meeting. See what they say and how well they observed their surroundings.

Ongoing Management & Coaching

Be the sales motivation and coach you wish you always had.

When you were a startup, you would have done your own sales. There were probably times you wished someone would pat you on the back, offer a shoulder to cry on or give you a few words of advice.

However, sometimes a kind word isn’t what people want. This is where you can apply personality tests (5 Love Languages and 16 Personalities are great) to see how people like to be supported in times of needs and acknowledged for achievements. Keeping the culture alive in your sales teams is one of the most important aspects of maintaining growth.

Here are some great ways to cover your bases and keep up your sales team culture:

Offer incentives: Set target goals for both teams and individuals, with added bonuses, prizes, trips or awards for people who do so. If people are going above and beyond their target, you should find ways to recognise their efforts.

Run regular training: Providing enough training to your reps is so important. They should understand the pros and cons of products and services, how to give rebuttals to raised issues, general processes and what sets you apart. You should also fill them in on laws and regulations around those products so they can be the expert in the room when they meet with clients or customers. Be sure to have tests to see how well they’ve retained information and make note of where they ask for additional help or information.

Hand supporting a tree branch

Provide enough support contact points: Sales teams have a tendency to grow quickly. Like a kindergarten, you should create a limit to how many reps every sales manager can take under their wing. If you need more than one sales manager, have them work as a team for cohesive policies, training, etc. but still maintain close one-on-one relationships with those in their support network.

Take the time to chill out together: Work hard, play hard. After a long week, month or quarter, ensure you celebrate together. Go out for a drink, go for dinner or even hold an annual event where everyone gathers to unwind, catch-up, connect and share their own highs and lows.

The Takeaway

Nurture your sales team like you would a pot plant. Before you buy your plant, you need to choose a spot with good sunlight, buy the right sized pot and fill the pot with good soil. Once you’re ready to go, you need to find the right plant for your environment. Then, you need to water and feed the soil to give your plant what it needs to grow.

When leaves start to turn a little brown, you don’t throw the plant away; you find out what it doesn’t like and what it needs, and provide for it to flourish.

The point is this—your sales team relies on you as much as you rely on them. Work with each other and you’ll both find success.

Cover image source: Ian Schneider on Unsplash

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