Most early small business entrepreneurs and startup founders know very little about sales and hiring the right talent for their businesses. Business founders want to believe that their product/solution is why their business runs, but everybody knows that companies do not propel forward without a fantastic sales team.
Building and managing a winning sales team may seem like a Herculean task, but it does not mean that it is impossible.
Then how do you recruit a sales team from scratch when you know nothing about sales? Here are 7 steps to help you onboard the best talent through your venture's multiple growth phases.
Determine your sales approach
Determining your sales approach is the first step. Deciding if you need an outbound sales representative to convert prospective leads or an inbound sales representative to deal with all the traffic from your "contact us" webpage?
Each of these approaches and positions requires a different set of competencies and techniques to produce the best outcomes. If you sell online courses, you may tackle it differently than when you'd be selling shoes or cookies, engagement rings, or offering clearing services.
Decide whom to hire
First of all, determine what kind of individuals you need to hire for your sales team. This includes understanding and categorizing the different skill sets, attitudes, and experiences and the different types of sales positions that would benefit your business. That is, do you want to stick with a squad of entry-level sales reps, or do you want specialized talents in your sales team?
If you insist on keeping a lean staff, try to hire candidates who are comfortable wearing a range of hats. Thus, rather than aiming to fill executive positions in the sales team, you should try to recruit someone who can close leads, create standout business proposals, and is comfortable adopting various functions depending on the situation.
Which roles should you hire first?
In most situations, as the workforce grows, there are four significant sales positions businesses hire for: internal sales representatives, sales development representatives, account executives, and sales engineers.
- Internal Sales Representatives: Internal sales reps are the nucleus of the in-house sales machine and are likely responsible for the bulk of your sales. Instead of meeting prospective leads in person, they spend the majority of their time selling and following up by digital methods such as a phone and email. If you're an early-stage business, your first sales hire should be an internal sales rep.
- Sales Development Representatives: The key role of a Sales Development Rep (SDR) is to identify and generate qualified leads based on the company's ideal customer profile. They spend an immense amount of time cold emailing and cold calling to schedule meetings and demos. A marvelous SDR guarantees a steady supply of leads for inside sales reps.
- Sales Engineer: Engineer cum sales representative, a sales engineer understands your product or service's technological complexities and knows how to sell it. Also known as a solution architect, they offer personalized demos to qualified leads that illustrate how to approach particular problems.
- Account Executive: Account executives are in charge of handling current accounts and spend time researching the goals and pain points of your prospect to come up with deals specific to each client. Account executives also negotiate contracts and find opportunities for sales development.
Use candidate-friendly assessments to assess skills
Most organizations use some type of a pre-hire skill assessment or a generalized test that screens applicants relative to a benchmark of what is expected as excellence. Using an assessment test, such as a fluid intelligence test will help you assess applicants for the qualities and competencies that guarantee your organization's performance.
Pre-recorded video interviews allow you to screen through a large volume of applicants to identify the right candidate for your sales team.
A competitive compensation
There has been much speculation regarding the best salary model for a sales team, but a study has shown that the sales team members are even more involved when they are paid for their continued success through incentives and bonuses. Stick to this tried-and-tested method when setting up a salary for your sales team.
Including this information in your job ad can be submitted quickly via an ATS.
Set up your sales quotas
The sales quota is a crucial financial target that the individual or the team needs to achieve by a specific period of time, typically one month. It's essential as the founder to set targets as quota attainment results typically in a performance bonus. There are two ways to approach this.
- Top-Down Approach: Businesses using the top-down sales quota strategy start by setting high-level targets for the duration and then develop quotas to help them meet the objective. The issue with this strategy is that sales quotas begin to rise as the overall deal size increases, leading to unreasonable goals as your business scales.
- Bottom-Up Approach: The bottom-up approach to sales quotas begins with an idea of what the sales reps are capable of doing. Sometimes, the resulting quotas are more motivating, balanced, and practical than those developed with the top-down approach. The bottom-up approach is the best one to choose if you are building a team from scratch.
Identify measurable metrics
You have to establish measurable metrics and KPIs that are easily understood by your entire sales team. This helps to keep every individual on the team accountable for their targets. Founders can start with a daily and weekly summary of the team's sales stats. When your business expands, you can automate these KPIs, but for founders who have just finished hiring, an Excel spreadsheet works just fine.
This step is non-negotiable, whether you have outsourced your sales team or have it all in-house.
Use essential tools for your team
There are a couple of essential tools a sales team needs to work in perfect harmony.
- A project management tool, such as Trello.
- A collaborative CRM to keep all the data in one place.
- A communication platform, such as Slack.
- Any popular cloud storage tool for easy access to all files.
- An analytics tool to manage and track important metrics.
Keeping an open mind
The foundation for the growth of your company is to be ensured when hiring a winning sales team. You want flexible and self-motivated individuals to fuel development and create your brand credibility as you get started. Ensure that your hiring process provides a positive candidate experience to build an employer brand.
Following these steps will ease the process of recruiting a sales team.
Keerthi Rangan is a Content Marketing Strategist at Adaface, which provides conversational assessments for companies to find great engineers.