Every business doing 7-figures or more often has a killer sales team pulling the strings behind the curtains. The problem is finding, hiring, and retaining A-Player sales reps can be really difficult.
Recruitment is just the first step in building an effective sales team.
So maybe you’ve never hired a sales rep before and would like to find one so you can buy back your time and scale your company. Or perhaps you want to expand your current sales team. Or you’re looking to get more out of an underperforming team.
Whatever category you fall into, you’ll find helpful tips in this article that I use personally.
Before diving in, understand that winning at sales and building world-class sales teams are skills anyone can learn. I did it, so you can too.
What Are The Key Roles in A Sales Team?
Building a superstar sales team starts with understanding what roles you might need to hire for. Of course, the positions you decide to fill depend on factors like the size of your business, your growth plans, and your budget, but it’s still great to have a general idea of what a sales team should look like.
1. Sales Integrator
Think of a Sales Integrator as your sales team’s coach. A Sales Integrator handles typical admin duties such as tracking team performance, ensuring that work gets done and that the sales team is on top of its game.
On top of these duties, the Sales Integrator also offers training and support to the sales reps. They are usually more experienced sales professionals who can provide helpful pointers and feedback to improve the team’s performance.
A closer is the sales team member that closes deals. They typically interact with qualified prospects from the pipeline and sell them your company’s offer either in person or remotely.
Depending on the size of your business, closers may wear multiple hats. For instance, a smaller company may require closers to generate their own leads too.
3. Sales Development Representatives
Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) generate leads via cold methods. They go out (sometimes literally) to find people who would likely be interested in your offer. They sometimes use outbound channels such as cold calling or emailing to scout for cold leads.
4. Appointment Setters
Appointment setters focus on inbound leads who’ve indicated an interest in your offer, whether that’s opting in to watch a free video or filling out an application.
Appointment setters will typically qualify leads on a short intro call, before “setting” them for an appointment with the closer.
5. Client Success Managers
Client Success Managers (CSMs) focus on existing customers. They’re like your back-end sales team. Their role is to drive sales renewals and upsells from your current customers. They also interact with customers to ensure they have all they need to get the best from your offer and achieve the outcome you’ve promised them.
How To Build The Sales Team Your Business Needs To Thrive
These tips cover essential parts of building a world-class sales team, such as hiring, onboarding, training, and management. I’ve personally applied to put together the fantastic group of A-players at closers.io.
1. Validate Your Optimal Selling System
Validating your optimal selling system means discovering the best processes that help you make more sales. Figuring this out is crucial as it gives you a working guideline you can hand to members of your sales team and set them up for success.
Your optimal selling system will typically have two parts:
A. A consistent, repeatable, and scalable way to turn prospects into sales calls.
You can generate leads for your business through six primary methods: owned, earned, word of mouth, paid, affiliate, and outbound channels.
All these could be your source of consistent lead flow. But I’ve found one or two at most to be most effective. And that’s paid and outbound methods.
Master one channel first. Then when you have critical mass, master another channel.
B. A consistent, repeatable and scalable way to turn sales calls into clients.
The second part involves you documenting how you can sustainably close clients. Doing this will require you to first get over the founder syndrome: feeling that “only I can sell my product effectively.”
The reality is there’s a repeatable process for every sale if you pay attention, and you can nail it down and pass it on to your sales team. So you have to consciously create that process and transfer it to your sales reps. That’s how to scale.
It’s easier to do this when you have lead sources figured out because you’ll mostly have the same type of prospect coming from the same place and with the same 2-3 problems.
This way, you can create a reliable sales framework based on insights from your constant interaction with your target audience.
2. Create A Great Hiring offer
The best salespeople on the market will always pick the best offer from a career standpoint. In the end, salespeople are like your customers: they want the best for themselves. So always look at what type of offer you’re putting out there.
Here’s what makes up a great offer:
A. The compensation structure: what earning potential are you offering?
B. The lead flow: quality inbound inflow is more attractive to salespeople.
C. The quality of the company’s offer: How great is your product or service? Top salespeople will naturally be more interested in selling quality offers.
D. Company culture: How good a leader are you? How good are you at communicating your mission, vision, and values and getting people to buy into your company’s dream?
So, you want to be clear on your values and weave them into your story when trying to hire for your sales team. The clearer you are on your values, the better you get at attracting those with the same values and repelling those who don’t. This also helps improve retention.
3. Develop a Badass Hiring Process
If you want the best people, you need to position yourself to get them. This means creating a hiring process that lets you sift through the trash and fish out top sales talent.
Here’s the step-by-step hiring process my team uses and which I recommend you try out.
1. A General Call for Applications
Here’s where you put out the job opening and receive applications from interested candidates. If you attract 100 applications, your chances of finding the right person increase compared to if you only get ten interested candidates. So you want to generate an abundance of applicants. Shoot for visibility and a system that helps you get the word out each time you hire.
2. Video Applications
Once you’ve shortlisted some applicants, ask them to create a video based on a prompt you’ll share. This will give you more insights into who you’re dealing with, and you can further whittle your list down.
3. A Screening Interview
This is where you jump on a call to get to know those who made the cut. It’s like your standard interview.
You can ask candidates questions about their motivation, previous results, and the most they’ve ever made in commissions and revenue.
We like to focus on inputs versus outputs. What books have they read recently? What courses have they invested in? What does their morning routine look like? We’ve found these are much more informative than asking about past work experience.
But if they are transitioning from another job or a different field, you can ask them why and why now?
You also want to figure out what challenges they had in the past and how they handled them.
4. A Skills interview/Mock Triage Call Interview
Here’s where you get candidates to do a quick qualifying call for 15 minutes. Judge their actual sales and interpersonal skills. Watch if they ask for feedback, even if they don’t give it anyway, and see how they take it. Do they get defensive, or do they fish for more feedback?
5. A Scorecard Interview
The candidates have sold themselves; it’s time for you to sell your company to those you want to hire.
I believe the scorecard interview is pretty critical to nailing the right candidate and onboarding them seamlessly.
It involves creating a verbal agreement up front on the position’s outcome, the behaviors required to generate that outcome, the time it would take to do so, and the compensation the team member will get for their performance.
That way, you set expectations from the get-go, and those who feel they aren’t cut out for your demands can pull out early on.
I typically start this interaction by presenting our vision. And then walk through the steps I outlined earlier — from expected outcomes to compensation.
4. Lead With Insights
In the introduction, I mention building a successful sales team involves management and training. To do any of this, you need to create a system that lets you track relevant data and get feedback about your sales team.
Feedback can both be qualitative and quantitative.
People tend to lean towards quantitative data tracking, having an excellent tracking dashboard, monitoring your KPIs, etc. But you can go one step forward and make room for qualitative feedback.
Qualitative feedback will serve as a temperature check of how the team is doing daily. For this, you need daily meetings in the morning and an end-of-day report from your reps. Meetings will help you address issues discovered from the previous day’s report.
The qualitative end-of-day report is where your reps list the calls they had, what happened, what went great, what could be improved, etc. It also requires your team members to rate themselves and provide an overall description of their feelings and where they need help.
These sorts of exercises help you identify where your reps need more coaching.
And when coaching, the how is also as important as the qualitative data. I suggest you adopt a similar framework you use when relating with customers.
This is attempting to take them from their current situation to the desired situation. How will this play out in the context of coaching your team? Your coaching should take your salespeople from their current situation to their desired one.
First, you want to know each member of your sales team, what’s important to them, what their goals are, and nail them down. So when you’re coaching them, you frame your message and conduct yourself in a way that tells them that you want to help them meet their goals and not merely profit from their skills.
This will make your process more effective.
5. Create a Seamless Onboarding Process
New hires need to settle in quickly, familiarize themselves with your processes and get to work. So you should split your onboarding process into general onboarding and role-specific onboarding.
A. General Onboarding
This is what everyone that joins your company goes through. It could involve getting on Slack and learning about the company’s values and product(s).
B. Role-specific onboarding
This is the onboarding sequence designed for a specific role. You want to create a shareable process on what your team member’s day-to-day should look like.
We use a three-part breakdown: the beginning-of-the-day process, middle-of-the-day process, and end-of-the-day process.
Here you orientate people on how to show up for meetings and present their projections. A quick tip: encourage people to set goals and outcomes that stretch them.
This is straightforward for a sales rep. For example, there are two things a sales rep could be up to during work hours: they could either be on calls or be trying to generate calls. So you’ll walk them through all the ways they can generate and handle sales calls during onboarding.
Here’s where you show the new hire how to wrap up their activity for the day and submit an end-of-the-day report. This is important for evaluating your team’s performance and identifying their coaching needs.
That Successful Sales Team Isn’t Going to Build Itself.
One mistake I’ve seen many entrepreneurs make is to believe that they can just lump a couple of sales professionals together, and everything would fall in place on its own. That rarely happens.
Building a sales team you can trust to create results even in your absence requires intentionality, strategic decisions, and structures. If you ever need help setting these foundations then you may consider talking to an entrepreneurship mentor to guide you.
For much of the early days, you’ll be doing most of the heavy lifting yourself; training, performance analysis, one-on-one conversations, the works. But the good news is that the structures you build in those times and your investment in your workforce will ultimately pay dividends.
Soon, team members capable of taking on more responsibility and passing on knowledge will emerge. Certain practices will become part of your company’s culture, and your business will be better for it.