The Right Team: Hiring and Training for a Scalable Sales Force
There are many key ingredients to growing a business. You need to have a product or service that meets a demand, outstanding marketing materials and processes, and the knowledge and skills to pivot as the world changes. You also need a trained and experienced sales force. Without a scalable sales force, you’ll be unable to meet customer demand. Too few people and you will be spread so thin customers won’t get the attention they need. Too many sales experts and you’ll have wasted resources.
This means you need a scalable sales team that’s the right size for the job. Let’s take a look at how to build a scalable sales force, what challenges you’ll face in doing so, and how Scaling Sales can help you overcome those challenges.
Hiring for Scalability
When you’re hiring a sales team with scalability in mind, there are some traits you’ll want to look for. You will want sales experts who can adapt to new challenges as needed. For example, when you start out with a fairly small team, those team members are likely going to be in the weeds. They will be dealing directly with potential clients, working to bring them on as customers and handling their needs. As your team grows, though, these original team members may move into supervisor or trainer roles. They will be charged with onboarding your new team because they have the most experience. You want to look for people who can adapt to this role and show strong leadership skills.
In order to reach that point, however, you need a small but proactive sales force that can work together to meet your sales goals. They should demonstrate the sales team traits you’re looking for: a proactive approach to sales, the willingness to collaborate, and dedication to growing your business.
While your hiring process for a scalable sales team isn’t going to be wildly different from hiring for other positions, you do want to assess each candidate for the potential to be more than just a sales expert. Do they have experience in leadership positions? Do they have an interest in being a leader or doing any type of training? What challenges have they faced, and how did they overcome them? Of course, you’ll want to follow up with reference checks for your top candidates. Sometimes, hearing another perspective can highlight sales team traits that the candidates themselves didn’t bring up or weren’t even aware of possessing.
The Role of Company Culture in Scalability
Company culture does play a role in scalability, especially when it comes to hiring individuals who exhibit the traits of a scalable workforce. You want a culture that welcomes creativity and innovation. When employees feel like they can bring up solutions that may be outside the box, they feel like their contributions are valued. These solutions are often the ones that spark growth. While creative solutions are often found in product design and marketing, they certainly have a place in sales, too. Someone may have a great idea on how to redesign your sales pipeline or one of your tools in a way that makes it much more effective.
How can you foster this type of culture? Simply be open to employee ideas and contributions. Encourage team leaders and other supervisors to welcome all ideas, and be open to hearing ideas yourself. Be collaborative and treat every employee with the respect they deserve. It may sound simple, but it’s often the little things that make people feel comfortable at work and enjoy their jobs.
Training for Success
One of the most crucial parts of building your scalable sales team is your onboarding process. This process should be as structured as possible so your new team has a firm foundation under them. Every sales team works a little differently, so while someone may bring years of experience to the table, they may be used to a different sales process. You want to make certain they understand how your process works and why it works the way it does.
Note that this is one of those places where you can welcome input from your new employees. They may have insight into sales processes from other industries or companies that you could incorporate. Just because something has always been done one way doesn’t mean that’s still the best way. On the flip side, of course, just because something is new doesn’t mean it’s better. Listen to ideas but draw on your and your team’s experiences to decide if those ideas will work.
Back to onboarding, your process should incorporate scalability. Discuss how your sales team may grow in the future and what the employee’s role may look like. They should know how you’ve handled growth in the past and how roles changed. Many people are looking for jobs they can hold for years or even retire from. However, jobs and companies do change over time, so do your best to give each new employee a realistic look at what the future holds.
Incorporate Continuing Education
In addition to onboarding, you also want to incorporate ongoing training programs and workshops. Continuing education helps keep your sales team aware of the newest processes and tools. These can be vital in scaling since new technology often makes it possible to grow quickly or in any direction.
In addition to learning from experts outside your company, don’t forget to draw on the experience and expertise your team brings to the table. Peer learning and mentorships are both vital to growth. Employees who have been with your company for years can take on the role of mentors, helping guide the newer team members. Those who come from different backgrounds or industries may have experiences to share that can help everyone. Make sure they have the opportunity to do so.
Evaluating and Adjusting
While building a scalable sales team is step one, the process of remaining scalable never ends. You will always need to assess your sales team, looking at their performance and their needs. Over time, you may come to realize that you haven’t met all of those needs or that new needs have come up that need to be met to boost performance.
Being able to recognize when your team needs to scale up or even down is vital and has a direct impact on your bottom line. When your sales experts are overwhelmed due to the high number of leads, you need to bring more people on board. Otherwise, you risk burnout, which can reduce your team numbers even more.
Creating a sales feedback loop can help with this. In such a loop, the final outcome becomes your new input. This allows you to continually refine a process, a data set, a marketing plan, or anything else. In sales, for example, you can continually refine your sales pipeline, customer retention tools, lead generation resources, and other items by putting them through various feedback loops. With each iteration of the loop, the process, tool, or other item becomes more effective and useful.
Challenges in Scaling a Sales Force and Overcoming Them
Of course, bringing on the right people and building a scalable sales force is more challenging than it sounds. There are a number of obstacles you’ll face. For example, how do you attract the right candidates? Posting job listings may bring you dozens or hundreds of candidates who aren’t the right fit for your business. Having the right hiring processes and knowing what to look for in a candidate will help you sift through all of those resumes. It may be a time-intensive process, but it’s worth it to find the right person for the job. Hiring too quickly or hiring someone because you need a body in a seat often leads to issues later on.
Likewise, cutting someone’s training short so they can get to work right away may seem like a good idea in the short term, but it will have long-term consequences. These employees won’t be as familiar with your processes or understand how your sales team works. They may do things incorrectly or fail to adequately do their jobs. You need to make certain everyone who joins your team is fully trained on their duties before they begin working with clients.
Another challenge comes in the form of knowing when to scale. When is your sales team feeling overwhelmed? Sometimes it’s easy to tell—if you ran a new marketing campaign and suddenly see your leads jump, you know your team may be under more pressure than before. They may need help quickly. On the other hand, if your numbers slowly but steadily rise, it’s more difficult to see when they reach the tipping point. This is why it’s important to encourage your team to speak up and provide feedback. You may not know there’s an issue unless someone brings it to your attention.
Let Scaling Sales Help You Create the Right Team
Business growth is strongly linked to your scalable sales force. If you can’t quickly grow your sales team, you won’t be able to nurture those leads that will help your business grow. If your business grows quickly but your sales team doesn’t, that team will be overwhelmed and will eventually be unable to keep up with the demand, leading to your growth plateauing.
This means you need to take the time to carefully hire sales experts and prepare your team for growth. It does take time—you’re adding additional criteria to your hiring process, one that isn’t always easy to quickly scan a resume for. However, if you hire the wrong people, you’re going to find that your team doesn’t scale quickly or easily. The end result could damage your future growth.
That’s where Scalable Sales comes in. We will work with you to determine the best solutions for the sales issues you’re facing, whether that has to do with hiring, scaling, lead generation, or other factors. Reach out today to discuss how we can help you.