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7 Steps to Building a Sales Team From Scratch

Keerthi Rangan
November 19, 2021
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building a sales team

Most small business entrepreneurs and startup founders know very little about hiring the right sales talent. Business founders would love to believe that their product/solution is why their business succeeds. However, everyone knows that a business doesn’t grow without a fantastic sales team in the mix. Building and managing a winning sales team may seem like a Herculean task, but it’s not 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. Do you need an outbound sales representative to convert prospective leads? Maybe you need an inbound sales representative to deal with all the traffic from your “contact us” webpage.

Different sales approaches require distinctly different competencies and techniques to produce the best outcomes. If you sell online courses or offering clearing services, you may tackle it differently from selling shoes, engagement rings, or cookies.

Decide whom to hire

First of all, determine what kind of individuals you need to hire when building a 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. Do you want a squad of entry-level sales reps, or do you want specialized talent 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 more time selling and following up by 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 marvellous 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 solution architects, 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 your prospects’ goals and pain points 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 organisations use a form of pre-hire skill assessment or a generalised test. Others use applicant screening software to filter resumes. 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’re 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. This tends to lead to unreasonable goals as your business scales.
  • Bottom-Up Approach: The bottom-up approach to sales quotas begins with an approximate idea of what your sales team can achieve. 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 sales 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 an Excel spreadsheet works just fine for founders who have just finished hiring.

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 building a 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.

Author Bio:

Keerthi Rangan is a Content Marketing Strategist at Adaface, which provides conversational assessments for companies to find great engineers.

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