Any business that has a portfolio of products or services on offer is only as good as its salesforce. In order to attract customers and boost profits, it is well worth investing in not just one sales professional, but a whole team to spread the word far and wide and increase the customer base.
Sales teams for start-ups are especially crucial, as they are starting from scratch with no prior brand loyalty or customer awareness to use as a springboard to secure sales. Everything must be done through the art of expert persuasion and careful negotiation.
Hiring a sales team is made far easier by following a few simple steps and answering a few pertinent questions about what it is you want from a team and how you are going to use their talents once they have been hired. If you hire the wrong person or people, or invest in a sales team at the wrong time, it can lead to costly repercussions. So, read on for some top tips and searching questions to help inform your next sales team outsourcing or hiring strategy.
When to hire a sales team?
No two businesses are identical, so only you will know exactly how your business will respond to bringing in additional salespeople, and at what stage it will need this extra resource. New staff should only be brought in when you are confident that they will have a positive impact on your company, as well as at a time when you can spare enough time to train, brief and support them to ensure they are able to do their job to their full potential.
Look back at your commercial performance in the past weeks and months to spot patterns in activity, online activity and spikes and dips in customer interest. Also, make sure you are hiring at a time when your finances can support the extra sales reps, their salaries and associated costs.
Who will your salespeople be selling to?
Another key area to consider is who exactly your sales team will be targeting. Whether you are running a start-up or an established business, you will need to know who your potential customers are, where they find their information and how their buying choices are influenced.
How do they like to be approached – face to face, via emails or by phone? Do they like to enter into a lengthy conversation or to get the deal sealed with no unnecessary delays? When interviewing a candidate for a potential sales job, find out what their approach is too – you will need to make sure the sales rep and client can talk to each other in a way that fosters mutual understanding.
What do you want a sales team to achieve?
The most obvious and immediate answer is ‘sell my stuff’, but it goes deeper than that. Are you looking to clear stock quickly, or build up repeat custom? Do you want to promote your services to a wider community to present yourself and your business as an industry expert over time, or is it all about helping the customers with their immediate issues?
Again, check your past performance for patterns and flow of sales leads. Do you have any slower times of the year when your sales team will need to focus on changing tactics or go in for a harder sell?
Everyone sales team has to start somewhere
Whether you already have an existing sales account executive on your payroll, or are starting out from a position of no sales support whatsoever, you should start slowly and build up, rather than impulsively hiring too large a team or expecting amazing results too quickly. If you are not experienced in managing a sales team, start with one or two people working at a junior or middle level. Set them clear goals and offer attractive incentives for results.
Spend time with them to help them get to know your products and services well enough to represent them convincingly and persuasively to in the wider world. Encourage friendly competition and reward success. When the load starts to get heavier, or they come to you asking for more support, then you can look at expanding your sales team further.
Who should be in your sales team?
As with any form of recruitment, much of the final decision comes down to gut instinct and whether you feel that the candidate would be a good fit with the rest of your colleagues and overall business. This is crucial whether you are looking for a sales director or sales executive; whether you are hiring someone with extensive experience in sales, marketing or advertising, or a person who will need a fair amount of training on the job.
Look for evidence of past success or, for newer candidates, personality traits that reveal an aptitude for sales – persuasiveness, tenacity, self-confidence and an ability to perform on the spot. Look for a positive attitude and mind-set that allows them to adapt to changing situations. Attract the best people from the start by writing a well put together person profile and attractive, descriptive and honest job description.
Become the sales leader you always wanted
If you have ever worked in sales yourself, or had to have contact with sales manager or team, you will know what a good sales leader looks like and – more importantly – what a bad one does to team morale and business sales results. If you are in a position of leading a sales team, or having a wider oversight of one, spend time thinking how your action as a leader can impact your company’s sales success.
The best way to impress and inspire is to lead by example. Get stuck in to selling yourself. Get to know your business, what it offers and why it is better than the competition. Learn who your customers are and join your sales team in getting to know them and spending time with them. Celebrate people’s successes and offer support and training where necessary.
Use your own networks and social skills to extend your customer base, especially if you are hiring sales teams for start-ups. Finally, make sure you keep yourself aware of industry news and updates and opportunities to promote your business.
Want SalesNet to help you hire your perfect sales team?
If you are interested in outsourcing your sales recruitment, or need help and support in hiring a sales team to meet your requirements, consider working with a professional sales recruitment company such as SalesNet.
Our sales hiring experts can help your business create job profiles, shortlist candidates and advise on recruiting sales staff and developing actionable longer-term strategies.