6 tips for building a sales team
Growth is the goal of any business – and to grow, you have to hire the right people, in the right order, with both the technical skills and soft skills that your company needs. On top of that, you have to build teams that work and learn how to combine different personalities into effective, efficient groups.
Building a sales team introduces new considerations. It requires a mindset that’s like building a sports team: You need very specific skills and traits, plus that “extra something” that gives the best salespeople their drive and will to succeed. Yet you also need someone who works well in your sales team and within your company culture. You need to learn how to build a sales team that’s driven, passionate and skilled.
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The importance of building a sales team
Learning how to build a sales team requires much more than hiring a bunch of superstars and putting them on the phones. That can work in the short-term, but you want sustainable growth. You want to set and achieve long-term goals. You want to build a culture of superstars that attracts the best talent in the industry.
Building a sales team that works well together has a very real impact on your bottom line, from improving employee retention to creating a culture of innovation that propels you toward growth. The best sales teams do much more than sell. They’ll push the status quo, provide valuable feedback straight from the customer and help you improve your product or service. That’s the type of sales team you want.
What makes a successful sales team?
Whether you’re a new sales manager looking to improve an existing team or are making the transition to a work from home model and need to know how to build a remote sales team, the traits remain the same. A successful sales team will have:
- Complementary personalities. All salespeople are not the same – they bring different personalities and traits to the table. New hires must fill gaps that are left by those leaving, or the team will become unbalanced.
- Trust and respect. Trust in the workplace directly affects productivity and innovation. When employees feel they can trust each other, they’re more willing to push the envelope.
- Passion. This is the great intangible trait that is so important in sales teams.
- Great leadership. A business is only as strong as the psychology of its leader, and that’s especially true of sales teams. Model success for your team and they will follow.
How to build a sales team
Great leadership and an empowered mindset will go far to help you get the most out of your sales team. But sales, revenue and growth always go back to properly preparing for building a sales team.
1. Establish a hiring process
If you’re not using the same scoreboard for every candidate, the game isn’t fair. The first key to building a sales team is to establish a set hiring process that treats every candidate the same. Ask insightful questions that will tell you about more than just their sales results: Are they coachable? Are they self-starters? Can they improvise? Use a scorecard to rate important traits and grade their answers. This way, you can be sure you’re being objective and rational in your hiring decisions.
2. Know your existing team
Adding onto an existing team? To know how to build a sales team, you have to know what you already have. Talk to your current team and write down their strengths and weaknesses. Have them take a test like the DISC Assessment, which analyzes dominant personality traits, or ask them the same questions from your interview scorecard. Then make a list of traits that are missing in your current team and hire to fill those gaps.
3. Look for traits that matter
To fill the gaps in your current team and to interview effectively, you need to know which traits are actually important in a sales team. In such a competitive area, passion, work ethic and determination are essential. Coachability and adaptability are also important – no one likes a know-it-all. Hard skills such as familiarity with software are becoming more in-demand as sales is increasingly driven by data. But don’t forget soft skills like communication, writing and speaking. Sales is ultimately about making a connection.
4. Communicate well
Building a sales team is also about your own leadership skills. You can find the perfect salespeople on paper, but if you don’t take the time to communicate your company vision and what makes your company talkably different, your salespeople won’t be able to sell. You must also clearly define your goals for your sales team and provide them with performance reviews. No one can achieve if they don’t know what they’re working toward or how they are doing.
5. Give them the right tools
Thanks to automation and artificial intelligence, sales teams are powered by more customer data than ever before. Sales engagement, data analytics, coaching and enablement platforms help your team make better decisions and increase their ROI. Proper onboarding is vital for these programs and for your processes in general, especially when learning how to build a remote sales team. Onboarding is your chance to set a foundation of skills and expectations that will launch your team to success.
6. Offer sales coaching
Another important consideration for how to build a remote sales team is how you will provide sales coaching that would typically be done in person. There are coaching programs that allow you to analyze calls remotely or provide live feedback, and that can automatically signal upsell opportunities. Lunchtime training sessions or “lunch and learns” from senior salespeople are helpful and provide opportunities for fun as well.
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