Hiring more salespeople isn’t always synonymous with an increase in sales. And yet, scaling sales teams is paramount to growing a healthy, sustainable business. So how do you scale your sales team quickly, while also ensuring you’ve hired the right people?
The trick is not to hire with your gut, but with a strategic, results-driven approach that will benefit your company for years to come. Not only is this an interesting challenge to take on, but it will transform the way you do business and how you welcome new sales reps to your team from here on.
4 Steps to build a sales team
Building and scaling a successful, well-qualified sales team goes beyond merely posting about your job opening online. You have to have a proper plan (and process) in effect if you hope to make strong hires that are as committed to the company's growth as you are.
1. Establish a clear, concise sales process
Before you begin onboarding any new sales reps, you’ll want to establish a clear, concise sales (and sales enablement) process to help you scale as effectively as possible. Without a detailed process in place, you’ll have no way of tracking or measuring your team’s progress, meaning you’ll be relying on guesswork rather than accurate data to inform your decisions. That’s why you’ll need to create a simple, yet structured process that can be easily repeated and readily understood by every rep.
The major components of a sales process tend to be things like: your most valuable KPIs, lead qualification criteria, the different stages of your sales pipeline, and which activities your salespeople are responsible for throughout these stages. Developing your own unique sales process will then largely influence the way you teach, train and evaluate your growing team.
2. Pivot toward activity-based selling
Prioritizing your sales process gives team members the clarity they need to perform their best and really dig in from day one. With that said, keep in mind that you can never control your team’s results, which is why you shouldn't track raw numbers alone. Rather, you’re smart to make a conscious pivot toward activity-based selling. An activity-based approach focuses on the activities reps need to do to reach their goals, rather than emphasizing the goals themselves.
When you take the pressure off of your sales reps via activity-based selling, you can actually optimize your process and tweak workflows as needed to continually maximize your revenue.
What’s more, having an entire team that’s aligned on the same activities makes it much easier for you to monitor or measure your sales targets (so you can scale up on a shorter timeline).
3. Communicate the value of discovery questions
All too often, eager sales reps share their pitch as quickly as they can, and then cross their fingers that some of their message sticks with the customer. Although well-intentioned, this tactic is unlikely to secure large (or long-term) deals with prospective clients. A terrific alternative, however, is to place value on client discovery throughout the sales process.
When you teach your sales reps about the power of discovery questions – that is, strategic questions that get beneath the surface – they’ll be able to form deeper, lasting connections with their customers. These inquiries may get at things like the customer’s current challenges, or perhaps their big-picture goals for the next five years. The insights gained from these questions will then improve the rep’s skills and knowledge, as well as develop stronger client relationships.
4. Navigate hiring at a slow and steady pace
When you want to scale your sales team quickly, it’s easy to become careless with how you bring in new salespeople. You might subscribe to the mindset that in order to build sales and grow your company, you need to double (or triple) your sales team in one fell swoop. And yet, taking the time to stagger your new hires will ultimately prove more advantageous. After all, it’s called ‘scaling’ your team for a reason, so do your best not to rush through this process.
By navigating hiring at a slow and steady pace, you can give new reps the attention they deserve, and resolve issues with onboarding before everyone has adjusted to their roles. But even though you’re following a sliding scale, don’t be afraid to hire in small batches (two or three employees at once), so you can train these reps together and cut down on your overhead costs.
3 Best practices for scaling sales teams
As a supplement to those four steps for scaling your team, there are also some best practices you can use to scale fast (and well). From hiring reps who are true team players, to making sure your sales activities benefit everyone, these are a few practices you can implement ASAP.
1. Hire sales reps who will operate as team players
Ideally, salespeople should be contributing a lot more to your company than talking with clients and scouring for potential leads – a good rep cares about the bigger picture and is eager to improve upon inefficiencies. During the hiring process, look for applicants who are passionate about their work and who are strongly recommended by their previous employer(s). Additionally, you should seek to hire reps who will consistently show up prepared and who demonstrate company loyalty (i.e. who you can trust to operate as a team player).
2. Be intentional with how (and why) you scale
Scaling your business is centered on increasing revenue at a faster rate than you incur operational costs; in short, scalability is a form of sustainable growth that enhances key performance. And the best way to achieve scalability is not only with repeatable processes, but with informed objectives. This means literally setting an intention prior to scaling that dictates why you’re growing your sales team in the first place. Answering this question will give you a concrete vision moving forward, and help you lay down a stronger implementation strategy.
3. Ensure your sales activities benefit the whole company
While not all of your reps’ daily activities have to relate to sales directly, you need to ensure these activities benefit the company as a whole. In other words, everyone should be working to support the greater system or the individuals who are actively participating in it. Fortunately, this should be a breeze if you’re relying on activity-based selling. When using this sales method, there’s already a baseline understanding that researching business trends and/or organizing team-building exercises still move people in the direction of their end goals.
How to manage multiple teams at scale
Scaling even one fast-growing team can feel a bit overwhelming at times, so there’s no doubt managing multiple teams at scale might seem an impossible feat. But the truth is, overseeing a number of different teams is absolutely achievable with the help of careful planning and strategic tools – and even more so when you leverage a combination of scalable sales processes and supportive apps to guide you in achieving this incredible progress.
And remember, to create a solid foundation for scaling sales teams, you should also prioritize activity-based selling, connect with a trusted CRM program, and conduct regular check-ins with your reps. With all these skills and resources at your disposal, you’ll have greater capacity for making the tough decisions that will carry (and expand) your team well into the future.
Developing sales processes that are scalable
Speaking of developing a scalable sales process, this is without a doubt the most important and influential thing you can do to set your team up for continued success. A thoughtful and well-defined sales process is like a roadmap for the specific activities you need to focus on at every stage of the sales cycle. But while replicating the same process (for a profitable product) works fine for some companies, it definitely doesn’t hold true across the board.
Rather than putting your faith in a static process that can’t be amended or improved upon, you’ll be much better off with a process that’s flexible, scalable and repeatable.
This way, you can take the lead from relevant key performance indicators to make changes and be sure your sales process is revised right alongside your company’s other improvements, too.
Invest in human-to-human sales enablement
When companies are experiencing rapid growth, sales managers often feel the pressure to hit bigger and bigger numbers, which can unfortunately hinder their efforts in sales-based coaching. So instead of placing the burden exclusively on sales managers to handle such tasks, your company is wise to invest in human-to-human sales enablement. Generally, this sort of coaching program gives sales reps support from someone who isn’t under the same stress as their sales manager, and who can interact with them on a more personal level.
Not to mention, human-to-human enablement lifts team morale and equips them with skills they may not have otherwise had access to. For example, reps might be coached on opening sales calls based on client issues or sharing your brand’s story in a compelling way – all of which shows your team that it’s not just about closing the deal, but how you close it that matters.
Mistakes to avoid when scaling sales teams
Scaling your team at the right time can help your company grow exponentially, whereas scaling at the wrong time can have serious, often expensive consequences. As you prepare to expand your sales team, try to avoid these mistakes so you hire who you need (when you need them).
- Hiring from a place of desperation: Before you begin hiring, create a rubric or set of guidelines you can stick to, and don’t offer someone a job you’re not completely sold on. Even if you’re ‘short-staffed’ for a season, a high caliber of hires is sure to pay dividends over time.
- Not providing sufficient training: If you don’t provide comprehensive training for your sales reps, there’s a slim chance they’ll perform at their best. But implementing an in-depth training program that every new hire must complete will establish clear expectations for their role.
- Paying attention to the wrong metrics: When you’re trying to decide if it’s time to hire, be sure you’re paying attention to the right performance indicators. Evaluating the wrong metrics can lead to misinformation or confusion over whether it’s actually appropriate for you to scale.
- Allocating too much time to forecasting: You probably spend a good amount of time forecasting for your business – but is that done to the detriment of your team? Unless you’re dedicating a few hours each week to coaching, your sales reps are likely coming up short.
Scaling your sales team FAQs
What are the best practices for scaling a sales team?
Among the best practices for scaling a sales team are hiring sales reps who will operate as team players, being intentional with how (and why) you scale, and ensuring your sales activities benefit the entire company. If you abide by these three rules of thumb, your business should be in good shape to scale quickly, but also to scale in a practical and profitable fashion.
Sales excellence is a measure of how successful an organization is at closing deals, and how well their team is performing as singular salespeople. Not only is sales excellence an indicator of sales effectiveness, but it demonstrates an understanding of the customer’s needs, as well.
For that reason, sales excellence should always focus on developing relationships, by being aware of how customers think and act and applying that knowledge to increase conversions.
How do I manage multiple teams at scale?
Overseeing multiple teams at scale is absolutely obtainable with the help of careful planning and strategic tools – and even more so when you leverage scalable sales processes and supportive apps to guide you in achieving this incredible progress. With these resources in tow, you’ll have the capacity to make the tough decisions that will carry your team well into the future.
Why is human-to-human sales enablement important?
Rather than placing the burden on sales managers exclusively to handle team coaching, your company is wise to invest in human-to-human sales enablement. Generally speaking, a human-to-human coaching program gives sales reps support from someone who isn’t under the same stress as their sales manager, and who can interact with them on a more personal level.
Interested in learning more about Pitcher? Request your Pitcher demo and experience our sales enablement Super App in action.