two male coworkers with headsets on laptops
To build a successful sales team, it is essential to have the correct tools and appropriately train your employees. — Getty Images/Hiraman

If you’re planning to set your company up for high growth potential, you’re going to need to hire a strong sales team to help you meet your goals. The success of your sales team can in many ways determine whether or not your business as a whole can be successful, so it’s important to spend time designing and developing your sales organization.

Here are tips that can help you set up your sales team and keep them performing at a high level.

Determine your needs and ideal structure

Before you begin hiring for your sales team, you should sort out your specific needs and how you want to structure your team. What are the biggest things you are trying to accomplish right now and what types of people will help you get there? Once you have that in mind, what type of sales structure do you want to build?

“Factors like the types of products or services offered by your organization and the growth curve of your company affect the roles, skill sets, and number of people you must hire,” Robert Izquierdo writes in The Blueprint. “For instance, inside sales teams are popular among small businesses because they are a lower cost than field sales. But if your clients require on-site handholding and guidance, or your product is best showcased with a demo that’s hard to deliver over the phone, perhaps a field sales team makes more sense.”

Hire salespeople with tasks in mind

With your sales team structure defined, now begins the hiring process. Positions you may need to fill include inside and outside sales representatives, sales managers, sales engineers and account managers. As you go about hiring for these roles, think hard about the tasks you need completed versus what you imagine defines an ideal person for a certain role.

“The first step in smart hiring and productivity is understanding the relevant sales tasks in your market and strategy and then reflecting those tasks in hiring criteria and a disciplined hiring process,” Frank V. Cespedes and Daniel Weinfurter wrote in the Harvard Business Review.

Equip your team with the right tools

With many sales teams moving from in-person to remote roles, the ideal tools and software for teams are changing as well. These sales tools will likely include:

  • Customer management software
  • Marketing automation software
  • Video conferencing apps
  • Scheduling applications
  • E-commerce software

While older notions of the sales process may have encouraged salespeople to compete with each other, newer models encourage salespeople to effectively compete together.

Set goals and meet them

When your sales team and tools are set, work with your employees to establish goals that the company should be meeting on a quarterly and annual basis. Goal setting ensures there is always something to be striving for. On top of company goals, you should encourage sales members to develop their own personal goals too.

“In the second week of January, my team always does a two-hour personal and professional goal-setting workshop,” Adam Weber, co-founder and CPO of Emplify, writes. “The bonding that takes place in this vulnerable session creates a closer team and they all hold each other accountable throughout the year. … Don’t let your reps stop at generic goals like revenue and salaries. Go a layer deeper to get at things like ‘save a down payment for a house’ or ‘take the kids to Disney.’”

Promote collaboration, not competition

While older notions of the sales process may have encouraged salespeople to compete with each other, newer models encourage salespeople to effectively compete together. Fiercely competitive team members may create toxic work relationships while collaborative relationships can push forward company goals while maintaining strong teams.

“Some sales teams compete against each other and others alongside one another,” Tracy Avin, vice president of business development at MBL Benefits Consulting, told Forbes. “I believe in bringing a team together who can support each other's efforts and share leads, building a stronger, further-reaching force. Share best and worst practices to learn from each other's experience in the trenches. Remember an opportunity is not lost unless the prospect goes out of business or is acquired.”

Align your sales and marketing operations

While sales teams don’t always work side-by-side with marketing employees, it’s smart to get them collaborating. Sales teams can request assets from marketing that can help them be successful and marketing may in turn want to make changes to strategy based on real-world insights from sales.

“When they’re aligned, sales teams see 38% higher win rates, and marketing teams see a 200% increase in marketing-generated revenue,” John Hall, co-founder of Calendar, writes. “These are huge wins in themselves — but what’s especially valuable is the fact that both teams can do less work to earn those wins. Sales reps benefit from the right content because it does much of their jobs for them. If a prospect has a question about your company’s solution, sales can send a blog post or case study that goes into detail.”

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published September 29, 2020