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Building a successful sales team

Tips & Advice - March 5, 2015

When you first embark on your entrepreneurial journey you may be forced to take on multiple responsibilities — a business-oriented one-man band, CEO, marketing director, sales manager and salesperson all in one. As your company expands, however, it becomes necessary to hire specialized personnel to do certain jobs. Sales representatives are usually the first employees a business will recruit, since the more salespeople you have, the more sales you will generate, and the faster an organization will grow.

For a company in the sales industry a dedicated team is a necessity. Here are a few tips to help you create a stellar sales team that exceeds all expectations:

Reach out

It's easy to get into the habit of depending on yourself, as a new business owner, especially if you set out without any partners. You might be confident enough to continue on the same path as you begin to hire a sales team, but it always pays to ask for help. There are individuals in sales and entrepreneurship who have been working a lot longer than you and have gathered invaluable experience over that time. Don't be afraid to reach out and see what they have to say. You may just end up gaining knowledge that helps you accelerate the hiring process.

Research

If you don't have any contacts in the industry, but you still aren't sure where to start, there is always good old-fashioned research to save the day. Sales experts have published numerous books and papers on their processes. Check book retailers for best sellers or online stores for top-reviewed items. Find out if any sales leaders are giving lectures in your area. If you live in a city with a college you may have some luck finding a professor with sales expertise. Never assume that there isn't a way to get the information you are looking for. Buckle down and do your research.

Hire Well

You need a hiring process that gets you the best talent and weeds out any duds. When it comes to salespeople you need to know a few things:

  • Can they sell? This is probably the most important question but it can feel difficult to judge it out of the field. Ask candidates to sell you a random object to test their improvisation skills and how they respond to a challenge. Follow-up by asking them to sell you your company's product, to judge what they understand about the service you provide.
  • Are they coachable? If a person walks through the doors of your office assuming they know everything, you know to avoid them. Coaching and training are a part of any sales teams, and members need to be open to learning and growing. Ask candidates what kind of lessons they learned in previous positions, and what they hope sales can teach them.
  • Are they intuitive? Sales is more about intuition and being able to judge the needs of each specific event, than it is about following a rule book. This can be a difficult characteristic to identify and measure in new hires. Look for subtle clues like candidates who seem to be sticklers for rules.

Use Tools For Team Success 

Even the best salesperson — the kind who can judge what a client is thinking just by looking, and could sell you a dog-eared phonebook if you asked — will not be able to succeed without the best sales tools. Technology can help keep reps effective and efficient wherever their work takes them. Field sales personnel, for example, benefit from inventory tracking software and invoice management apps that allow them to stay up to date and keep customers informed while out in the field. 


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