In a startup business, your first sales team may be one of the most important teams you ever develop. This initial sales team will be the people that take your vision and make it a reality. It is well worth it to spend the time and money ensuring they are equipped for success. Here are are five ways to make your startup sales team more effective.
1. Hire the Right People
In order to ensure that you’re building the right team to help you grow your business, hire people who possess the following traits and characteristics:
- Motivated: Will you be offering uncapped commission to sales people? Vacations? Opportunity for advancement? Stock incentives? Know upfront what your candidate cares about and whether these are things you can use to motivate them. Is this someone who needs a lot of small success or is this someone that works toward big picture goals? Spend some time discussing motivation and find someone that will be highly motivated to succeed.
- Energetic and Persevering: Find someone that works hard to become great and enjoys pushing themselves and other around them to succeed. One way to uncover this is by asking your candidate about their hobbies and interests. Are they someone who seeks out activity and continues to work to become better at their hobby? How do they stay positive in the midst of setbacks? Do they play on team sports where they work together for victory? Find someone who is energetic in life and does not give up when things are difficult.
- Passionate: Especially as a startup company, you want to find employees that believe in your product and will be passionate to sell it and represent you. Ask them truthfully why they were attracted to your business. Is this just a sales job to them or do they have another reason to believe in your company? Ask them what they think makes your company’s product different from what is currently on the market. While specific product knowledge is something you can teach when they are hired, it is important to gauge the employee’s level of interest in your company.
- Teachable: Rather than just asking about what your candidate views to be their strengths and weaknesses, ask what they are currently doing to improve upon those weaknesses. Ask how they learn and what they think you could teach them. Find someone that is willing to honestly admit shortcomings and seek improvement in those areas.
2. Invest In Training / Mentoring
Make sure your sales managers schedule time for regular planning sessions to develop the individual members of your team and keep track of short term/long term sales goals. In these weekly or bi-weekly meetings you can discuss:
- Role Playing and training exercises: Practice really makes perfect. Even the most seasoned sales rep can benefit from role playing various aspects of a sales call and hearing both praise and constructive criticism. Strive to make your team better by encouraging them to practice both with their peers and with management.
- Short term goals: Identify daily, weekly, and monthly benchmarks to help ensure success. Be consistent and work to help your team reach these goals.
- Long term goals: Where does your employee aspire to be? A good mentor not only helps an employee succeed today, but also invests in that employee to see success tomorrow. Spend time knowing your employee’s goals and work alongside to help them achieve these.
3. Give Your Team Access To Helpful Data / Technology / Tools
The days of messy paper sales orders and cold call spreadsheets are gone. Invest in resources that remove barriers to success. Some tools to utilize:
- Centralized territory data: First, make sure you have a written policy in place that clearly outlines territories and lead flow policies. Second, make sure you have an easily-accessible centralized system that contains this information.
- Route optimization tools: Use mapping software to identify territories and prospect/client routes. In sales, time is money, so make sure the data you have collected is optimized so your sales force can be most effective while in the field.
- Online sales orders with e-signature: Create templates that require people input perfect information to complete sales orders. By ensuring your order accuracy, your implementation process will run better and your entire client experience will be better.
- Sales commission tracking software: To ensure commission visibility, utilize a software that gives your employees access to their current sales earnings and how this relates to their sales. Minimize disputes by making your commission brackets clear and simple to understand for your employees.
4. Incentivize Everything
In order to keep a sales team motivated and selling, it is important for them to know not only their commission structure and their quota, but also to have goals beyond quota that will truly impact the company. Take a look at what your company goals are and decide what is worth incentivising further. Then take a look at what motivates your employees and create irresistible rewards for those high achieving employees. Some incentive strategy examples include:
- Create a base commission rate that increases the more you sell. Create urgency for sales reps to reach that higher bracket.
- Create temporary commission increases for certain products you are trying to promote. Create urgency to get those sales in during an allotted time.
- If you have a couple months of the year that sales and quotas typically increase, create additional incentives so there is excitement despite the increased quota. Go big and offer a weekend getaway or stay exciting but small and offer additional paid time off.
5. Be a Strong Leader
Teams rally behind leaders they know and trust. One advantage of a startup company is you as the owner have the chance to personally be a strong and impactful leader to your sales team. Take a look at the characteristics you are looking for in your team and make sure you are modeling them where your team can see them. Do you want your sales team to put in long hours at the office? Make sure you are visible and putting in those same long hours, not leaving early to work at home. Do you want your sales team to share success and motivate others? Make sure you are sharing company success with your employees to motivate them daily. Think over your vision for your team and if you aren’t modeling those same things, start doing them now.
What steps have you taken to make your sales team more effective? Tell us in the comments section below.