It's difficult to quantify the value of having a great sales team because the positive effects stretch far beyond simply closing deals.
Your salespeople can shape your customer relationships from the beginning of their experience with your brand through the life of their time with your products or services. In fact, the sales experience is the #1 influencer when it comes to customer loyalty.
And while a generic sales experience is not a good thing, nowadays it's easier than ever to create great, customized relationships with your prospects and customers.
Since your sales team is made up of living, breathing human beings, it's also no surprise that companies that invest in training for their teams get 50% more net sales per employee.
In this article, we'll cover several ways a sales team can shape your company's growth - and how you can shape a great sales team!
Benefits of Hiring a Sales Team
Hiring a sales team is one of the most direct ways to grow your revenue. A dedicated sales team can take a lot of pressure off of a founder who is stuck doing all the selling themself and instead get back to leading their company while the team focuses on generating new leads and closing deals.
Sales can also improve customer acquisition and customer satisfaction by having the team solely focused on building relationships with potential customers. A great sales experience is often the first step in excellent customer service.
Key Characteristics of Successful Sales Reps
When you're looking to hire sales reps who are likely to succeed, keep an eye out for several key characteristics and skills. First and foremost, they must have strong communication skills, both verbal and written, which enable them to effectively communicate with potential customers and close deals. They also need to be resilient and able to handle rejection and setbacks without losing motivation. And, of course, successful sales reps have a results-oriented mindset and are driven by achieving targets and exceeding expectations.
Attracting and Hiring Top Sales Talent
Make no mistake about it, attracting top sales talent is no joke. This is a highly competitive field with highly competitive people, so it's important to be intentional when it comes to your recruiting.
This starts by identifying exactly what your revenue target is, what your team needs to look like, and how much everyone needs to be paid. You can use our Sales Compensation Model to help figure this out.
Creating an Effective Sales Job Description
Once you have your team modeled out, it's time to start putting the word out that you're hiring for sales roles. The best way to do that is with a strong job description. This isn't rocket science, but it absolutely is essential to put your best foot forward with a job posting that describes each role in a clear, detailed, and attractive manner. This is a simple step that so many companies overlook - and it's a quick way to lose potentially strong candidates for your sales positions.
An effective sales job description starts with a clear sales hiring profile, or an "ideal candidate profile". This is where you outline the traits and characteristics you're looking for. By starting with this, you're more likely to stay focused when it's time to hire, instead of being swayed by different attractive profiles. Perfect sales hires might not exist, technically, but you'll come close if you create a strong Ideal Candidate Profile.
The job description itself should clearly outline the responsibilities of the role, including prospecting, lead generation, and closing deals. It should also specify the qualifications and desired experience, such as a proven track record in sales and knowledge of the industry. And, of course, it should highlight the benefits and opportunities of working for your company, such as competitive compensation and growth potential. Remember, you're competing for top talent that often have opportunities lined up elsewhere. Why should they pick you?
If you'd like to grab our job description templates, you can find them here.
Interviewing Sales Rep Candidates
When it comes to interviewing sales rep candidates, remember that you're speaking to professional salespeople - in other words, they're probably pretty good at selling themselves. This means that you have to be extra careful to see through the charm and charisma in order to objectively decide if a sales candidate is truly the best fit for the role.
We use a process called SPARC to separate the best candidates from everyone else. Of course, you need to have good interview questions - but the SPARC framework will give you a strong analytical tool for your decision-making.
While you're evaluating candidates, it's a good idea to use behavioral-based questions to assess their past performance and how they handle different sales situations. You'll also want to assess cultural fit to ensure they align with your company's values and work well with the existing team - after all, there is a reason we call it a sales team! Many sales managers like to use role plays or mock sales scenarios can help evaluate their sales skills and techniques.
Best Practices for Interviewing Sales Rep Candidates
To conduct effective interviews with sales rep candidates, it's important to prepare a set of structured questions that assess their sales experience, skills, and mindset. Asking for specific examples of their past achievements and challenges can provide valuable insights into their capabilities.
You don't have to hire experienced people, but it certainly helps increase the likelihood of success, especially for AEs and more senior salespeople. If they have experience selling into your market and/or selling a similar product/service at a similar price point, they likely already speak your customer's language and are more likely to hit the ground running.
Developing a Sales Compensation Plan
Make no mistake, you need a well-designed sales compensation plan that covers all the bases for the different roles in your sales organization. This is not only crucial for attracting, motivating, and incentivizing your sales team - it's also a key element of your overall profitability, growth, and business strategy. After all, that's why we're doing all this in the first place, right?
Your sales compensation model should align with your business goals and provide clear and achievable targets. Incredibly, 91% of sales teams miss quota. And while there are multiple reasons why this happens, one part comes down to setting realistic targets and an appropriate mix of base salary, commission, and bonuses to reward performance.
Lastly, remember that your sales compensation plan is a model - this means it's something that you can (and should) return to regularly, reviewing and adjusting things based on performance data and market trends.
Building a High-Performing Sales Team
So far, we've focused on the "team" element of your hiring goals. But that doesn't mean it isn't important to set clear goals and expectations for each team member. The secret behind a high-performing team is happy, motivated, engaged salespeople.
You can create this energy by providing ongoing training and coaching to help develop your individual reps' skills and keep them updated on industry trends. That's the dream, isn't it? A team generating fantastic revenue, powered by talented, energetic salespeople who enjoy what they do and do it well!
Utilizing Job Boards for Sales Hiring
Earlier, we mentioned the need to attract top talent with strong job descriptions. So, it's no surprise that you should be making use of relevant job boards. A strong job description coupled with a good job board can yield a lot of qualified applications.
But, as with job descriptions, you can't afford to get lazy when it comes to your job board. Don't just sign up, throw up a bare-bones profile, post the job, and call it a day. Most job boards are like advanced databases or even social platforms. That means you need to put thought into optimizing your job postings by using targeted keywords that sales professionals are likely to search for. The better you use the platform, the better the platform will perform for you.
Lastly, remember to showcase your company culture, values, and what you'd be like to work with! Is the team remote with flexible hours? Do you have an incredible office? Is there some X factor your people love?
A few of my favorite job boards include the ones on BuiltIn, LinkedIn, Y Combinator, and Wellfound. Each one of these is a great place to hire sales representatives, account executives, and other sales people.
Strategies for Attracting Top Sales Talent
Let's dig a little deeper into the ways you can go above and beyond to attract top sales talent.
You're expected to have competitive compensation, career training and development, and some nice perks and benefits. Great, but that's where you should be starting from - not your final goal.
Why should sales reps join the team?
Well, let's get creative.
How about hearing from some of your current salespeople? If you already have a great team with a strong culture, you might consider recording a quick hype reel or individual videos by some of your people talking about their work experiences.
Also, remember that salespeople know other salespeople. You might be sitting on a referral goldmine in the form of your current people!
Are there specific skills or training programs you can point people to? What results have come out of these programs? In a competitive space where "everyone" claims to develop their people, can you be specific and talk about measurable outcomes?
Additionally, if you already have a high-performance team, that is an attractive element in and of itself. In a performance-based culture, it makes a lot of sense to join a winning team. You're more likely to hit quota, get paid handsomely, and not have to worry about losing your job.
And what if you don't have any of that with your current team? Well, you can start by outlining clear goals. Where are you going? Why should someone join you? Why should they buy in? It all comes down to being able to clearly articulate your vision for the company, the sales organization, and the individual role.
Ready to Hire a Sales Team?
It's no surprise that we believe hiring a top-notch sales team is crucial for the growth and success of your business. A strong sales team can help accelerate sales operations, provide transparency in the sales process, and create a system for scaling your startup.
Make sure to grab our job description templates, sales compensation model, SPARC interview framework, and the sales hiring process we use.