Designing a Sales Team

by Mauricio Romero Mauricio Romero | Jan 2, 2019 12:00:00 PM


designing a sales team

Having a successful sales team will depend on the correct design of this department. This design must consider several stages, from hiring your staff to deciding on the technology that you will provide to your team. In this blog, I will mention 6 main aspects to take into account when designing a successful sales team.

1 Characteristics of a successful sales team

There is great controversy about the characteristics that a successful salesperson must have and about the activities that this person carries out that make him display an outstanding performance. Especially when usually only 50% of sellers reach their quota or exceed it.

Normally, all companies have three kinds of salespeople, which can be categorized as in Gauss' Bell Graph:

  1. High-performance salespeople who represent 20% of the team and generate the best sales for the organization. Their sales can even sometimes represent up to 80% of the sales.
  2. The average salespeople who represent 60% of the team and who usually only reach between 60% and 80% of their quota. They represent 20% of the sales of the organization.
  3. Low-performance salespeople who represent 20% of the team and generate less than 10% of sales and seldom exceed 40% of their quota.

What makes the difference between these groups? What are the super powers that high-performance salespeople have? What do they do on a day-to-day basis? How many calls do they make? How many hours do they work? Is it an innate ability or can anyone learn their skills?

All these questions are good and valid when trying to find the characteristics of a successful sellers team. Many studies have been done on this matter but only one correlation has been found that matches the constant variable of the successful salespeople:

The way salespeople handle their sales conversations

We must then look for communication skills when hiring our sales representatives. Along with this, we always recommend the following:

  • The person should be open to directions and to receiving feedback, so he can learn different ways to improve.
  • This person should be curious in terms of wanting to know more about the client and about the ways that he can help this client solve his problems.
  • Be clever enough so that he can soon learn complex concepts and be able to communicate them in a fast and efficient manner.
  • Most of all, he should follow a solid work ethic so that he really looks after the clients needs and not only tries to reach his monthly commissions quota.

Look for those specific characteristics that match your business with your super-sellers and work on the abilities that we just mentioned above.

2 Hiring sales representatives

Once you've defined the characteristics that you want your team to have, you can then go out to the labor market and look for these people. However, the problem arises when we realize that the most successful sellers are not in the labor market, they are already making money for themselves and for the organizations that they work at. Therefore, if you want to hire someone with experience, you have to look for this person and attract him in a more aggressive way. A good headhunter can help us to look for these people in companies, or you can use Linkedin to find this talent yourself.

If you don't want to be so aggressive when hiring people, you can always look for those who have the skills that you are looking for, keeping in mind, of course, that their learning curve might take a little longer.

We recommend that you look for people who have the following: preparation, adaptability, sales experience, intelligence, passion and above all, excellent communication skills.

If you are going to hire a salesperson for the first time, or the first member of your sales team, we recommend not hiring a senior executive. You need someone who knows how to get his "hands dirty" and work hard, especially at the beginning. If, on the contrary, you bring in an excellent sales manager, he will hardly want to spend extra hours doing all the heavy work that is required to be done when just starting.

It's a good a idea to hire senior executives only when you already have several salespeople on the team.

3 Training your sales team

Once you have hired the right person, you must carry out a training plan so that your team can increasingly grow. In order to do this, you should've already defined your sales methodology and a well-defined sales process. In another blog, we talk about sales methodologies, and in this article's n.5, we talk about the sales process.

The training program should help you reinforce your process and methodology. This program should offer a certification based on an test about what the person has learned. It should also focus on developing the skills that are needed on each stage.

As a recommendation, you should always have an active program to improve the conversations held between sellers and clients. After all, we've already seen what makes a high-performance salesman great. Have all your team practice one hour a week. If high performance athletes constantly train, why shouldn't your sales team?

4 Managing your sales team

Managing a sales team is probably one of the most difficult issues, since it depends a lot on how to handle your salespeople's behavior and how to help them improve in those processes at which they are not as efficient.

The most efficient metric to handle behavior is variable remuneration, that is, with a commission program. This topic only would take us a whole book to explain how to do it correctly and ethically, for the development of the staff. Long story short, depending how you reward your teams, it'll be how they and your objectives behave. For example:

If you only want to increase the number of contracts you sign and thus, offer extra commission for X number of contracts per month, there is a risk that, in order to close contracts, your salespeople attract customers who will hire your service but won't continue with their payment plan. Or they may bring clients who don't match your business culture or, even worse, clients who don't really need your product or to whom you really can't help with your solution.

Another way to successfully manage your sales team is by creating a culture where successful sellers share their experiences and sales cases with everyone else. This will help develop communication skills between your team and a better handling of objection. They will also be able to see how exactly did they seek to help the client by offering him a solution that your company offers.

Now you can look for senior executives to manage your team, those who have the leadership and ability needed in order to motivate and share communication with your team.

5 Creating a sales process

Having a sales process is necessary in order to help salespeople focus on activities that will turn into results, focused on the customer. Usually, all sales processes have the following steps:

  1. Prospecting. Find the right prospect in the right place. For example, mass advertising, inbound marketing, promotion, social networks, public relations, personal networking, business networking, etc.
  2. First contact. Start a communication with the prospect and generate interest.
  3. First meeting. Explore with the client if our solution is useful.
  4. Customer evaluation. Evaluate if he are a good customer for the organization.
  5. Proposal. Generate a solution proposal.
  6. Closing the sale. Carry out all activities needed to close the sale, such as contracts, billing etc ...
  7. Delivery of the solution. The organization delivers the product or solution.
  8. Results. The client gets the results -or not. Remember the customer's approach? A good seller will still care about the client at this stage of the process and not forget about him as soon as the deal is closed. This is how we make sure that they really look for clients that match our organization and that will stay around for a long time, that is, they'll buy our service or product again.

All these steps of a process can have more subprocesses that must be evaluated during the design. These subprocesses can be turned into quality standards for your service.

6 Technology for a sales team

There's no need to convince you that technology is changing the way in which all professions get things done more efficiently and differently. In sales, technology took the shape of an automation software called CRM or Customer Relationship Management. The benefits of this kinds of programs is that they help us:

  • Give a better follow-up to sales opportunities
  • Sell faster
  • Create a better experience for the buyer
  • Register the sales representatives activities
  • Save your sales team's time on: writing reports, capturing information and administration of contacts.

If your organization doesn't have this kind of technology, we recommend you get it, since it'll make things easier for your sales team and it'll improve their relationship with your customers.

Learn more about our sales workshops or ask for a consultancy regarding any of the aspects mentioned above.

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