3 October 2022
All of us, even those who are not familiar with the business world, understand that the company’s profit depends directly on the efficiency of the sales team. At first glance, it seems simple: just hire employees, explain their functions, pay their salaries on time and enjoy the development of the company.
However, the difference between an ordinary sales department and an effective system is like a musket and a machine gun: the principle is the same, but the firepower is completely different. Building a high performing sales team is a painstaking and sometimes arduous task that requires a great deal of specific knowledge and skills from management.
According to statistics, 71% of executives believe that increasing the productivity of their sales teams is the key to growing their business.
The effectiveness of the sales department is determined by its profitability and the efficiency of its employees, i.e. how much effort and time sales managers spend on closing a deal.
To create a sales system in your company, you need to follow several principles at once:
- Analyze costs and revenues at every stage of the deal.
- Make sure the system is scalable and generates profit.
Even if you have a perfect marketing department that knows all the nuances and intricacies of digital promotion, you won’t outrank your competitors and beat the market if your sales team is far from being digital.
How do you build a high-performance sales team from your first employee to a finely tuned machine that’s up and running? Here’s a step-by-step guide:
Step 1: Create a sales plan
There are several approaches in the business world about a plan for the sales team. Some don’t use planning at all, limiting themselves to monitoring employee hours and the number of calls they make. Others set goals based on subjective feelings about managers’ capabilities. What you actually need is to try planning based on real numbers.
How to forecast sales
It is impossible to accurately predict sales – there are too many factors to consider. Therefore, any planning in this area is only possible on a hypothetical level – adjust your plan when you get new data and performance estimates.
One of the starting points for sales forecasting is the number of leads the sales team can generate and process. By leveraging modern digital and SAAS solutions for online prospecting and generating lists of qualified leads, you can plan the activities of sales managers at an early stage.
Step 2: Consider the organizational structure
Making a plan will determine how many sales managers you need to achieve the norm. If you’re not planning to micromanage, think of hiring senior managers as well. On average you will need a supervisor or senior salesperson for every 5-10 salespeople.
The organizational structure can be stepped, with an supervisor and subordinate levels. Or you can have several teams to the sales department that would compete with each other – perhaps in your case this approach would be more effective.
Step 3: Build a sales funnel for employees
Formalize the processes in the sales department. Structure the manager’s actions – from the “lead generation” and “first contact” stages to the “deal closing” stage. Depending on the business sectorial activity, the funnel may be of different lengths.
This structuring will help you understand how to analyze the work of your employees and allow you to see the problematic stages where most of your potential customers end up.
Step 4: Increase motivation. Carrot and stick
KPI should be introduced after the sales processes have been clearly formalized. Otherwise, employees won’t understand how to fulfil the plan and reach the desired level of income.
When creating KPI for the sales department, you should not focus on micro activities such as “how many minutes late you are”. It’s more effective to set a system of multiple indicators. For employees, choose indicators from the sales funnel that they can directly influence. For the team as a whole, select those that depend on the work of the team, e.g. revenue.
Step 5: Implement a Sales pipeline management system
A B2B prospecting tool could be key to your company, enhancing your sales rep capabilities and productivity. When starting work on a client, a salesperson marks each stage of the from-lead-to-deal route.
With all data being timely collected, the supervisor can evaluate the situation in the company at any moment.
There are professional B2B platforms that integrate tools for online prospecting, lead generation and sales pipeline management, all in one, so to cover all phases and facilitate the sales reps to adopt them, such as EasyBusiness Sales Accelerator.
A modern sales pipeline management system offers hundreds of types of reports. There are three key reports you can use to figure out how to launch an effective sales force and keep things under control:
- Once a day, analyze the number of employee actions within the sales funnel. This will help you keep track of which managers are doing their best and which are just sitting around. With a certain set of data, you can make corrections to the KPI – for example, if you realize that an average salesperson can make 10 calls a day rather than 5.
- Once a week, assess how far managers have been able to move customers through the sales funnel closer to the deal. Examine the conversion rate of calls into meetings, meetings into presentations and contracts. Your job is to find bottlenecks in this funnel and fix the problems.
- A monthly report will help with sales estimation – it’s long enough to collect data on the number of new customers, average check and amount of revenue.
Implementing a sales pipeline management tool and report review practice will help develop the sales team and keep your employees on track.
Step 6: Figure out what’s getting in the way of sales
If the sales department you’ve built is not working effectively enough, check for problems on this list:
- The plan doesn’t match reality – this is the case with the subjective method of planning. At this point, it is worth modifying the plan based on the average performance of the professionals.
- Difficulties with management – check whether sales managers are provided with the right resources, whether they are not burdened with additional duties so that they do not have time to sell.
- Lack of motivation and competencies – there may be a problem with staff selection or the climate of the organization itself. Talk to the staff, check if they want to work, if they are happy with the conditions.
Step 7: Set up a hiring process
When you’re building your sales team, it’s important to set up an ongoing hiring process at the same time. An influx of new employees into the company is not only useful in terms of scaling the business:
- It’s a healthy competition. “Old-timers” don’t lose motivation or relax when they see newcomers, who tend to prove themselves and work more energetically in the first few months.
- Extra motivation. Continuous staff expansion means growth opportunities, because with the influx of new people you also need supervisors, who become experienced professionals.
Instructions on how to build a sales team from scratch rarely talk about scaling up, although this is the process that helps people grow. Build the economics of the business so that it can continually grow.
Step 8: Create a training system
When building up a sales team, it’s important to consider not only analytics and the overall organizational system, but also set up ongoing training. Develop grades for employees – it’s important for people to see what knowledge they need to have in order to get promoted.
It has been reported that it takes 10 months to fully train a successful sales manager.
Provide access to training materials, conduct training sessions and invite professionals to seminars. Motivate employees to attend relevant conferences. These will all combine to help the department grow:
- Employees will feel stable because the business is investing in their development.
- Staff effectiveness goes hand in hand with skills.
- When professionals speak positively about their company in private conversations and public speeches, brand loyalty grows, and a PR effect is created.
Step 9: Create checklists for effectiveness
In addition to motivating your staff, consider monitoring your employees. Based on analytics and your sales plan, develop checklists for employees and supervisors.
For salespersons, it can be the number of leads, calls, alerts, meetings held. For supervisors – the number of audits, total department revenue, staff turnover and employee growth by competency level.
There are no universal checklists, so create them based on the actions that are important for the effectiveness of your business.
Scale up your department further
Once your sales team is built, begin to develop it. There doesn’t have to be just one team in the company structure – create several parallel departments. Divide them according to the company’s product types or make a competitive atmosphere altogether. Experiment with the system, analyse performance and adjust the plan.
An effective sales team is the flagship of your business. Its timely digitalization will take to the next level not only your sales but your company as a whole. Contact us for a consultation and we will tell you which digital solutions can help optimize your sales team.