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Common Mistakes That Hinder Scaling Your Sales Team

Building a sales team is a crucial step for any business looking to scale.

You could divide all founders into one of two categories,  those who can sell and enjoy doing so and those who don’t.

With the pressure’s to keep up with growth goals, make investors happy and capitalise on the momentum you’ve worked so hard to build, many founders rush into building a sales team, without having the right foundation in place.

For founders who can sell, they’ve typically risen to the levels of success they have on the back of their hard work and intuition.  They’ve got a loose process they follow, but they do fly by the seat of their pants. They’ll go off script at a moment’s notice, change what it is they’re selling to suit the prospect they’re in front of and basically do anything they can to get the deal done.

When they start building their sales team, they expect this will just carry over and whoever they hire will be able to do the same things. They can’t.

For founders who can’t sell (or don’t like to) they just want sales to be someone else’s responsibility so they no longer need to worry about it. They’re hoping to hire a team who will come in, hit their sales targets and take total ownership of the sales functions. That’s a dream.

Regardless of your initial motivations for hiring a sales team, without a solid foundation in place you’re likely to end up with the same result…disappointment.

The most common scenario I’ve seen looks something like this: Busy founder needs to scale their sales so they look to hire a salesperson or manager.  Keen to keep up with growth and make their investors happy they interview a couple of good candidates who all speak a solid game.

They do their due diligence, performing the necessary background and reference checks before settling on the right person.  They end up overpaying on the salesperson they chose, but are excited to have this critical role sorted.

New sales person starts with much fanfare only to quickly become overwhelmed by what they’ve just walked into.

  • There’s no clear systems for them to follow
  • There’s no clear sales process
  • There’s no supporting materials
  • There’s no accountability (or the accountability in areas which doesn’t affect sales)
  • There’s no prospects and plans on how to find them

It’s at this point where one of three things happens…

  1. The sales person quickly realizes they’re over their head and resign
  2. The sales person tries really hard, but ultimately fails and you need to move them on, or
  3. The rare occurrence where the sales person figures it all out and succeeds, only now they can hold you hostage because they’ve just become essential for your survival.

None of these scenarios are good for business, are they? You don’t hire a builder to build a house without having a detailed set of plans, do you? If you want to build a house, you start by going to an architect to design the exact house you want.  They’ll then go to an Engineer to tell you exactly how you’re going to build it. After you have the plans in place, you then go about finding the right builder.

This raises a question…Why would you start building your sales team without having all the plans in place to set them up for success?

It’s just not going to deliver you the results you’re after. So let’s talk about what you should do before you begin building a sales team and how you can avoid the common pitfalls.

It doesn’t matter what it is you sell…Sales is a process which can be broken down into a series of simple, repeatable tasks which you can measure, manage and optimize. And if you want to successfully scale your sales, you’ve got to have these things in place BEFORE you begin to hire a sales team.

 A Documented And Comprehensive Sales Process

This process should clearly explain how a prospect moves through your sales process.  Outline the different paths you’re using to generate leads, how you engage in conversations, qualify sales opportunities, create value, overcome objections, close deals and onboard new customers. It needs to be succinct, complete and easily understood by everyone involved in your sales process, otherwise details will fall through the cracks and cost you sales.

A Customer Journey Playbook

You need consistency through everyone involved in the sales process.  A Customer Journey Playbook is where you create all of your scripts, templates, presentations, objection overcomes and supporting documentation. You can use this for training new team members, performance managing your existing team and streamlining the sales process.

A Outreach Plan

You need to have clear expectations for your sales team for how they are going to invest their time.  This is your outreach plan. In here you need to include your expectation for how they’re going to be generation leads and what the daily volumes of outreach they need to do are.  Same goes with every step in your sales process.

When you do hire your sales team, you will be using this plan to measure their performance because it will give you the insights you need to know if they are on track or off track within a few days, not months.

Profit Lever Reporting Framework

When it comes to sales, most businesses only measure the results which is like driving a car only looking in the rear view mirror.  The problem I have with this approach is that by the time you’re looking at the numbers there it’s already occurred and there’s no chance to course correct.

When you adopt The Profit Lever Reporting Framework, you’re identifying the key steps in your sales process and the expected results from each.  For example, you could measure the number of incoming leads and the percentage of which convert into qualified appointments.

If you’re behind in the number of qualified appointments there are two potential root causes, either you’re not generating enough inbound leads or the leads aren’t converting to appointments.  Your Profit Lever Reporting helps you identify which root cause is creating your problem, making it much easier for you to make the necessary changes.

When you carry this over your entire sales process, the compounding effect it has on your overall results is astounding. 

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