Running a startup can be a blast, especially once it starts getting some traction.
As a founder or early employee, you probably know the feeling – the idea has been validated, customers are buying, and the business is growing.
But now you need to find a way to keep this growth going for the long run. You need to figure out how to make your sales cycle more consistent. And the best way to do that is to build a sales team to call leads, build relationships, educate prospects, and close deals.
Today, we’ll give you strategies for building and managing a successful sales team for your startup. By investing in your sales process now, you’ll start getting closer to the consistent revenue stream you need to grow your startup into a thriving company.
Building Your Startup Sales Team
Find the Rockstars
A good sales team needs great salespeople. Adding rockstar sales reps will benefit your sales department immensely. Their enthusiasm, passion, and skills will motivate and drive the rest of the team to success.
But you won’t just stumble upon these high performers. And they won’t just apply out of nowhere. You have to go find them. Here are some tips to help you search for great salespeople:
- Ask your team for referrals. This can cut down your recruiting time and give you more pre-qualified candidates.
- Don’t rely on resumes. Look for other qualities, like their personality, mindsets, and abilities.
- Go to networking events. These will help you meet potential rockstar sales employees face-to-face.
- Use LinkedIn. Join relevant sales groups and look for knowledgeable and successful salespeople.
Finding rockstar sales reps will do wonders for your sales team. But you can’t always afford or find them for every open sales position, so it’s vital you have a good hiring process in place.
Fine-tune Your Hiring Process
You can’t expect to hire quality candidates without a good hiring process. Even if you do find some rockstars, they may walk away if your hiring process is flawed.
Here are some recommendations to help you land good talent:
- Pre-screen candidates. Conduct phone interviews before you interview candidates in-person. You can usually tell within a few minutes if you’d consider hiring them.
- Ask good interview questions. Go beyond the cliche questions. Dig deeper to get insights into the candidate’s behavior by asking questions like, “Tell me about a time you hit a sales slump and worked your way through it?” This also shows prospective employees that you take hiring seriously, which reassures them that you’d be a good employer.
- Pay generously. If you want your superstar talent to stay, you have to pay them what they’re worth.
Your hiring process is for you and your prospective sales reps. It acts as a filter for your list and helps convince potential new hires to take a chance with you.
Understand Your Own Growth
It’s important to recognize when you need to add salespeople to your sales team.
Hiring in small batches of two to four people is a great strategy. It promotes friendly competition and builds camaraderie. It also gives you more selling power without having to immediately train and manage too many people. And their performance will provide you with enough data to help you during your next batch of hiring.
Your hiring process is the first step to building a great sales team for your startup. Next is making sure you manage them properly.
Managing Your Startup Sales Team
Keep Your Team Motivated
Sales managers can’t force their sales reps to work hard all the time. Instead, managers need to help reps develop the intrinsic motivation to go above and beyond their set expectations.
Motivating your team is an art form and we have three highly effective sales management techniques to get you started:
- Make everyone accountable. Make your expectations clear and hold every sales rep to the same set of rules.
- Provide useful feedback. Be direct and specific, and provide a clear path forward.
- Give your team the right tools to succeed. Craft effective sales scripts, provide them with good training, and encourage mastery.
Managing different personalities doesn’t have to be difficult, and an inspired team will continue making sales without your constant oversight. Make sure to keep your team motivated if you want them to sustain a high level of output.
Conduct Effective Sales Meetings
Meetings are a great way to develop and grow your sales department, especially for startups. They promote a healthy sales culture and give everyone an opportunity to learn from each other.
Here are some tips for running a smooth and effective sales meeting:
- Discuss challenges and objections. Once patterns start to emerge, determine whether certain bad habits need to be changed. Otherwise, figure out which responses are best for overcoming each objection.
- Share stories. People learn best from hearing real, specific examples of success and failure. It helps them connect the dots and remember important points and lessons.
- Review metrics. Go over the key performance indicators with your team. If they don’t know how they’re performing, they won’t know what’s working. This is how you’ll determine the best methods for closing deals.
- Start and end on time. This will keep your team focused, teach them the value of punctuality, and let them get back to what they do best – sell.
For more on this, check out our article 6 Tips for More Effective Sales Meetings.
Meetings are great for figuring out which strategies are having a positive impact on sales. If you want to be an effective sales manager, conduct efficient sales meetings to start hitting your sales goals.
As a startup, it’s vital that you get your sales team right. It’s important that you start getting better sales numbers quickly because you don’t want to burn through a lot of cash.
If you use the tips outlined above, you’ll find the right people and build a successful sales team that’ll endure for the long run.
We’re curious, what have been your biggest challenges with building or managing a startup sales team? Let us know in the comments below!