Stop! Before you spend $100,000 or more on a salesperson, set them up for success.
When you are building a house, before you do anything else, you put the infrastructure in place and lay the foundation. A solid foundation ensures a stable structure. The same is true when you build a sales organization. Think about what needs to be in place to build a stable organization that will support sustained growth.
Your first sales rep will cost you over $100,000 in the first year. That is a significant investment. One that is easy to make if they are going to bring in 10 X that in sales. But what if they don’t? Not only have you spent money on a salesperson, but you have also wasted precious time and possibly damaged your market position.
To ensure success, before you hire that first sales rep, make sure everything they need to be successful is in place. Below are 6 steps you need to take to build a successful sales organization from the ground up.
- Define Your Sales Strategy
- Create a Lead Generation Process
- Craft Sales Messaging
- Outline a Sales Process
- Construct a Sales Funnel
- Determine the Hiring Criteria
6 Steps to Build a Successful Sales Organization
Step 1: Define Your Sales Strategy
Everyone on your team must understand your vision for the company and its goals. When you are small it’s easier, but don’t overlook this. Be sure everyone on your team understands why your company exists, why that matters to your market, what you sell and who will buy it. Then they need to understand the sales goals and how you will hit them. When you are the only one selling it may not seem necessary to explain, but you are laying the foundation to hiring your first salesperson and probably many more after that.
Step 2: Create a Lead Generation Process
How do you generate leads now? Will that lead flow be sufficient when you hire a salesperson? Salespeople don’t magically generate sales. It’s your job to provide a lead generation process that includes criteria for what type of companies will be most likely to buy. Including size, geography, industry and other important criteria that will target who you sell to. Provide a list of companies you want to pursue, and what products you want to sell. If you don’t have a marketing department, you can do it yourself or outsource, but lead generation is a must. If your new salesperson has to spend time researching and building a list from scratch it will be a long time before you get a return on your investment. The better marketing can support sales in the lead generation process, the better results you will get.
Step 3: Craft Sales Messaging
We think that salespeople will know what to say. Well, they don’t. And, if you don’t tell them, they will make it up. Before you hire a sales rep you should have a solid understanding of your market position and the message that will attract your target customer. That message is your value proposition, and that message is focused on your customer’s problems rather than your products. You will have that message ready so you can teach it to your new sales rep and practice it before you send the rep out to talk to customers. This way, you can get a quicker return on your investment because your new rep will be prepared to have the kinds of conversations that build relationships and close deals.
Step 4: Outline a Sales Process
Your sales process must be clear and documented so others can follow it. It may seem to you the path from meeting a prospect to closing the deal is obvious if you have been doing the selling. Document it so you can teach it. Your new sales rep should not be left alone to figure it out. The process may change, but you need to start somewhere. Your company’s sales process should reflect your customer’s buying process. How do your target customers buy? Map that out and then be sure the process you want a salesperson to use is a match. Make it easy for your customers to buy and you will be able to better predict your sales revenue. If you want an accurate forecast, process is critical.
Step 5: Construct a Sales Funnel
You need a way to effectively track sales opportunities. You may have a CRM, that builds a pipeline or funnel report, but that may not be effective. Set your CRM up to mirror your sales process and provide reports that help salespeople effectively pursue leads without missing anything. The more complex your sale, the more information and people there are to keep track of, and the longer the sales cycle. Tracking properly becomes critical. As the sales leader, your sales funnel is your lifeline. At any moment in time, you need to have clarity about what will close and when. Your funnel should provide this clarity if you manage it properly.
Step 6: Determine the Hiring Criteria
Before you hire, you will write out the type of salesperson you are looking for and exactly what you expect them to do. If you aren’t clear on your sales process from targeting your customers to closing, onboarding, retaining and growing, you won’t know who to hire. Which part of the sales process do you expect the salesperson to do? All of it? The prospecting only? Do you need someone to manage and grow your existing customers? Once you map out your sales process and determine what parts the salesperson will need to do, you will know what skills and experience you need to hire.
Want to know more? Join me for this FREE webinar, How to Build a Sales Organization from the Ground Up on Wednesday, December 5th @ 11 AM Pacific! Register NOW! Or give me a call and let’s talk about how to build your sales organization.
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