Start building your B2B sales organization by laying a foundation 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.
Before you start or continue hiring, make sure you have these critical things place.
- Sales Strategy
- Lead Generation Process
- Sales Messaging
- Sales Process
- Sales Funnel
- Hiring Criteria
Follow these 6 steps to build a successful sales organization from the ground up.
Step 1. Define Your Sales Strategy
Your vision and your goals are your roadmaps to success, and the more clearly your sales team understands it, the better able they are to embrace it. When you are first starting, you and your team may live the vision, but as you add people, the vision needs to be stated clearly. Be sure everyone on your team understands why your company exists, what you sell and who will buy it, and why that matters to your market. Next, set out clear sales goals and explain 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 hire 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 to support a salesperson? Salespeople don’t magically generate sales. It’s your job to provide a lead generation process that includes criteria for the type of companies most likely to buy. Include size, geography, industry, and other essential criteria that will identify your best targets. A list of companies you want to pursue, and what products you want to sell is a must to keep your team focused. If you don’t have a marketing department, you can outsource, but lead generation is a must. If your new salesperson spends their 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
It is a common misconception that salespeople will know what to say. Often, they don’t. And, if you don’t tell them, they will make it up. Before you hire a sales rep, have a solid understanding of your market position and the message that will attract your target customer. The most powerful tool your team will have is your value proposition. That language is focused on your customer’s problems rather than your products. Have your value prop(s) ready, teach it to your new sales rep and practice it with them before they go out to talk to customers. The better prepared your sales reps are, the quicker the return on your investment, because your new rep will be able to have the kinds of conversations that build relationships and close deals.
Step 4. Outline a Sales Process
The clearer your sales process, the easier it is to follow it. If you have been doing the selling, the path from meeting a prospect to closing the deal may seem obvious. It won’t be to a new sales rep, so document it and teach it to your new sales rep won’t waste time figuring it out for themselves. The process will change over time, so start where you are today. Your company’s sales process works best when it reflects your customer’s buying process. Understand how your target customers buy and map it. Then be sure the process you want salespeople to use matches the way your customer wants to buy. Make it easy for your customers to buy, and you will be able to accurately predict your sales revenue. If you want an accurate forecast, a process is critical.
Step 5. Construct a Sales Funnel
Effectively track sales opportunities as they move through the funnel is the secret to managing sales. 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 deals, the more information and people there are to keep track of, and the longer the sales cycle. Accurately tracking leads 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 Hiring Criteria
Every selling environment requires a different type of salesperson. Understanding your sales environment will help you hire the right people. Now that you are clear on your sales process from targeting your customers to closing, onboarding, retaining and growing, you will have a better idea of whom to hire. Depending on what part of the sales process your salespeople are responsible for, you will know what skills need to be strongest. Every sales rep has strengths and weaknesses. Hire the one that best leverages your company’s strengths and weaknesses.