How to Scale Sales Teams: Shaping Effective Teams in 2023
Company growth is exciting, and it means something is going right. To make the most of potential opportunities and build on your success, you might need to start scaling your sales team and processes. If this is new for you, it might be a challenge. And if your scaling efforts are underway, it still may be helpful to learn from others' experiences.
Failing to scale at the right time or the right way can lead to missed opportunities. But rushing things without setting clear priorities and metrics for success won't get you the results you want either.
This article will explore seven key elements (and some lessons learned in the trenches) that will help you to scale your sales team successfully.
Build a repeatable sales process
Standardizing sales processes across the board is essential to long-term success and company growth. A typical sales team will be made up of individuals with different strengths. Building a repeatable sales process will allow them to share and follow best practices and create a cohesive sales strategy - and take the guesswork out of selling.
Standardizing repeatable sales processes will ensure sales reps know what is expected of them. As you're onboarding new reps, this repeatable process will help ensure everyone is getting consistent training and selling your product or service the same way. This will help ensure there is no uncertainty for sales reps and everyone is on the same page.
In addition, as these reps start to move through the process, you can collect data and understand what is working and where your sales process might need improvement.
Hire the right people
Recruiting top talent is a priority when scaling a sales team. While it may be tempting to go on a hiring blitz and start getting butts in seats, picking the right people who will help you grow is important. Studies have shown since the pre-pandemic days that tenure in sales roles averaged around 18 months (that's only a year and a half). Attributing these short tenures to things like reps not achieving quota or looking for more lucrative opportunities may be tempting, but that isn't always the case. According to Mike Levy of Titan House, there is another reason why reps moved around more frequently. From his experience interviewing over a thousand sales reps, he's learned,
"Reps were taking jobs without any real insight into what it was like to work at a particular company. And, more importantly, they did a terrible job of interviewing the employer when going through the interview process. The result was a short career stop that didn’t have anything to do with their performance."
So, how do you recruit the right people for your organization and ensure they're going to be a fit? In general, Start by creating a job description that outlines the role, expectations, and qualities required. Taking a generic sales job posting off the internet and changing the company and location won't get you there. Think about your goals, your current team, and the gaps you want to fill. If you write the job description a little aspirationally, that's okay; you're looking for someone with most of the skills and qualities you seek.
This job description and your interview process should also give prospective sales team members insight into what the role and day-to-day will look like. Be honest about expectations, how you communicate, what the sales leadership and team looks like, and what resources will be available to them.
A new hire's core skills can help them hit the ground running. However, it is important to remember that skills can be taught, and experience isn't everything. A great attitude and willingness to be coached and adapt will go a long way in sales.
Shape your team structure
When scaling your sales team successfully, having the right people join your company is only part of the equation. Having them in the right place is also important. So, how do you know the right structure for your organization? It may take some trial and data analysis to determine if people are in the right roles to help you hit your goals and revenue targets.
One place to start is by considering how sales admins and sales supporting roles fit into your growing team. It's fairly well known that sales reps' time may be spent in many ways other than selling and spending time client facing. A survey conducted by Dooly confirmed that 67% of sales reps say that less than half their day is spent selling.
So, when shaping your team, consider the roles (and technology - but more on that later) that can help maximize sales productivity and keep your sales reps focused on spending more time with prospects and customers.
Train your team
Hiring people and telling them to go sell won't get your organization where you want it to go. That's why training and enablement functions are so critical to the success of your growing team. Sales enablement provides the sales team with the assets required to be successful. This might include scripts, battle cards, playbooks, and other materials for the team to use when speaking with prospects and customers across the various stages of your sales process. And speaking of your processes, training, and adoption are much easier when you have a clearly defined and repeatable sales process. Creating and rolling out this process should be a key component of your training program.
These materials and the processes they support are only as powerful if your team understands them and uses them correctly. Training should be a continuous part of your team's focus and not just for the new sales reps. Ongoing training can help team members continue to build their skills. So, as you're thinking about your team and structure, ensure you have enough sales leaders and enablement professionals to support onboarding processes and continual learning to optimize sales performance of your entire team.
Implement a sales tech stack
To avoid sales reps or sales admins wasting their energy on time-consuming tasks that need to be done manually, it's time to invest in a sales tech stack to support your growing team. Creating the right tech stack will help them to complete various processes quickly and consistently.
Streamlined processes will help to move deals through the pipeline, generating revenue more quickly.
The tools in your tech stack will vary depending on your team's needs but generally, some type of customer relationship management (CRM) software, email service provider, business or competitive intelligence software, collaboration, and video conferencing software tools, and a proposal generator.
Qwilr can be a key part of your new and improved tech stack. Our technology makes it easy for you and your team to build sales proposals and tailor them to your company's branding and specifications. And once your reps have their proposals out with customers, they can use the built-in analytics to learn who, when, and how prospects are engaging with the content.
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And what's more, Qwilr integrates with most popular CRMs to help minimize manual and duplicative work.
Identify your goals and milestones
Scaling a sales department requires lots of planning and good foresight. Salespeople aren't mindreaders, so as a leader, it's important to communicate company goals and key milestones to the entire team.
Building a company culture where everyone is aligned to the same mission and vision is powerful and helps ensure everyone is focusing their efforts on the same thing. But, you want to ensure these goals feel challenging but attainable, so breaking bigger goals into smaller milestones can help make things feel achievable.
For example, selling $10 million in products to new customers in one year sounds incredibly daunting. But, if we break this goal down into a quarterly goal ($2.5 Million) and divide the work by 25 account executives, it sounds a lot more manageable.
Measure and adapt
It is essential when scaling sales departments that performance is measured. This will make it easier for the company to adapt and improve its sales process.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are quantifiable measures that evaluate performance. They can be used to measure the performance of an individual, department, or organization as a whole.
Setting and tracking KPIs can be a great way to identify areas in the sales process that are exceeding expectations and those that need more work.
The following are examples of KPIs should be measured to determine the sales organization's performance:
- Daily calls and emails per sales rep
- Monthly sales numbers
- Average leads per month
- Win/loss ratio
- Average deal size
- Percentage of reps meeting targets
The information gathered will help to determine realistic revenue targets. It will also provide a base from which to grow.
How do you scale an enterprise sales team?
Enterprise sales typically involve greater investment and effort from sales teams. This results in larger deals and longer-term contracts. Scaling these teams may take more experienced sales professionals who can hit the ground running and start meeting with prospects quickly to ensure that sales goals are met in a reasonable timeframe.
What are some practical examples of scaling a sales team?
The sales manager of Foodpak, Nick Pike, discussed the importance of structure in how they scaled their operations.
He spoke of creating "pods" of senior and junior account managers that could share workloads. As the company grows, the junior account managers will have the experience to move into more senior roles.
This helps to improve retention and allows staff to develop and train as they go.
How do you define KPIs when scaling a sales team?
When scaling a sales team you want to focus on the metrics that will help you grow your business the most efficiently. These could include the average deal size, length of the sales cycle, number of calls, emails, and proposals, and the ratio of deals that are closed won to closed lost.
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Scale your sales team in a sustainable way
Scaling a sales team to grow your sales organization is challenging and needs to be viewed as a marathon, not a sprint. Getting new hires in place who can help address your target market correctly will bring more revenue into your organization and can help boost customer satisfaction.
Thinking through your sales team's structure and making key hires strategically is a great start. Onboarding these new team members, giving them the training, tools, and technology to succeed, and building a growth culture is what will help them to thrive.
Though it’s tempting to try and track everything, it’s best to focus on foundations first, like monthly sales, average deal size, win rate, and percentage of reps meeting quota.