3 Pillars to Scale Your Sales
I’ve been in the sales world for over 25 years and along the way I’ve failed. A lot. But, at the end of the day, that failure has ultimately been the roadmap to my success.
I believe there are three things all sales teams must do in order to grow. But, to begin I want to explain why you should hear me out.
I built my first sales team as a college dropout in 1992: Fail.
I built my second sales team in college from 1993-1995: Fail.
I built my third sales team for a magazine in 1997: Fail.
I built my fourth sales team for Telco in 1999: Fail. Big time.
I built my fifth sales team for a publisher in 2003: Success.
I built my sixth sales team for a tech company in 2006: Real success with zero to 40 in one year.
I built seventh sales team for another tech company in 2012: Another success with zero to 120 in one and a half years.
Currently, I am building my eighth sales team for my own company and am succeeding.
As you can see, it took failing many times over to learn what I was doing wrong (and how to fix it). My answers will seem simple on the surface, but the truth is that you must keep to the program and execute to experience sales success. Ignoring your own process will universally lead to failure.
So, here are the three pillars you need to scale sales.
1. Hire right.
2. Onboard, train, and coach for success.
3. Provide the tools (a sales stack example will be used for an explanation).
Too many times we as managers, CEOs or founders focus on just one of the above pillars. At my seventh company, the CEO had the following mantra: Hire “A” players and good things will happen.
I tend to think this is generally true. But, if you hire “A” players and don’t have a plan for the second and third pillars, guess what will happen? Your “A” players will leave, and then you’re left with the second string players. You know what sales leaders search for most frequently on Google to solver their sales failures and inability to hit goals? Training. Guess what? You can’t train the wrong people to do what you want. Training the wrong people will also fail.
You get the picture. So let’s outline the plan that has worked for me:
Pillar 1: Hire right.
The first step is knowing the product you’re selling and who you’re selling to like the back of your hand. You should at least know the following basics.
Are you selling B2B or B2C? What is your deal size? How long and complex is your sales cycle? Who is our target client and what level of authority are you selling to?
You can’t design your hiring plan without having these answers nailed down because they will determine who you need to hire.
Check out this quick example about ABC Company.
ABC Company sells B2B to middle managers in retail with an average deal size of $1,000. The sales cycle is under 30 days and the sales process is simple– ABC Company’s credit card processing equipment saves users 1-2% on each transaction. So, what does all this mean?
ABC Company will want to hire people with previous success in selling B2B. But because of these somewhat transactional, high volume sales to smaller companies, hiring an individual with maybe less experience, but with a ton of energy makes sense.
Additionally, I always want the following traits in a new sales hire:
1. Currently employed and a high performer.
2. Competitive. Look for athletes. Former collegiate athletes are awesome.
3. Optimistic. Sales is tough with lots of ups and downs. The downs can’t paralyze.
Next, you need to create a job description that really communicates what and who you are looking for. The best place to find descriptions worthy of copying are sites like Indeed or ZipRecruiter which include millions of job postings.
After your description is ready, you’ll need a candidate acquisition plan. This should include advertising on sites like the aforementioned, along with niche sites targeting your type of sales reps.
Be sure to source. For simplicity this can work in two ways.
1. LinkedIn: Search for your ideal sales hire. Identify companies that have these types of sales reps and InMail them! Remember that getting great candidates is just like selling– sometimes it’s going to take more than one try.
2. Referrals: Ask your current sales reps if they know people who would be awesome at the position you’re looking to fill. Compensate them. (Pro tip: Send over an email to Rob Lowe at [email protected] Tell him I sent you and he can help with the recruiting process.)
Once you have your candidates you’ll need a step by step hiring process.
1. A quick phone screen with the potential hire.
2. Conduct a long form phone screen and interview.
3. Send the candidate some type of assessment. (Pro tip: Head over to Salesdrive.info. Mention me and you’ll get a discount.)
4. The last step is an in-person interview.
Here are some hiring pipeline guidelines to follow: 60+ applications, 30 phone screens, 10 long form interviews, five assessments, two to three in-person interviews, and then you’re one hire at the end. You then keep repeating this process!
I want to give you one more piece of advice concerning the first pillar to sales success. If you are starting from zero or one, I suggest your first hiring class contains at least three reps. Most likely, one sales rep will fail or turn out to not be a good fit. It is also likely the other two will fit in and quickly be on the track for success.
That is the first pillar of selling. Looking for another post on the second pillar coming soon. In the meantime, happy selling!