Building a quota-hitting and driven sales team is no easy feat.
From hiring the right people, onboarding effectively, keeping reps motivated and solidifying the foundation between marketing and sales, there is a lot of blood, sweat and (hopefully no tears) that go into developing a strong inside sales team.
During Season One of our podcast, Sales Leader Spotlight, we spoke with six top sales leaders on topics such as how to stand out in inside sales, developing trust between leadership and the team and leveraging AI automation to scale.
We took some of their best advice on scaling your organizations’ sales team.
“We spend a lot of time focused on the reps, but we sometimes forget that a lot of coaches and managers used to be direct contributors. Now, they’re put into a management position and, actually, that’s a fundamentally different job and they’re often poorly supported. So internally this year, we’ve named it, the year of the coach. We’re spending a lot of time with our coaches helping them be more effective coaches and managers to their reps.”
A poorly supported coach won’t be a very good one, which may reflect onto the sales team. For new managers, making sure they have adequate time to adjust to their new role and are well-supported will translate to a happier, higher-performing team. We do training & onboarding for our reps, therefore, there should also be strong programs in place for managers.
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“When you take your first management position, you should not be agreeing to that promotion or that hire unless they have committed to you a good 30 days for you to really observe and learn. I would say you should not attempt to take over the world in the first week. You need to learn the strengths of your people and you need to embolden them and let them know you’re not coming in to be better than them. You’re coming in to augment the good things that they do and potentially help with the things that they struggle with.”
This quote ties in nicely with the advice from Mark Bergen above. As a new manager, one should be connecting with their sales team on a personal level. Get to know them as people, know their struggles and weaknesses so you can come in with knowledge to make moves — the right way. Yes, you’re coaching a team, but you’re also coaching individuals.
“I think if we’re talking about the topic of social selling to that length we should also talk about social listening. We discussed broadcasting externally and using your tools to reach your customer base and your prospects. I think it’s equally important to use social selling as an internal way to talk about mobility within your organization.
Another thing in particular, with a global organization, many times my managers were based in another country — Canada. So, I did not have easy access to our leadership. Maybe once a quarter I would get some face time with an executive or my manager, which isn’t enough. Everyone knows, if you work out of HQ you have a much better chance of getting promoted. But — If you’re visible over social, you can replicate some of that face time that you don’t get person to person. I think that actually helped me a lot in progressing my role.”
Kelli’s experience is a great example of how she leveraged LinkedIn and social to get noticed within NetSuite. It also demonstrates a lack of communication between her and her managers, which were located across the globe.
If you’re looking to build out a global team, making sure you have a good foundation for internal (and external) communication between employees, will help remote sales teams feel connected and create transparency. Shared knowledge should be exchanged easily from team to team, which is why products like Slack have become mainstream in today’s workforce. Slack can connect people from opposite sides of the world while making them feel united as a team.
“The nice thing about having the BDR team reporting into marketing is it adds in a certain level of accountability for the marketing team. So, the BDR leadership sits around the table with the marketing leadership and, if there are any issues in term with lead volume or lead quality, we get that feedback almost instantly. And then, also, from a marketing team perspective, it makes our metrics so much more concrete because we can actually track that first part of the funnel.”
Sales and marketing alignment has become a cliche term but the truth is, many organizations still can’t figure it out. At Auvik, they uniquely have their BDR’s report into Marketing which means the sales team has access to the content they need to move deals along the pipeline.
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“At the end of the day, I think most of the technology is focused on frequency and not competency. The competency piece, I think, is really, really important. Why? Well, it’s so hard to hire good reps nowadays. It can take three, six, nine, 12 months before you know whether or not they’re any good. If it takes you nine months to figure out if they’re any good, you can’t afford that. It’s not the money that you’re burning on ineffective sales reps, it’s the opportunity cost of not having somebody in the seat that actually can sell.”
Not only is hiring the right people extremely important. But there also needs to be an effective onboarding program in place to ensure your new hire has the knowledge, tools and resources to get ramped up and sell successfully. Hire smart, onboard better.
“Celebrate your wins, but also dig deep into your losses. As a team, we’re very open about the deals that we win, but also the ones that we lose. We’re pretty vocal about those and we’re not afraid to dig in. We share what we may have done wrong, or things that we wish we could have done better, or things that caught us off guard. Ask ourselves, What can I learn from this deal that I can apply to the next one to make sure that it doesn’t happen again?”
Don’t allow the team to bottle up the reason why they may have lost a deal. At SalesLoftthe open and honest communication leads to a safe space for the entire team to learn from others mistakes — not just their own. This type of behaviour will make the sales team stronger as a whole through strong communication.