How to Hire a Stellar Sales Team to Accelerate Your Recovery

This is a Guest blog post by sales and sales management expert Chris Tully.

 

 

How to Hire a Stellar Sales Team to Accelerate Your Recovery 

If there is a silver lining to the pandemic-related economic shut down, it is that a lot of excellent salespeople are now available and hungry to contribute to your business. The opportunity here is to rehire your best performers and then build a stronger team than before.

To hire a stellar sales team to accelerate your recovery, you need a plan. Here are some things to consider that will help you create an excellent hiring plan.

 

1. Are your business goals different than before the shut down? 

In the past few months, you’ve had time to really think about your company. You may have revised your strategic business plan and reprioritized your goals. If so, take a look at your new focus and figure out, “what sort of sales power will get me there?”

As an exercise, picture your previous sales team. Imagine how they would – or would not – achieve your new goals, and what sort of salespeople you need going forward.

 

2. Are you clear about the sales role?

What is it that you really want your ideal salesperson to do day to day, and accomplish overall? What specific skills would that person need? Most importantly, be clear about the personal attributes of the ideal person to represent your business.

3. Are you willing to invest in a professional recruiter? 

Sure, LinkedIn JobsIndeed, and other free job posts or low-cost ads will get responses. But you and your HR people will spend an inordinate amount of time sifting through a lot of junk to get to the few gems. Unless you’re adding entry-level people, don’t cheap out – invest in a professional recruiter, particularly if you’re looking for experienced sales professionals with a proven track record.

Talent recruiters screen against your hiring profile, verifycandidates’ work history, and validate their self-stated strengths and accomplishments. Recruiters also help you find employed candidates who are not looking for a job but who may be perfect for your business.

 

4. Do you have your sales incentive structure worked out?

Although it isn’t a jobseeker’s market right now, people are still going to ask how they get paid. That’s completely reasonable. As the job market strengthens, candidates who know their worth are going to hold out for appropriate compensation. In addition to your hiring plan, you’re going to need an incentive plan to attract and retain the caliber of salespeople you expect.

 

5. What third-party tool are you using to assess candidates?

Third-party assessment tools are a must with hiring decisions. Let’s face it – salespeople are often chameleons. They are trained to probe for needs, listen actively, and position their products (themselves, in this case) in the best possible light to solve your problem.

You need some objectivity to balance those impressions, especially if you don’t hire that many people each year. There has been a lot written about the cost of a bad hire, which I won’t repeat here. Get some help!

These are three salesperson assessment tools that I recommend: 

6. Do you have an effective on-boarding process?

It’s important to have a well thought-out plan to get new sales hires acclimated to their role in your company. For that, you need to a road map that new hires can follow (as well as trainers) so nobody gets lost.

 

7. Can you “hire slow”?

This last question is a trick one: the answer has to be “Yes.” You’ll want to take your time and think about the answers to all of the questions I’ve laid out, in order to hire superb salespeople. It’ll be so worth the time and effort when the right team propels you to reach – and exceed – your goals.

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Tully is Founder of SALES GROWTH ADVISORS. He can be reached at (571) 329-4343 and ctully@salesxceleration.com

“For more than 25 years, I’ve led sales organizations in public and private technology companies, with teams as large as 400 people, and significant revenue responsibility.
I founded Sales Growth Advisors to help mid-market CEOs execute proven strategies to accelerate their top line revenue. I have a great appreciation for how hard it is to start and grow a business, and it is gratifying to me to do what I am ‘best at’ to help companies grow faster and more effectively.
Let’s get acquainted. I am certain I can offer you an experienced perspective to help you with your growth strategy.”

7 Things to Do to Be an Effective Sales Leader Now

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This is a Guest blog post from Chris Tully.
7 Things to Do to Be an Effective
Sales Leader Now

 

Learning to adjust your sales leadership practices to fit these unusual times may not be an easy correction. You probably have been honing your system for years; pivoting to these extraordinary circumstances is hard for even the most limber.

My advice is to focus your attention on the definition of “Leader” as supporting your sales team, and you’ll be heading in the right direction.

To get you started, here are 7 things you can do to be an effective sales leader right now.

1. Concentrate on client retention

Client retention trumps new business acquisition. I wrote about this extensively last month and it’s worth emphasizing again: Dramatically increase client communications to strengthen your personal and professional relationships.

Additionally, ask clients what assistance they need from you or what introductions you can make to help them retain their business.

2. Take care of your commissioned sales representatives

Close dates have been pushed back, and some opportunities have been cancelled entirely. Salespeople working on commission are worried right now – it would be remarkable if you weren’t hearing this from your team. So, consider what you can do to offer them some relief:

  • Consider reducing/suspending quotas for Q2 2020 and possibly Q3
  • Consider a commission floor, if it makes sense for your business
  • Reinforce their importance to your business, and give them the confidence that you’ll take care of them as best you can
Strengthening your sales team’s trust in you and your company will pay dividends in the long run.

 

3. Focus on internal communications and team dynamics

With communications 100% virtual, shift to deliberately communicating with team members.

  • Have a one-on-one with your direct reports every day or every other day.
  • Hold an all-team meeting every week
  • Get your CEO to give regular business updates, and make some of those “town hall” meetings where team members can ask questions
  • Enable “skip level” meetings to increase company transparency
  • Get these meetings on the calendar – on the same day each week, at the same time, with a set agenda and defined start/stop time.

If this seems like a lot, it’s really not. Calculate all the time you used to spend commuting to work and external meetings, and consider this “found” time well spent in building a stronger team.

4. Invest in collaborative tools

You’re encouraging your team to work together as well as with you, so invest in tools that make it easy for them. Slack and its competitors allow quick back-and-forth information exchange and easy real-time collaboration.

Use video conferencing as well as the presentation tools in your Zoom, GoToMeeting, or other account – it’s important to see your people, and it’s scientifically proven that face-to-face communication is the most effective.

Take advantage of the extra time you have to work on nagging process issues. Ask team members to help you identify cross-functional issues they’ve encountered pre- and post-distancing, and involve them in identifying, discussing, and solving those issues.

5. Plan for coming out of this current crisis

This is the time to make your plans and set (realistic) goals for Q3, Q4, and 2021 – even though we don’t exactly know what the new normal will look like. The more you can engage your team in planning for the future, the more invested in that future they’ll be.

6. Closely examine pipelines and sales opportunities

Sales pipelines and opportunities are not as robust as they were two months ago. If this crisis has taught us anything it’s this – while you can’t control the outcome you can absolutely control your mindset and your level of activity.

Dig into your sales pipeline. Pay extra attention to fully qualifying each deal. Are all the decision makers and influencers engaged? Are they bought into your value proposition? Is the economic ROI associated with investing in your solution crystal clear to them? Is the close date real?

Control what you can: increase your calls and emails to current and prospective clients, and negotiate more proactively.

7. Find ways to have fun together

There’s a lot to be said for leadership by example! So lead the pack in having fun from home, and organize a weekly activity that fits your work culture.

Examples of team activities are a virtual happy hour or karaoke night, trivia night, an online scavenger hunt, or other multi-player online game. My new favorite is Codewords, an online word-guessing game in the format of rival “spymaster” teams (similar to Codenames board game).
If event planning is really not your thing, then delegate different team members each week to choose the activity. But make sure you participate – sales teams that play together stay together!

 

 

 

Chris Tully is Founder of SALES GROWTH ADVISORS

“For more than 25 years, I’ve led sales organizations in public and private technology companies, with teams as large as 400 people, and significant revenue responsibility.
I founded Sales Growth Advisors to help mid-market CEOs execute proven strategies to accelerate their top line revenue. I have a great appreciation for how hard it is to start and grow a business, and it is gratifying to me to do what I am ‘best at’ to help companies grow faster and more effectively.
Let’s get acquainted. I am certain I can offer you an experienced perspective to help you with your growth strategy.”

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