As your business has grown, you’ve likely been serving as your own salesperson. Yes, you may have hired other employees – perhaps to run operations, manage finances, and meet other needs – but now it’s time to hire your first salesperson and build your sales team.
Over time, your business has probably developed its own culture, based on your personality, entrepreneurial spirit, and business values. You certainly want your salespeople to fit well within that company culture. Yet finding, hiring, and managing a sales team is a bit different from hiring other employees. Compensation plans are more complicated. Establishing performance goals can be more complex and salespeople may need extra incentives to help your company grow.
So if you want to build an effective sales culture that fits well within your business, you’ll need to take on the responsibilities of finding candidates, hiring the most promising ones, training them, making sure they’re rewarded well enough to help you increase revenues – and perhaps most importantly – maintaining ethical standards that address meeting customer needs in a way that reflects well on your business and your brand.
Building a sales team starts with your first hire. This may be the most difficult decision you ever make to establish an effective sales organization. Where do you find candidates? Advertising might work, but you may find more qualified candidates by asking your network of colleagues and associates if they know anyone looking for a position. After all, your network is likely to be familiar with your goals and your needs.
Most salespeople probably won’t expect a straight salary-based compensation plan, nor will they necessarily want to work that way. Salespeople generally prefer a plan that allows them to make more money based on the number of sales they make. This will require that you learn how to set up a system of commissions, bonuses, and other incentives that will motivate your sales team to achieve the best possible performance in meeting your revenue goals.
How many sales can you expect from a salesperson over a specific time? That depends greatly on your sales cycle. Quick, immediate sales, such as in a retail environment, may generate significant sales in a short period of time. Longer sales cycles, such as selling expensive equipment, may mean fewer sales, but higher revenues per sale. You can set quotas based on sales, but in some cases you may want to set quotas based on gross profits or other criteria.
Money is definitely the major factor in motivating your sales team, but additional incentives that reward extraordinary performance can also encourage salespeople to boost their productivity. Establishing deadline-based contests or offering special rewards for exceeding quotas by certain target levels can be highly motivating as well – and even encourage friendly competition.
You’ve worked hard to build your brand, so you can’t let it suffer because your sales team doesn’t understand its ethical obligations. That’s why you want to make sure that you clearly communicate your ethical standards, your expectations that your sales team will adhere to those standards, and the consequences of violating them.