Written by technology focused writer and copywriter, Ann Buechner
My first "real" job was at a men's clothing store, making $4.25 an hour plus commision. Until that moment, my only experience "selling" was routinely convincing my parents to let me stay out later than I should--that, and a couple of childhood lemonade stands. I'm not sure what the manager at that store saw in me, but he took a chance on me, green as I was, and I joined his rather motley sales crew. We did well, though, consistently hitting and surpassing sales benchmarks, through hard work, good humour, and team spirit.
Your business may not be a men's clothing store, but the need for an excellent sales team surely still applies. And the question, unless you happen to be preternaturally gifted at hiring, remains: How does one build that team? Answer: Methodically.
- Evaluate - What, exactly, do you want your sales team to do for you? "Sell," of course, but how? Will your sales team mostly be Wizards of Oz, i.e., "men-behind-the-curtain," and email-based and phone-based? Or will your sales team be Glindas, i.e., physical ambassadors of your company, in-person and site-based? Perhaps a bit of both? Determine a specific list of qualities that you want members of your sales team to possess.
- Select a predictive assessment tool - Rather than going through stacks and stacks of resumes, which can disqualify potentially great sales people, consider utilizing an assessment for your first screening. While this may seem like an expensive approach, consider the cost of the amount of time spent poring over resumes, as well as the fact that an assessment may get you 50% more qualified candidates.
- Qualify - Sometimes, the phone interview can be a bit of a slow pitch. Make the interview brief and tough. Remember: You only want to bring in candidates who are the best fit for your company.
- Interview - Give the same interview to all candidates. Think about having an additional company employee sit in on the interview to give a second opinion and to prevent bias.
- Persuade - Once you're ready to start making offers, it's time to sell the candidates on the company. Have a clear, communicable vision for how the company and they will grow together.
- Onboarding - As qualified and full of potential a candidate may be, anyone can fall through the cracks if not well-prepped in his or her first days at a job. Have a 90-day training plan to get your sales team members up to speed, productive, and happy.
- Sales productivity - Have a system in place to measure productivity, as well as tools (charts, reports, etc.) for your sales team to track their individual productivity against the team average. At its root, of course, productivity = sales generated; however, be sure that your sales team is not alienating customers or overburdening the company's end in the process of driving sales.