I have built and advised sales teams for about 13 years now, so needless to say, I’ve been on my fair share of teams in a professional setting. While there have been hardships along the way, I’ve learned from them and wouldn’t change a thing. Why? Because nothing beats the bond you create with teammates in the pursuit of a common goal of success.
Many of you have been a part of strong teams before, be it sports or sales, and know it’s a great feeling. But how did it start? Where did this team get its identity from at the beginning? And what can you do as a sales leader or founder to make sure you get the strongest sales team possible?
Here are three tips I’ve learned through the years to answer these questions:
1. Hire the right leader. It cannot be overstated enough that you should hire somebody who has previous experience. What if you can’t afford them, find them, or land them? Hire the next best thing. There are countless sales managers out there who have worked alongside some really fantastic VPs, and who are ready for their own chance at being in charge. They have their own playbook they can use, and are likely able to access their previous boss for help so you can land your advisor, too. They’re likely cheaper, extremely hungry, and motivated as well. Don’t be afraid to give someone their first shot either—every star sales leader got their first chance at some point.
2. Remember that the process is more important than results…at first. You will get and feel pressure to produce right away, and you should. But early “production” does not necessarily mean more zeros at the end of your bank account. “Production” can and should be focused on the steps your team will follow in order to succeed at scale. This includes any number of topics: hiring, comp plans, sales pitches and collateral, sales stacks, pricing and more. If you nail the process early on, stick to it. It will save you countless headaches in the future, and your team will be better in the long run.
3. Invest in your people. Get to know your first sales hires, and spend necessary time with them. You are there to help them get what they want, not the other way around. You’re in charge of helping them get to the next level in their career, which requires you to care about where they are now, and where they want to be later on. Listen to them, and implement suggestions that they give you. Hold them accountable, and show them you will do what it takes to keep them from using poor work habits. Coach and train them so they’re better today than they were yesterday. When your team is ready and willing to run through a brick wall to succeed, for both themselves and you, then you know you’ve achieved your mission.
If you do these things are you guaranteed success? No, but you will have built a killer foundation that is prepped to be the engine that makes your company go for the road ahead.