How To Start A Sales Team

How To Start A Sales Team

If you are starting a sales team, then this is an invaluable blog post. Read on to learn from the best sales executives in the industry.

Every company goes through a transformation. There comes a point where a small team of founders start to grow their team. For most startups, that team will involve a sales staff. This is where Aaron and I have found ourselves.

When we started Noble Creative, we both had a small client-base that we brought with us and we didn’t need sales. We were content to continue with word of mouth marketing. Now that the Noble Creative team has started to grow, we’ve realized that one does not simply “rely on word of mouth.”

I’ve always told my clients that they need a healthy mix of marketing, advertising and sales. At this point Noble Creative has 2/3 of that equation down. Watch out business owners, you might be getting a call from one of our rockstar sales staff in the near future (by the way, you can request a call from us here.)

Down to business: Over the past month we’ve been busy getting our sales team trained and have started testing the conversion of our pitch. Throughout this process I’ve realized that there are a lot of companies who are in the  boat of starting a new sales team, so I decided to be a good Samaritan so-to-speak and conduct an interview of the best sales managers/vps/CEOs that I know.

Here is an interview with Sean Ellis the CEO of Qualaroo, . Ben Sardella the VP of sales at KISSmetrics and Tin Linnet the CEO of Rutaesomn and WDC. The answers that they’ve provided are a great starting point for starting a sales team.

-Enjoy the interview.


Sean Ellis


how to do sales for a startupSean Ellis is the CEO of Qualaroo, a company focused on making it easy for marketers to improve website visitor engagement without help from the dev team. We use the Qualaroo toolset for almost every one of our clients and it always helps our clients grow their revenue. You can  follow Sean on Twitter and his personal Blog.

Q: Let’s start at the beginning What is the most important thing you look for when hiring a new salesperson?

A: Tenacity is the first thing that I look for in a sales person. I started in sales and feel like my sales success was based mostly on willpower to succeed.

 

Q: In your opinion, is there something that a sales team should do consistently to keep a team motivated and running effectively?

A: I think sharing successes is an important part of keeping a sales team motivated. When a sales rep sees that others are selling, then they know it is possible and are less likely to get discouraged. If they are smart they’ll try to figure out what the successful sales reps are doing differently from them.

 

Q: This one is just for fun… What is the most creative method you’ve heard of for building a leads list?

A: I really like the “Website Grader” service offered by Hubspot. I’m not sure if they still use it much, but any marketer to enter in their website address to receive a report that graded the website on marketing efficacy. Since it’s free, I know many marketers used it. And this gave the Hubspot sales team a great list of leads and context for selling their products to improve the marketing performance of the website.

 

Q: Can you give new sales people advice on “getting to the decision maker” as quickly as possible?

A: Work from the top down if possible. Decision makers will often give something a better look if the sales person has been referred by their boss (or boss’s boss).

 

Q: Lastly, I’d like to sum up this interview with; What has been the most unexpected challenge of running a sales team?

A: Finding the right balance between investing in marketing that generates more leads and expanding the sales team to maximize the leads we’re already generating.


Ben Sardella:


how to setup a sales team Ben Sardella is the VP of sales at KISSmetrics, one of my favorite companies. He is a self-proclaimed Family man, start-up sales guy and a die hard Boston sports fan. You can follow him on twitter.

Q: Let’s start at the beginning What is the most important thing you look for when hiring a new salesperson?

A: The most important thing for me is understanding what their goals are. I expect a rep to declare in an interview that they want to crush their number, that’s a given. I’m more interested in understanding their longer term goals so that I can get an indication on how they think of their own potential, know what will drive them to succeed (money should never be the only goal), and understand how I can help them achieve what it is they truly want. My goal is to make the people I hire the best they can possibly be and understanding what that means for them is critical in making that happen.

 

Q: In your opinion, is there something that a sales team should do consistently to keep a team motivated and running effectively?

A: Talk more about the wins and the losses. Sales teams typically focus on the now and spend far less time on what actually happened, both good and bad. Understanding why a customer purchased, how they found you, why they were a great fit, who was the buyer in the cycle, what value they are getting as a customer right away, what competitor you beat and why are all things that get lost when the focus is on what’s about to close. In addition, losses are hardly given enough attention because no one wants to think about the negative, it’s too easy to ignore. I’ve always said, you find more out about your lost deals than you ever do about your won deals. This becomes a bit of a challenge though for a couple of reasons:

1. Lost prospects hesitate to be honest but if you build a strong enough rapport with them during the sales process you should at least have earned the right to hear exactly what happened to cause you to lose the deal. (I find it easier for prospects to write this up in an email to avoid the awkwardness that can come from the situation).

2. It causes you to accept blame/failure/faults in your game as a rep and that is a tough pill to swallow.

Being honest with yourself and consequently the rest of your team allows everyone to learn from the loss and avoid the pitfalls that happened for the next deals that come around.

 

Q: This one is just for fun… What is the most creative method you’ve heard of for building a leads list?

A: I’ve actually cofounded a company, www.datanyze.com that is a key tool that we use at KISSmetrics. In fact, there are many VERY successful sales teams now using Datanyze. Knowing exactly what technology a potential lead uses can be a key element to building a qualified list of leads. In addition, having this information in hand when cold calling or evening in prepping for a qualification call can allow you to build instant rapport and credibility.

 

Q: Can you give new sales people advice on “getting to the decision maker” as effectively as possible?

A: 1. Understand what it is that’s important to that decision maker before you reach out. C-levels want different things than Director level executives and your messages need to adapt based on who it is you are talking to.

2. Most decision makers have blogs, twitter accounts or have done interviews. Research these things and use their words for your benefit. For instance, if I just tweeted about a topic thats meaningful to me and someone responds to that tweet personally it could easily start an engagement with me that will lead to a potential call.

 

Q: Lastly, I’d like to sum up this interview with; What has been the most unexpected challenge of running a sales team?

A: The people! I’ve managed a LOT of people directly in my career so far and the things that happen in those reps personal lives can really throw you for a loop sometimes. It’s always really important to remember that while sales reps are assigned a number to hit they are people with lives outside of work. Sales is a very emotional job, there are lots of highs and lows and the most important challenge I’ve faced often is working with reps to balance what happens “off the field” to ensure that it does not affect them “on the field” during those ups and downs.

Hope this helps!
-Ben


Tim Linnet:


how to start a sales team for a companyTim Linnet is the owner of two startup companies. One is a pharmaceutical company called Rutaesomn that makes the “anti-caffeine pill” and the other is the We Dream Center that helps startups find funding and build their companies.

Q: Let’s start at the beginning What is the most important thing you look for when hiring a new salesperson?

A:  I would say the most important thing to our team is finding a great culture fit. I would rather have someone with little to no experience in sales that is an amazing fit for our culture than someone that had a great resume but would clash with the values of our team. We are driven, we value relationship, we value integrity, we sell out of trust rather than fear, and we have fun. Most of all we are all dedicated to a dream that is larger than any one of us. My goal is to protect our culture so it can thrive. I look for people that can jive with our culture and hopefully positively influence it as well.

 

Q: In your opinion, is there something that a sales team should do consistently to keep a team motivated and running effectively?

A: For motivation, it is important not to get lost in the gory details of systems and processes or the big picture questions. We have regular ‘sprints’ which are prizes awarded for the next three accounts closed. We sometimes hold quarterly commission programs that have more of a medium term motivation. We also have quite a few long term programs that are designed to give ‘purpose’ and motivation to a position which encompass strategies like setting up personal goals that are synergistic with company short an long term goals, finding non-profits as a team to donate a portion of our sales, and having a company vision that everyone wants to be a part of. (sorry for the run-on) Oh and that company vision can’t just be $$. An effective sales team needs to be motivated but also needs to be lead, this is where the gory details, systems, and processes are everything. And finally, you need an amazing captain for the sales ship. She or He needs to be an A+ employee and capable of leading the team.

 

Q: This one is just for fun… What is the most creative method you’ve heard of for building a leads list?

A: You asked for creative… I happen to do business a bit different than most. Many of the decisions I make are based on my relationship and communication with God. About six months ago I had a dream twice in the same night, woke up, and realized that God had just told me how to get a ‘Lead List’ from one of our distributors. That next morning I acted on the dream and gained the largest and highest quality lead list in our company’s history.

 

Q: Can you give new sales people advice on “getting to the decision maker” as effectively as possible?

A: We like to leverage existing trust signals. If we are carried by their distributor then our call will definitely include dropping the name of their existing distributor rep. Getting to the decision maker is all about leveraging existing relationships to gain credibility.

 

Q: Lastly, I’d like to sum up this interview with; What has been the most unexpected challenge of running a sales team?

A: How much the emotional ups and downs of the team actually effect the bottom line surprised me. The more we focus on keeping our sales team healthy and happy the better results we see. We also care about our sales team as people, so there are added benefits to not just caring about cash all the time.