October 27, 2015
by Bob Meyer, Editor of BarterNews
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9 Steps For Building Successful
Sales Teams From Scratch
Building a sales team from scratch is one of the most difficult
and important tasks of a CEO. Generating revenue through sales,
especially as start-up capital diminishes, can make or break a
company’s success. However, hiring the wrong salespeople costs
dearly in time and treasure. Fortunately, there is a well-defined
formula for success.
CEO of Peak Sales Recruiting Eliot
Burdett has spent 25 years building sales teams and has nine steps
proven to build a successful sales team from scratch:
1) Don't build
Any entrepreneur yearns for
revenue streams but if the product is not ready, the offering is
shifting, the budget for an industry leader is not there or the
appropriate management support is not in place, then hiring
salespeople can be a waste of limited resources. This is because the
salespeople won’t have enough stability to be successful.
Furthermore, prospects will want to speak to founders that have high
domain knowledge and the authority to reduce the fear of risk
associated with a young company. When these conditions stabilize,
the time is right to start the recruiting process.
2) Define sales team structure:
Before hiring can commence, clearly defining the structure of
the sales team is critical. Will a rep handle everything from
prospecting to closing, or will there be separate teams for new
business versus inbound leads? It is critical to define the process
in advance so selling behaviors are aligned with the sales structure
Defining sales territories
focuses selling efforts and prevents employees from targeting the
same accounts and cannibalizing others’ efforts. Territories can be
defined by geography, sector, or business size.
out individual sales goals:
Identify the goals used to measure success for each sales rep. These
should include not only revenue goals but also the sales activity
required to achieve the revenue. To derive these, work backwards.
Start from the desired output divided by the number of sales to
arrive at the target number of sales wins, then determine the number
of prospects, calls and amount of time required to win each sale. It
is important to be realistic.
base and commission:
plans vary widely across industries and companies, but as a rule of
thumb, new business development positions pay a 50/50 split of base
salary and commission. The compensation plan may need to be adjusted
to provide fair reward for the effort and risk assumed by the
salesperson, but more importantly, make sure it is high enough to
attract the right sales people from competing employers.
6) Hire based on sales dna and
Ideally, hire a candidate that
has a proven track record of selling in startups. However, more
important is to measure their sales DNA which we define as key
traits of successful sellers such as ambition, perseverance,
confidence, optimism, sense of urgency, desire to influence others,
flexibility and ability to deal with uncertainty. The right DNA is
the biggest predictor of sales success.
on the things that attract top sales talent:
With limited funds, attracting top salespeople is difficult for
startups, but not impossible. The key is to make eye catching
job ads, offer a viable and well defined career as opposed to just a
job, get compensation offers right, and focus on attracting
gainfully employed sales people, since the best of the best are
always progressing well in their career.
a structured on-boarding program:
90 days of a sales-rep’s employment is a critical time. Each day
should be mapped out in terms of training on the product/service,
the market and customers, and the selling approaches, systems and
tools. Territory and account plan development and various other
tests should be used to gauge learning progress and knowledge
retention. Companies that take the time to invest in on-boarding
reap the rewards down the road.
It is critical that a new sales
hire's performance be monitored and measured closely. This is easy
to do in companies with a shorter sales cycle, where it will be
reasonable for a sales person to generate sales very quickly. In
companies with a longer sales cycle, the focus needs to be on
activities such as calls, meetings and pipeline of qualified
opportunities. In either case, failure to monitor the activities can
lead to poor habits, poor results and a failed hiree, which has
Building a sales team from the
ground up is no easy task, but when done properly, it will lead to a
powerful sales force that delivers strong and consistent revenue.
Eliot Burdett is the co-founder and CEO
of Peak Sales Recruiting, a leading recruiting company launched in
2006. Under his direction, the company leads the industry with a
success rate 50% higher than the industry average, working with a
wide-range of clients from boutique to world-class companies
including P&G, Gartner, Deloitte, Merck, Western Union and others..
Prior to Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building
and leading companies by recruiting and managing high performance
sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications)
and GlobalX (e-commerce software) and served as Vice President of
Sales for PointShot Wireless. Eliot received his Bachelor's Degree
in commerce from Carleton University and has received the "Top 40
Under 40" Award. He co-authored Sales
Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast
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