Beginner’s guide to building a sales team

By: Jamie Scarborough

Most companies in 2019 know the value of having a specific lead generation team to drive more new business meetings. In its best form, this focused, energetic and highly measurable business unit can ensure more experienced, highly-paid Account Executives maximize their time in client engagements, as opposed to dialling for dollars or qualifying inbound leads.

The biggest challenge is how to build the team. With more than 7,500 successfully completed recruitment projects over 12 years, Sales Talent Agency has worked with and learned a lot from some of the best sales leaders across North America. Below is a simple checklist that can help you with the basics.

Question 1: Can you hire high-talent/no-experience candidates?

Making 65 dials per day does not require a lot of sales expertise, but, knowing what to do if the potential client picks up (and if they don’t), does require strategy and tactics that need to be developed. A strong, hands-on sales coach can very quickly build a rookie into an efficient and effective lead generator. This sales manager will need to spend every minute of their day for at least 3-months with the rookie(s) in order to tweak and develop their habits and keep them focused. 

If you have that person in-house or are prepared to hire someone like that, you are able to make relatively inexpensive hires (<$50k salaries) and get very positive results. If you do not have that person (or they do not have the opportunity to do the role full-time), a rookie team will fail. You will need to spend a bit more on salaries ($55k-65k) to get people already trained and only requiring “tweaks” and weekly touch points.

Question 2: How can you choose “talent”?

Rookies do not have impressive resumes. You need to look for potential, not proof. Despite what the thousands of psychometric testing companies will tell you, we have yet to see an online predictive performance test that consistently selects future rockstars. So, you need to be very thoughtful in how you analyze the talent. 

You should look for the following four critical things:

  1. Personal success goals with indications of the work ethic and resiliency it will take to achieve them
  2. A high level of emotional intelligence that will enable them to build rapport quickly and with different personality types
  3. Curiosity and intelligence that would enable them – with time – to become an expert consultant
  4. A clear interest in your company/solution (not just a job)

The best way we have found to analyze these traits is through an assignment personalized to your specific company. By giving an interesting and challenging assignment with 4 days to prepare, you will get an excellent opportunity to see their effort, thought process and engagement.

Question 3: What do you need to pay?

Considering most rookies have a lot of student debt and high living costs, you would think that the company that pays the most money gets the best talent. However, in our research and experience, the best (Top 15%) rookies choose jobs based on the following factors in this order:

  1. Is the industry interesting to them?
  2. Is the company impressive to their peers/family?
  3. Is there a manager/leader they really connect with and can learn from?
  4. Is there a well defined career path?
  5. Is the money competitive?

If your company is particularly strong with the first four, the money is far less important (just be in the ball-park). If you are a little shaky in any or all of the first four, you are going to have to pay a lot.

2019 has seen significant increases in salaries for all salespeople, and specifically for early-career-stage candidates. BDR/SDR salaries in Toronto that two years ago ranged from $36-45k, now range from $45-60k. You can still hire people below that range, but only if you can answer 1-4 extremely well, or are more flexible with the quality of the hire (Top 16%-50%).

Question 4: What do SDRs/BDRs need to be successful?

The very best salespeople (top 1%) can be successful with very little support. They are extremely hard to find and keep, so you need to expand to the top 15% to ensure scalability. The top 15% are still highly talented, but not nearly as autonomous. They will fail more often if you do not provide them with:

  1. A highly engaged, supportive and proven manager/coach… someone who can pre-game/post-game and even take over their calls if they are derailed
  2. A very clear value proposition that explains the specific problem your company/product solves and why it is unique and compelling
  3. Proof of the value proposition through case studies, testimonials and reference letters
  4. An excellent understanding of the type of companies and decision makers who will most likely use/want your products/solutions, and a database/process that helps them quickly find people to contact who fit that profile
  5. Ongoing and proactive rejection handling training
  6. A thoughtful activity quota to start, and a reasonable revenue quota once ramped up
  7. A clear understanding of their next career step(s) and what specifically they need to do to achieve them
  8. A well-implemented CRM that helps them manage their activities, keep track of their pipeline, and prompt engagements
  9. A culture of positivity and collaboration. Sales (especially cold calling) is really hard and can be demoralizing. The leaders and organization must recognize the efforts and celebrate the little wins

While there are countless more questions you can ask yourself as you develop your strategy, these four will make the biggest difference. If you would like to book time with us to get free advice on your specific challenges and goals, book a 30-minute session here.  Happy hunting.