I hear it almost every day… “I have a scalable business and need to build a sales team, what are the first things I need to consider before I go about either hiring a sales manager or outsourcing this function?”
Well, to answer this to the best of my ability and cease the repetitive nature of my daily conversations, I thought I would begin writing down exactly what I share with each and every one of you. My goal in this particular blog post is to keep it to the very basics however, my larger goal is to create a series and provide further depth and breadth to each one of the steps listed below.
Just one thing however before I get started… understand that there is a BIG difference between a business that is easily scalable and one that is not. Case in point a local plumber. While a plumber’s business is scalable, it is VERY difficult to scale this business nationally. This would take a lot of money, time, real estate and people. A technology company on the other hand that provides a software as a service is much more easily scalable since their service is available to the world through the cloud. No real estate component, fewer people, less time and money. So readers, please be honest with yourselves and know the true scalability of your business before you even think about putting the cart before the horse and attempting to scale your sales nationally.
8 STEPS TO SCALING YOUR SALES AND BUILDING A NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL SALES TEAM
1. Know Whether Your Product or Service Is Sold To Consumers or To Businesses or Both
2. Have a Solid Marketing Strategy and Brand
3. Know Thy Customer
4. Develop and Manage Marketing and Sales Systems
5. Know Your Scalability Economics
6. Attract All-Star Performers
7. Develop The Right Team Building Deployment Model/Approach
8. Integrate, Automate or Die!
1. KNOW WHETHER YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE IS SOLD TO CONSUMERS, BUSINESSES OR BOTH If you have a product or service that is sold mainly to consumers directly (B2C), then marketing will be far more important for you than building a national sales team/campaign. In fact, a sales team may not even make economic sense. If however you have a product or service that is sold mainly to businesses (B2B), then marketing AND sales are very likely just as important. Assuming you have a product or service that is sold B2B then you will want to pay attention; building a national sales team may be the right path to scaling your sales.
2. HAVE A SOLID MARKETING STRATEGY AND BRAND Almost every successful sales campaign today requires a competent marketing strategy, plan, brand and the integration of such with the sales strategy, processes, managers and team. Before a sales superstar can go out and knock down doors, he first has to know that his company’s website, message, brand and collateral are top notch. The better it is, the greater the chance he will be able to close or as we say in professional sales circles, convert. See THIS blog post for more on what I mean about conversion based marketing.
3. KNOW THY CUSTOMER Do your homework before you start! Who are/will be the main purchasers of your product or service? Are they male or female? What age group and socio-economic category are they in? What conversion based phrases/words resonate with this particular group of people? To market and sell most effectively, you need to know who your specific audience is. The narrower, more hyper-specific they are, the more focused your sales and marketing strategy and deployment! Click –>HERE<– for more on this.
4. DEVELOP AND MANAGE MARKETING AND SALES SYSTEMS Scaling sales today requires defined processes, systems and automation. Not only do you have to make the right choices, but you have to put the right people in place to be accountable for the use and leverage of such. Particularly important here is the integration of your marketing messaging (collateral, blogs, white papers, case studies, etc.) as it takes a Minimum of six touches by the sales person (to a prospect) to convert that prospect to a customer. The better you can systematize this and then automate it, the greater the strength of your business.
5. KNOW YOUR “SCALABILITY ECONOMICS” Scalability economics is the process whereby you mathematically figure out the possible – or as my CFO would say, the reasonable; and by that I mean the possible (or reasonable) for the company, the sales manager, and the sales person! If you truly desire to scale your sales and build a national/international sales team (perhaps commission only) then you must be as selfless as possible in this process. Step one in this process is pricing inclusive any on-going fees. Once this is established, then here are the predominating discoverables that must be fully examined:
- the anticipated sales cycle (the shorter the better!),
- commission percentage (including any overrides to the management level)
- residual (YES, I said residual! If you want to build a successful sales team that is not a revolving door and attracts the greatest talent out there, then commission residual is highly encouraged – of course only if your model allows for this e.g., monthly service fees, annual fees, add-ons, etc.)
- based on agreed upon conversion assumptions, what can a hot-shot sales person make year 1, year 2, and so on. Before you ever get into any relationship with any sales team manager our outsourced solution, PLEASE make sure that you go through this process thoroughly and completely.
Be mindful, that almost everything is built around what is possible or reasonable and that (based on what is uncovered from this process) every sales deployment is different.
6. ATTRACT ALL-STAR PERFORMERS In order to attract quality you have to demonstrate quality. Sales pros today are smarter than you think. They may even be smarter than you – at least when it comes to sales and how to overcome the many objections they/you will face. Superstars are also very good at asking questions about YOU, your business, your systems, strategy, automation, support, etc. If you don’t have the answers and the ability to back them up (demonstrate how they are all in place) then your chances of reeling in the cream of the crop become increasingly diminished. Click —> HERE <— for the Top 7 Questions Superstar Sales Performers will likely ask YOU.
7. DEVELOP THE RIGHT TEAM BUILDING DEPLOYMENT MODEL Deployment and execution is where it all H-A-P-P-E-N-S. However, not all deployments are created equal. If you’ve done your homework and have a deep understanding of your market, customer, your marketing and sales strategies then, a customized and integrated marketing and sales approach can be created specifically for your business. Examples of varying deployment methods include:
- Feet on the street commission only sales force that performs all its own lead generation and conversion,
- Feet on the street commission only sales force that performs all of its own lead generation but after a certain point, it throws the prospect over the wall to a dedicated conversion team,
- Recruit, train, manage and motivate a phone sales team (or perhaps just retain a call center) that follows a specific script and process whereby it generates appointments for sales people visit the prospect and close the sale.
8. INTEGRATE, AUTOMATE OR DIE I know, I know, that sounds a bit harsh. Let me explain… What I mean here is that your marketing strategy, tactics, systems and processes have to be intimately mapped out and integrated/connected to your sales strategy, tactics, systems and processes. Why? For many reasons but the biggest one is to share with the marketing department the objections that the sales people are contending with so that its strategy, tactics, systems and processes are continually improved to re-incorporated back into the sales strategy, tactics, systems and processes. Finding the sweet spot is what we all seek in life and in business and I can assure you that you will never find your sweet spot unless you have a system in place where its processes are integrated and configured for constant improvement.
Bottom line here, Buyer Beware. You usually get what you pay for in this or any business. If you can’t afford to pay anything up front, in essence, solely stake your business’s future on results and commission, then be prepared to lose (of course not lose any money, but something even more valuable) TIME. Money we can always get back, time… well, once it’s lost, it’s gone forever. Most of all beware the sales manager, director or consulting team that is not speaking to you about all these factors. Marketing and process/systems integration today is so much more important than it has ever been. And, any good sales person or manager will tell you this. Oh, and if you don’t understand why marketing is so important is creating conversion in mass then I strongly encourage you to read Death Of A Salesman v.2.012 (please click through and read all THREE Acts!)