It is harder than ever to hire and retain employees. This is true for both B2B and B2C businesses in just about any industry, but it is especially difficult to find talented, reliable salespeople.
Because of this difficulty, many businesses are turning to outside sales contractors. These contractors give small businesses access to an experienced sales team without breaking their budgets, but at the end of the day, relying on contractors is less than ideal. You want your own people trained in your own organization’s values and procedures handling your sales. With an internal sales team, you have greater oversight over your sales team, and your sales team has the ability to deeply integrate with the rest of your staff. So how can businesses build and strengthen their own internal sales team? Here are a few ideas.
Sales can be a very personality-driven field, where persuasive, charismatic people often stand out. But being an effective member of a sales team also requires teamwork and empathy. A good resume or a list of contacts doesn’t necessarily make a candidate the right choice. The often nebulous idea of a “good fit” is what hiring managers should be looking for. Finding a good fit may boil down to asking the right questions and understanding the type of environment in which a candidate thrived previously. Do they seem like an instinctive or intuitive worker, or did they find success learning and following through on a company’s sales process? And that question leads into the next tip…
This one begins long before interviewing potential employees. A sales process is a set of principles and procedures designed to make your sales team more consistent and productive. Just as you’ve developed a customer-facing brand designed to draw the attention of a certain segment of consumers, your sales team should have a brand, as well, so that a client can expect the same level of service and the same journey with one salesperson as they would with another.
Culture isn’t some set of values that can be imposed top-down. Culture is made by the members of a group, so make sure you are hiring people who already embody the values you want to see in your sales team.
But that doesn’t mean your entire team should be made up of clones of the same person. You need a mix of experience and skills, but everyone needs empathy: listening and offering solutions will always get you more sales than talking and hard-sell pitching.
Every member of your sales team should know what’s expected of them. They should have goals, and it is your responsibility to give them everything they need to achieve those goals. Those goals should be company-wide, but individual team members should also have personal goals they’d like to achieve. Getting everyone on the same page begins at onboarding but continues through an employee’s entire tenure with a company.
A sales plan is one way to do this, as it not only gets all of your salespeople working from the same set of principles, emphasizing the right selling points, and projecting the right image for your brand, but also allows them to work in concert with the marketing team to better close leads and nurture relationships with existing customers.
Your most talented team members might start looking to move on to new challenges and better compensation. You can nip this one in the bud by hiring a team of top performers who are all worthy of equal salaries. If one person feels like they are carrying the load for everyone else, they may begin to feel they’ve outgrown your company.
On the other hand, you can recognize this possibility from the outset and build that into your hiring strategy. You know you’ve got a real talent on your hands, and they may be able to get a better package elsewhere, but you might be able to entice them to stick with you for a year to learn and grow under your wing before you send them off with a glowing recommendation.
The most important lesson to take from these tips is that the “best” person for the job isn’t always the one with the most skills, the most experience, or the most impressive resume. It’s about having the right attitude. Business News Daily studied 20,000 new hires and found that 46% failed within 18 months, and in 89% of those failed cases, attitude rather than aptitude was to blame. You’re better off waiting for the right candidate to come along than hire someone who seems good enough.