Picture this: Ron, the sales director of a company that produces cutting-edge productivity tools, just landed a partnership with a tech giant. This promised the company a significant rise in demand.
But there’s a catch: They needed to double the size of their sales team in less than a month to address this new demand.
It was like trying to build an airplane mid-flight. With turbulence all around and the risk of either skyrocketing to new heights or crashing to the ground…
Ron had to find the perfect balance between speed and precision. Meaning, scouting top talent while preserving the company’s culture. And, at the same time, meeting the sales targets.
Business is a dynamic industry. As such, growth opportunities can arise unexpectedly, demanding swift and strategic action.
While companies secure new partnerships, launch innovative products, or expand into new markets, the need to scale sales teams becomes critical. But how do organizations succeed in scaling up their sales team effectively and efficiently?
Go big or go home: Scale sales teams for success
Unlocking your sales team’s potential is a journey. It promises increased revenue and empowers you to succeed in a competitive market.
Let’s discover how you can scale sales teams and reap the rewards.
Adjust the traditional hiring process
When scaling your sales team, the first step is to get good candidates. And fast.
This is why the traditional hiring process should be adjusted to meet such a need. To achieve that, consider the following tips:
- Use video interviews: Filter out candidates that are not invested in working for the company, or don’t have the language skills you need for the role. By using the power of video interviews you can gain insights on how candidates reply to your questions. For example, how vague they are, how motivated, and how they present themselves in front of a camera.
- Explore employee referrals: Take advantage of your employee referrals on LinkedIn. Employee referrals account for 30-50% of all hires, according to Zippia. And they can be a valuable source of new hires when scaling your sales team. Referred candidates also tend to be more committed during the interviewing process and more excited to join the company as they have an idea of the culture already.
- Don’t wait until you evaluate every candidate: During hiring, evaluate each candidate individually and not in comparison to others. At the end of the final interview ask yourself: “Do we want to work with this person, yes or no?”. It’s a simple question but it will speed up the evaluation process. And mean you can make an offer straight away. This way, you’ll avoid losing a good candidate to another company. Plus, you won’t settle for a “good enough” candidate just because you didn’t find someone better.
- Flag good candidates even if you didn’t select them: Don’t lose track of good candidates who weren’t successful. They may want to participate again in another hiring round. Or, they may be a good fit for another role.
- Enable internal lateral moves or promotions: Employees in other departments (for example, marketing or HR) may be interested in a move to sales. Internal moves or promotions can cut down the onboarding time by around 50%. So, always take internal interest into consideration.
- Hire for entry-level roles: When scaling your sales team, look for potential more than experience. Structure interview questions around candidates’ motivations, career plans, and determination to work in sales. Don’t overanalyze their past experience and achievements.
Focus on onboarding
After selecting the right candidates to scale sales teams, it’s essential to train them properly to ensure short time-to-productivity. Your onboarding process should look like this:
- Day one: Focus your onboarding training on HR-related tasks, like setting up hardware and other tools. Plan welcome meetings with the new hires’ manager and product trainer.
- Next 3 days: Dedicate the next few days to product training and sales essentials, like sales methodologies. Schedule onboarding training sessions with their trainer(s), then assign tasks to new hires to test their knowledge in between these training sessions. Don’t forget to allocate a final assessment at the end of each training course.
- End of 1st week to 2nd week: Role-playing can do wonders when scaling your sales team. Focusing on soft skills for sales can be conducted during this time. Encourage role-playing with managers and the rest of the team. New hires will have the opportunity to listen to and join calls with peers, discuss feedback on the spot, plus get familiar with processes and messaging.
Onboarding training tips you should consider:
- Have a training plan in place ahead of time: Block time on all calendars (yours, your new hires’, and anyone else’s included in the onboarding process)
- Record repetitive and non-interactive sessions: Your new hires can complete these sessions at their own pace. Plus they know what they have to do every day.
- Make recordings shorter: Split lengthy recordings that address a specific topic into smaller ones. In that way, it’s easier to re-record something you need to update in the future. Employees can revisit a specific bit if they need a refresher.
- Get feedback: A month or so after the onboarding process for scaling your sales team is complete, ask your new hires for their feedback. For example, what helped them during onboarding and what can be done differently to better cater to their needs.
Invest in tech and sales enablement
It’s almost impossible to scale sales teams without having the right tools in place. Or without a well-thought-out tech and sales enablement program. A tech and sales enablement program allows you to create a repeatable and scalable process. It also means you can identify gaps in your onboarding, and make improvements the next time you hire.
By investing in tech and sales enablement you can track what has been done and what needs to be done. You can see completions. And you can identify what needs to be reinforced early on, especially if you’re onboarding multiple people at the same time.
Tech and sales enablement also helps new hires become engaged from day 1, as it gives them a clear timeline of their first few weeks.
Avoid common pitfalls
Scaling your sales team comes with its challenges. So, how do you overcome difficulties that new hires may face during their first days at work?
- Implement a buddy system: Pair your new hires with members of the existing team. This way, they’ll have a go-to person for simple questions. Plus, they’ll have the chance to interact and socialize with peers regularly.
- Produce really good documentation: Most people need to read/hear/experience a process several times before they’re able to follow it. So, provide clear documentation your new hires can go back to.
- Make time for practice: Incorporate practical exercises, such as role plays, tests, and self-recordings, into the onboarding process. This will give new hires the chance to apply what they’ve learned. And get them up to speed faster.
- Schedule daily catch-ups: Regular communication is crucial when scaling up your sales team. Conduct daily synchronization meetings to review progress, provide feedback, and address any questions or concerns.
A real-life example of scaling a sales team
At Epignosis, we grew our sales team from zero to 16 in 9 months (from September 2022 to May 2023). The speed and scale of the process had its challenges. But with careful planning and a few adjustments, it was a success.
Here’s what we did to make it work:
- We shortened onboarding time from three weeks to two weeks. And we focused more on roleplay and practice than reading resources or processes
- We made sure that training content was cohesive across different platforms and format courses and playbooks)
- We held team stand-ups at least twice a week, so new hires could interact with their peers as much as possible
- We encouraged knowledge sharing among peers and the exchange of experiences and tips
- We planned frequent catch-ups during the first two weeks on the job
Pro tip: Never assume that everything is understood. Explore the leads of your new hires one by one. And ask them to walk you through their work. That way, you’ll better understand if they’ve grasped the concepts necessary to perform their job successfully.
Scaling success: Beyond the launch, into endless growth
Bringing your sales team together and launching them into action quickly is just the start.
To make it a success requires continuous commitment.
After the initial push, the focus shifts to ongoing support and growth. So invest in regular feedback, provide ongoing training opportunities, and foster a collaborative atmosphere. Blend experienced and new members together. Celebrate milestones and address challenges. And remember to nurture a culture of learning and development.
The result? A sales team that’s ready to adapt to anything the ever-changing sales landscape has to throw at it.