When it’s time to scale your team, there are dozens of things that can go wrong. How do you make sure you hire the right team members? What if they don’t work out? How can I make sure the people I bring are really good.
On today’s episode of Sales From The Street, we’ll discuss how to scale your team and make sure you can function and perform effectively. Dan Cook of Lucid Software shares how he created a sales team where there wasn’t one previously, and how he overcame the challenges that emerged.
Lucid Software grew from 35 employees in 2014 to almost 400 employees today. At the start of his endeavor, Dan was the only sales rep, and now the team includes almost 100 reps.
Before Dan could begin to grow the sales program, he had to figure out what it would look like first. He played the role of sales rep, figured out how to build a pipeline, discovered how to close deals, and documented every step of the process.
He got the green light to grow the team, and then he began the process of determining whether his success was repeatable. Could the four reps he hired repeat the same kind of success he had as a sales rep.
When things weren’t working, Dan was left wondering if the problem was the people he had hired or the system he had put in place. He had to figure out how to help them perform better.
Then, as the sales team grew to include more reps and more managers, the challenges of scaling grew in importance and sophistication.
In the early stages, Dan’s priority was troubleshooting: finding places in the process that didn’t work and determine what the problem was.
Along the way, he discovered that every person is different. Each has a different level of experience and each “grew up” in a different setting.
As a result, each has a comparative advantage in certain areas.
Dan discovered his advantage was in the process and strategy side of building a sales program. He discovered that he did not have an advantage in software sales and tactically managing the different components of the sales process. So in things like prospecting, pipeline creation, negotiation, and closing, he wasn’t the strongest guy.
He quickly learned the need for self-awareness, and the ability to identify people whose strengths can complement or supplement your own. He recruited people who had experience managing sales teams who could supplement the places he wasn’t strong.
You must recognize that you don’t have all the answers, and that your ego can get in the way of helping the team.
Dan stresses the importance of creating a culture that allows people to ask questions. He seeks a balance between inspiring confidence in his leadership while still acknowledging that he doesn’t know everything.
Dan allows his employees to ask dumb questions, and he has worked to get rid of the competitiveness that prevents people from asking questions. He strives to help his managers be humble instead of defensive.
If you set the right sales culture and build the right sales team, your results will follow.
Be reflective and ask good questions about what you’re good at and where you know you need help when you scale your team. Be willing to hire people who complement you. When you do, you’ll create a culture that leads to positive outcomes.
Lucid Chart is a diagramming application that launched in June. Lucid Chart allows users to build account maps to better understand who they’re selling to. It streamlines collaboration between teams within a company.
On this 4th of July, declare your independence from mediocre selling. The buyer-based ideology presented in Stop Selling & Start Leading: How to Make Extraordinary Sales Happen from our sponsors at Wiley will help your prospects see you as a leader. When they do, people will purchase from you instead of your competition.
Check out the Video Jungle podcast, your source for marketing and selling your brand using video. Plan, create and share your way to better content and strategy. Video Jungle offers top-notch, state-of-the-art advice about video, which is a great way to offer relevant content on LinkedIn.
Leave us a review wherever you consume this content. Share it with someone else who might benefit from our message. If you haven’t already done so, subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss a single episode.
Sales From the Street gives us an opportunity to hear from other sales professionals about the challenges they face and how they approach them. Today’s challenge is scaling a sales force.
On today’s episode of The Sales Evangelist, Dimitar Stanimiroff explains how he handled building and scaling a sales force while he was still managing his own quota.
Stanimiroff is the co-founder of Heresy, a sales platform designed to help increase collaboration and improve agility among sales teams.
Dimitar realized that hiring is a full-time job, and training people is intense as well. Trying to do both of those things while still hitting his own target would be extremely challenging. His challenge was scaling a sales force.
He started by introducing a regular cadence in an attempt to improve efficiency. Beginning with the idea that there are about 23 sales days in a month, he broke the month down into smaller components.
Instead of forecasting for an entire month, his team operated in blocks of five sales days. At the beginning of each new block, the team would meet to discuss past performance and evaluate how well they were doing. They also looked for places to improve.
In the end, each person committed to a certain amount of revenue for the next block, which gave him a good understanding of how the team would perform.
The meetings gave him a chance to share his own experiences with the product since he had been selling it for six months. They also gave his two new hires a chance to share their own knowledge.
Dimitar realized that he needed a way to leverage his own time. Because the two guys he hired came from very different verticals, he needed to share his own knowledge and best practices with them.
By giving them good visibility on the company’s mission and progress, he created a collaborative culture. Instead of operating with one sales manager, they established a framework of sharing.
Each time the company added a new cohort, the trajectory was quicker because they were very good at generating knowledge. Each generation of team members ramped up more quickly than the last.
Most sales organizations fail to recognize that the industry is built on faulty assumptions. The notion that most salespeople would sell their own mothers for a profit is perpetuated by Hollywood.
If you believe this is true, the only place to manage such a group is with a heavy hand. That kind of environment will create tension and competition and will prevent reps from seeing each other as teammates. It will also increase attrition.
Without that culture, you won’t have as much knowledge to share because you have fewer people contributing to the conversation.
Sharing knowledge, on the other hand, is your company’s biggest lever when it comes to scaling your team.
Consider giving a copy of the book Stop Selling & Start Leading as a thank you gift to someone who provided a referral. It’s a blueprint for sellers based upon years of research about the things buyers hate.
We’re so convinced that you’ll love the book that we’re providing a free excerpt to our listeners here.
The Sales Evangelist Hustler’s League is an online coaching program designed to help sellers of all levels and all industries improve. It’s an opportunity to share ideas and interact with other sellers from around the world.
Also check out The Sales Evangelizers on Facebook, where a community of people shares their struggles and their experiences with selling.
Audio provided by Free SFX.
Getting a sales team from the ground to the top takes a little bit of work. Today’s guest is sales architect, Nigel Green, and he shares his insights into what you can do to scale your sales team to the next level.
Nigel worked his way up the sales ladder until he became a leader and learned how to build teams quickly by grasping on to the motivations of the reps. By 2016, he became the CEO of StoryBrand where they help companies clarify their message, which is a very important element in sales.
Nigel has been a student of sales for the past ten years and he helps companies that want to go fast and to figure out a recipe to getting where they want to go in a short span of time.
Here are the highlights of my conversation with Nigel:
How to get started with scaling: Understand what you’re doing well.
Formalize some feedback. Before you scale, you want to systematically get information from your customers on what’s right with the offering, what’s wrong with the offering, what’s missing that they have to go somewhere else, and what’s confusing. Ask these to your happiest customers who are the 20% that make up 80% of your business.
3 Ways to Grow Your Business:
Take what’s write about your offering and find out who else in the market place needs it. Fix what’s wrong and amplify what’s right about your offering.
When was the last time you adjusted the price on your offering? For most companies, it would be in a while because they feel like the price is the ultimate decision-making piece for customers. Raise more price and add more value. Think of ways that you can add additional features or services that amplify the perceived value.
Give them another reason to buy from you. This is where you look at what’s missing or what’s confusing about your offering. Customers will love to tell you all the ways you’re not solving the problem. Be honest and open to hearing it so you can come up with additional offerings that allow you to offer them something completely different, be it a service model or coaching, anyway that you can add a subscription for some type of recurring revenue to your product or service. Or if you’re a subscription revenue where you have a repeat revenue, what’s a one-time thing and a real quick win you can do to generate additional revenue?
If the business strategy is to get more customers, the compensation plan of the rep has to incentivize new revenue. Nigel recommends breaking down the team into their specialized roles to have someone dedicate their energy to closing new business and have compensations plans that support both of them.
Think about how exactly you want the customer to experience your brand or offering. The challenge with reps is they tell you how they want to do it but it may not be what’s best for the customer. Instead, think about how to get your customers from unaware to aware about the offering, the interest, the evaluation process, how they transact with us and how they buy and after they buy, how to maintain relationships. Map out this ideal customer journey and then figure out who inside the organization needs to own every single step.
It’s okay for one person to own multiple phases of the buying cycle but if you can take a customer from unaware to post-purchase and know who’s exactly responsible for that experience, you’re off to a good start.
Where companies go wrong is that reps are making price concessions and offering rebates that deteriorate earnings that lead to less than desirable results.
Put some metrics where if they discount their price, you will also discount their commission. And if they can raise the price, reward them for that by giving them higher commission percentage. Creating these tiers and giving flexibility to the rep to adjust the price based on what the customer needs, this is a strategy for improving your margins.
This is the hardest strategy to implement and scale because while the market might need your offering if you don’t think through its deployment, it could be a distraction to your sales team.
Make sure you launch your product correctly. You have to train your reps and make sure that if they have enough to worry about with their products, hire a specialty force to sell this new offering so as not to distract your core reps from the core products.
Be careful in doing this. There is a lot of research on how to create specialization within your sales force particularly around the new product offering.
Nigel’s Major Takeaway:
The most underutilized tactic in selling is listening. Particularly in complex sales with multiple decision makers, listening becomes paramount. It’s not being quiet and creating space to let you plan what you’re going to say next. Focus less on what you’re going to say and more on what the customer is telling us.
Nigel has put together a content and worksheet that you can add to your sales training program. Check out www.findevergreen.com/listen and go through the worksheet to figure out where you need to do some work on your own listening.
Check out www.findevergreen.com/listen and go through the worksheet to figure out where you need to do some work on your own listening.
Summit on Content Marketing on May 22-June 02, 2017
Get a free audiobook download and a 30-day free trial at audibletrial.com/tse with over 180,000 titles to choose from for your iPhone, Android, Kindle or mp3 player.
What do you like about our podcast? Kindly leave us some rating and/or review on iTunes. This would mean so much to me