The first few months of a startup business is typically spent in building the product and validating the business model. But once this is established, investors seek rapid growth and this is often accompanied by rapid increases in the marketing budget. This part of the customer acquisition process is highly scalable since a lot of this is carried out through third-party platforms like Google Ads or other marketing channels.
It is nurturing these leads and closing the sale that often ends up being the bottleneck. These processes are handled by salespeople and scaling up this part of your business is not possible unless there is a proportionate increase in the sales force.
Increasing your sales force, however, is not just about hiring new people. Every business has its own processes and learning curve to go with it – training your staff on this can be time-consuming.
Setting up a framework to scale your sales team is thus of extreme importance. Here is how you go about it.
Establish your sales process
Before you set up a framework for your sales staff training, it is important to get your sales process in place. For startup organizations, this often means setting up a process from scratch – and while the specifics of the process are unique to each organization and industry, the general steps are mostly the same.
This includes prospecting, preparation, approach, presentation, handling objections, closing and follow up. Building the ideal sales process is a collaborative effort and is a knowledge management project in practice.
To build the process, existing members of the sales force document their lessons and tips along each step of the process and the collated document provides a comprehensive database of lead generation channels, prospecting templates, business presentations along with tips on what works and what doesn’t along the way.
Demarcate roles clearly
The sales staff in many organizations are responsible for activities that do not involve active selling. This includes prospect discovery, outreach, creating presentations, and so on. Not only does this bring down the efficiency of your sales team, this also contributes to protracted onboarding sessions.
By creating specialized sales roles that handle each of these various tasks can thus help your organization in two ways. Firstly, it reduces the time it takes to train your staff, and secondly, it establishes repeatability that improves efficiency. Your sales force is also likely to be happier since they no longer have to waste time on tasks that do not directly influence the top line.
Establish a mentorship program
In a startup with hockey-stick growth, sales teams are perennially starved for resources. The time it takes to hire and onboard new recruits can thus be a significant drain on resources; not to mention the opportunity cost of the exercise.
Mentorship programs have proven to be one of the quickest ways to onboard new employees to an organization. Mentors help experienced salespeople transition their knowledge to the newly recruited colleagues and this accelerates the learning process and allows them to be up to speed with the sales process.
Constant learning and skill up-gradation
Your sales force cannot expand infinitely. One way to sustainably scale your business up is by constantly working towards increasing the productivity of your existing workforce. With sales teams, digital selling is one of the oft-overlooked aspects of selling. Digital selling and social selling techniques can help organizations quickly scale up their acquisition channels and is a skill up-gradation that your organization desperately needs; especially if you have experienced sales folks.
Like digital selling, there are other aspects of sales that are constantly evolving and it is important to develop a framework that will ensure that your sales force is constantly learning and upskilling themselves. This improves productivity and closure rates that improve the ROI on your sales hiring process.
Building a scalable sales team needs a lot of planning and your success boils down to how well you execute these plans. Regardless of how well you are able to do this, this is a learning process that helps your team build a solid framework for the future.