Let’s say your business has grown to the point where you need to bring some new blood onto your sales team.
First of all, congratulations!
But before you even think about hiring another rep in your sales organization, you need to take a step back.
Scaling a sales team can be tricky, even for the most experienced companies. In fact, hiring is one of the biggest challenges of today’s business leaders looking to expand and earn sales growth.
Why? Because without the right expectations and processes in place, scaling can actually throw a wrench into your sales process rather than speed it up.
In this guide, we’ll break down how to scale a sales team effectively and efficiently. From maximizing the productivity of your new hires to keeping morale high among your current team, we’ve got you covered.
The most common pitfalls of scaling a sales team
Listen: going from five salespeople to a team of ten or fifteen is no small feat for any sales organization.
And more talent on your team doesn't necessarily translate into more sales revenue growth, and customer success. Not by a long shot.
Perhaps the best way to avoid the hurdles of scaling a sales team, whether you are a sales leader or sales manager, is to understand what not to do. Below are some of the most common pitfalls businesses face when scaling up.
Failing to make the most of your current reps
Before hiring and learning how to scale a sales team, it’s crucial to assess the state of your sales team right now.
Is everybody hitting their quotas? Are they all performing the same sort of sales activities on a daily basis?
The purpose of putting your team’s individual performance under the microscope isn’t to micro-manage them as a sales leader. Instead, you’re holding your team members accountable and ensuring that they’re as productive as possible.
Given the high cost of hiring and onboarding, it makes perfect sense to double-check that your current sales team is meeting your expectations before bringing anyone else into the fold. Tools such as Copper’s activity-by-user report can drill down into your sales data to determine who’s pulling their weight and who isn’t.
Based on this data, you may realize that there are some internal changes that need to be made to your sales process before hiring.
Settling on subpar sales talent
Although this may seem like a no-brainer when it comes to sales growth, your business shouldn’t have to settle on talent.
Employees are investments. In almost every case, it’s worthwhile to spend a few extra weeks finding the right fit versus hiring someone on the spot who’s going to end up bouncing in six months.
Ideally, you should lock down sales talent that has actual firsthand experience in your industry (for example, B2B SaaS). Someone who clicks with your company culture and is coachable is also a plus. To help narrow down your search during hiring, you can check out our list of sales rep red flags to watch out for.
Rushing through onboarding and training
According to recent research by Gallup, effective onboarding goes hand in hand with productivity and employee retention.
In other words, you can’t rush your new hires. Throwing reps into the wild without proper training is a lose-lose situation because your numbers will suffer—as well as your team’s morale.
As noted in our guide to sales prospecting training, some actionable ways to train reps include:
- Allowing them to shadow your existing and experienced reps on sales calls
- Conducting mock calls and roleplay scenarios
- Providing a product knowledge base and demos
- Giving reps access to email templates and sales scripts
Remember what we said earlier about employees being investments? The initial time you spend familiarizing your new hires with your product, culture, sales process and software will pay off in the long run.
Thoughtful training empowers reps to ease into their roles and start closing faster. This means asking fewer questions or running into roadblocks during sales calls that could have been addressed during training.
Learn more about hiring and training a sales team:
Failing to forecast the future
Pop quiz: how many new hires can your business handle?
If you’re not sure, it’s time to take another dive into your data. Although sales forecasting may not be a crystal ball, modern analytics can clue you in on what the future holds.
Forecasting reports from Copper are valuable for scaling a sales team as it helps you understand whether or not your business is on track to meet its revenue goals. Based on these numbers, you can hire new reps with some much-needed peace of mind.
Scaling in the midst of a shake-up
Honestly, there is no “perfect” time to scale up your sales team.
However, you should strive to scale under relatively stable conditions.
Massive shake-ups in the economy or your industry (think: regulatory changes, new competitors) obviously aren’t ideal for bringing on new hires. Although these factors are ultimately out of your control, you should at least have a pulse on them.
Likewise, you should verify that beefing up your sales team makes sense for the rest of your company.
Pro-tip: For example, is your marketing team able to generate enough leads for your new reps? Are there any big changes to your product in the near future? Communicating beyond your own department is always a good idea, but is especially important when scaling a sales team.
The keys to scaling successfully
Now that you have an idea of where companies go wrong, let’s look at some ways you can make the process of scaling a sales team go smoothly.
Stagger your hiring process
Rather than try to double or triple your sales team overnight, consider staggering your new hires. It is called “scaling,” after all.
This sort of slow and steady approach guarantees that you give new hires the individual attention that they deserve. Additionally, doing so can help you work out the kinks of onboarding as you continue to hire new talent.
Hire the best.
Learn how to hire a rockstar sales team with this sales recruiting handbook.
When in doubt, provide your reps with a final assessment
This principle applies to potential candidates and new hires alike.
Giving assessments during interviews is common practice to double-check that your reps know their stuff. Sales rep assessments such as roleplaying scenarios and mock responses can weed out subpar candidates and highlight top talent for your team.
On a related note, many companies hire new employees on a 90-day probationary or trial period (depending on your country and/or state). During this time, you should be able to document that your employees have made an effort to adapt to your company’s sale process. Through a final assessment or review, you can determine whether or not your hires are a good fit for the long-term.
Train your new hires consistently
In short, your first new sales rep should go through the same training process as your fifth or tenth hire.
Are you allowed to tweak your approach to onboarding over time? Absolutely. That said, your new hires should all have the same opportunities to settle into your sales process. Rushing or cutting corners in your training will only hurt their performance.
Set realistic quotas
Another quick tip, but definitely worth mentioning.
Context is critical when looking at your sales quotas. Be realistic in terms of what you expect from your new hires: it may take some time for them to adapt to your business.
Also, consider that Improving your sales quotas can help reduce turnover and improve morale among your reps. If nothing else, scaling a sales team represents a good time to double-check your quotas.
Track your team’s performance
Tracking your team’s sales performance guarantees a smooth transition for both current and new reps.
Reporting in Copper stacks your team members side-by-side to make sure everyone is on the same page performance-wise. Keeping an eye on your sales analytics can help detect bottlenecks and other problems that could be holding your team back.
Distribute your leads equally
All of your reps should be on a level playing field when it comes to the quality of their leads.
For example, your MQLs and leads who are most likely to convert shouldn’t be funneled exclusively to new or existing reps. Doing so punishes one group while potentially inflating the performance of the other.
How do you prevent this from happening, though? Consider resources such as Copper’s leads dashboard, which breaks down top-converting lead sources and assesses how leads are being assigned. Again, this helps put your reps’ performance into context as you look at your sales reports.
Practice patience with reps
Lastly, a little bit of patience with your reps can go a long way.
There is no magical “on” switch for scaling a sales team. As highlighted by this guide, sales and customer success growth comes with its own set of challenges.
Document them. Understand them. Just like adapting to a company is a learning experience for your new hires, scaling is a learning experience for budding businesses.
Are you equipped to scale up your sales team?
When your sales team is ready to expand, it might feel like a make-or-break moment.
Because sure, scaling a sales team can result in some major headaches.
It doesn’t have to, though.
When companies take a thoughtful, data-driven approach to scaling and managing, they set their new reps up for success.
And with the help of a sales CRM, you can remove so much of the guesswork behind scaling. From sales forecasting to individual reporting and beyond, you can better understand exactly what your company needs to do next as it grows.