Building a sales team that will get your company to $1M in revenue

July 31, 2020

When it comes to building a sales team and setting up an effective sales process, everyone does things differently. But there a few awesome examples that deserve a more thorough analysis just because of the lessons they can provide.

In this article, you're about to receive real-life tactics that will help you achieve two crucial outcomes:

  • build a sales team that will execute like crazy
  • put a sales process in place that will help you hit $1M in revenue

… and with limited resources!

All the advice comes from two guys who have done it themselves.

  • Scott Leese, 6x Startup Sales Leader and CEO at Surf & Sales
  • Alfie Marsh, Head of US Sales at Spendesk

How to hire the right talent for your sales team?

It's crucial to find and hire the right sales talent to grow and scale. But is there the right way to do it?

This was the first question that we asked Scott Leese, CEO at Surf & Sales.

“You have to hire people who are capable of wearing a bunch of different hats and doing more. People, who have a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit so they're not waiting to be told what to do, they see a need and fill a need.”

According to Scott, one of the things you can do is to learn about their hobbies and interests outside of work like what people do in their free time.

This approach can help you understand if the person is:

  1. a self-starter, someone who will take the initiative
  2. motivated to learn and do different things without being told to

Your team needs to be agile and act as a pocketknife. Scott is confident that you need to avoid bringing people who are able to do one thing only.

Alfie Marsh, Head of US Sales at Spendesk, thinks hiring is probably one of the biggest bottlenecks for a fast-growing company.

To find the best candidate you have to be very clear with the scorecard of what makes someone successful in outbound sales. But also, be very clear about being able to find those characteristics within the interview process.You can use recruitment software to find a perfect fit for your company.

Alfie believes that characteristics such as curiosity and ownership are extremely important. 👇

The question is... what's the best way to uncover these characteristics?

Alfie suggests asking this question:

“Can you tell me about the biggest failure you've ever had in your life?”

After the answer, you can ask more about a case of what were the reasons for the failure and then hear whether this person took ownership and learned from that experience.

To recap everything mentioned by two sales maestros, the pillars of your hiring strategy are these:

  • Search for proactive people, who don’t just announce the problem, but fix it
  • You want to hire salespeople with a diverse set of skills,  Search for people who are eager to do not only one thing, but open to learn and implement something new
  • Your sales team should consist of people who are not afraid to take ownership, make mistakes, but then learn how not to make them a habit

How to onboard new sales team members?

Hiring the right person is only half of the job.

You have to think in advance how you will onboard your new sales reps. But keep in mind that every person is unique, so the person accountable for onboarding needs to be able to inspire the people next to him/her and help them crush it.

Scott explains that the best way to onboard people is to give them the ability to learn in a lot of different ways. For example...

  1. Research, study, analyze
  2. Role play
  3. Conduct tests where people will be asked questions (e.g. product features)

All these different modalities allow different types of learners to find a style that suits them the best.

“I think the right thing to do is to have conversations with each individual and try to provide them the support that feels right for them.

So if someone says “leave me alone for an hour and let me try to figure this out” then you leave that person alone. But if they say “I’d love to have somebody on my calls from the beginning” then you support them that way.”

Another thing that Scott thinks is crucial is to record people's calls because this is the most efficient way to provide example-based feedback. Help them identify areas where they can improve and habits that they probably don’t notice they’re doing.

Give them tips on how they can make their meetings more productive. It's also a really good way for sales reps to learn on their own and do some self-assessment.

How to build a sales process?

According to Scott, one of the main reasons why so many companies fail is the lack of a sales strategy.

As a founder or head of sales who is just in the middle of creating a sales team - you have to take everything that you have in your brain and put it on paper.

From what your product does to how a cold call and email copy should look like.

All these things should be written down in your sales playbook. Give this to your sales reps as a learning resource and a good starting point.

To get the better idea, here is what can be included in your playbook, with comments from Scott and Alfie.

  • Ideal customer profile

Start with a hypothesis and don't overthink it too much. Set a list of segments that could be a good fit, test it and analyze results. Your ICP will evolve while you receive more data.

You can also check this guide on how to create it.

  • Market positioning

Focus on market conditions, comparative strengths, and weaknesses.

  • Sales methodology

On the webinar, Scott shared his methodology of selling through " The Addiction Model". According to him, to start pitching the product you need:

1) Get somebody to admit that they have a problem
2) Get them to understand that solving this problem is important
3) Make them agree that there's an urgency to solve it

Think your sales funnel through

For example, our lemlist funnel lies on three pillars. In this article, we talk about them in great details. And also think about optimizing this process with CRMs and Field Sales Managment Software.

  • Sales cadences and scripts

Scott likes having sales scripts. Before a meeting, he suggests visualizing how the perfect sales conversation looks like, writing it down and keeping it in front of you during the call.

Finally, both Scott and Alfie agree that the goal is not to turn your sales team in robots that blindly follow a script.

The idea is to have formulas and framework in place, but to leave enough room for people to play on their cards as well.

Biggest sales mistakes and how to avoid them

Everybody makes mistakes. You do it, your sales team does it. The trick is not to make a habit of it.

We asked Scott and Alfie to share the most common mistakes sales reps usually make and how they prepare their teams to avoid those pitfalls.

1) Don’t fall in love with the product

Pitch the value and not the features. Scott suggests cutting the list of all cool things your product does to 3-4 main things that matter the most to your customer.

2) Don’t show the product before talking about pain

“I will be happy to show you the product but right now I’d really like to understand what challenges you have” - this is the question that you can use.

Alfie also added this one... “ Why have you decided to do something about this now instead of two months ago?”

According to him, this will help you understand the situation better before you send your business proposal.

3) Be specific about the agenda

Always talk about the next steps and be clear with the agenda. If you are planning a subsequent call, you ought to set a date and time when it will be.

If someone says that they are not sure or there are other people that have to be involved on the next meeting, Alfie suggests to propose to put a placeholder in both calendars, and then check two days before whether it still works.

If not, reschedule.

4) Don’t upsell during the demo

“If the prospect doesn't have the money for the premium plan and starts thinking the basic plan is bad cause you told them the premium one is the best...

... they won’t take the basic one and they'll probably just disappear”.

Close the deal once you hear that somebody is a good fit for a particular plan.

Want co check more Q&A sessions and interviews with sales pros? 👉 Click here.

[Bonus] Cold email tips that will increase your reply rate

Once you've done your research and have figured out your ideal customer profile, it's time to book some meetings and boost that revenue.

There are different channels you can use to get in touch with your prospects and motivate them to book a call with you.

We prefer cold emails. 😅

So just wanted to add a cherry on the top of this article with 9 short videos that will bring 🔥 cold email hacks to your world...

... and make your reply rate go nuts.

Check out the full video here!

And in case you need help with cold email templates, I have just the thing for you.

Bottom line

All pieces of advice shared by Alfie and Scott in this article are based on their own experience that helped them reach fantastic results like growing to $1M in a year in Alfie's case and go from zero paying customers and no revenue to capturing ~15% market share in 3 years if we're talking about Scott.

But it takes time and practices to hit these milestones.

The main message here is... they all started from somewhere, before they were able to pop the champagne. ❤️

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