The ultimate goal when building a sales force is to surpass revenue projections and build a team that can withstand years of positive revenue growth. To do this effectively, companies have to build a repeatable process that adds new sales talent to the team. So how do you build a sustainable sales force?
1. Set accurate expectations- Set expectations as early in the interview process as possible and cover everything. Understand that strong sales candidates will ask good questions and want to understand the realistic vision for the company. Strong candidates want a strong company that offers a sustainable future. First, understand the most important and basic information that talented sales professionals want to know? Second, set expectations around those key points.
2. Time Frame – Talented sales professionals always have other companies interested in them. That means you should always take a competitive stance when hiring talented sales employees. Urgency is the key. If you have developed a quick process then set expectations at the start explaining that it moves quickly. Explain the steps and timeline to making a hire. This will relieve discomfort for a candidate and will not scare them off at the offer stage. If your process is long then set expectations so that the candidate is prepared for the long haul. Don't lose a candidate because they lose confidence in your company's ability to make a hiring decision. The point, communicate well and make sure all candidates understand how your process works. They will have plenty of time either way to do their research and decide if your company meets their requirements.
3. Compensation – Set accurate expectations around base salary and on target earnings. Sales professionals want to understand what a realistic W2 is for year one and year two. Don't over sell your compensation plan. This is not a long-term strategy to building depth or sustainable growth. The number one reason sales candidates start to look for a new opportunity is because they don't believe in their compensation plan. Inaccurate on target earnings may appease your sales force for the first year but expect to create a revolving door over time. This is a short-term strategy that does not build world class sales organizations. Set accurate compensation goals and retain your sales force for many years to come.
4. Consistent Message – Great candidates are not naive. They understand that all new opportunities come with risk. This means that it is important to have your entire team delivering the same consistent message. It is more important to not only talk about the great things about your company but in fact discuss the challenges you face as a team. Talented sales people are not fearful of challenges. They are comfortable and are not afraid to face obstacles head on. A consistent message to set expectations for new hires around the challenges they will face is critical. All companies have challenges and if not disclosed early on expect excuses and discontent as time passes. This will affect turnover and limit the ability to build depth, consistent headcount and revenue growth.
These are a few critical factors when setting expectations with your team. When building a sale force treat your team as you would like to be treated. Use an honest consistent message so that all expectations are set accurately. Sales teams are happy when they understand what is happening around them. They are the most happy when a job well done is recognized and rewarded monetarily and appreciated. More importantly they will believe in a great vision and look forward to another great year.