From Startup to Enterprise: Strategies for Scaling Your Sales Team

Regardless of the industry or the products sold, the end goal of nearly all businesses can be boiled down into one word — growth. You want to go from a fledgling startup just finding its footing to a profitable, well-established company with a solid slice of the market. While countless factors contribute to achieving this growth, a big one is effectively scaling your sales team.

Unfortunately, the odds for new startups aren’t great, as only 10% succeed in successfully scaling their business. However, if you can get it right, you should be well-positioned, because businesses that successfully scale up see an average revenue increase of 40-60%.

On that note, here’s a step-by-step process you can follow to scale your sales team and go from startup to enterprise.

Build a Strong Technological Infrastructure

Whether your sales team is 100% in-house, 100% remote, or a hybrid, you need the right tech stack. This helps your teams do their jobs more efficiently, be more productive, collaborate better, and provide the best possible customer experience.

When you’re at the initial startup stages, it’s crucial that you build a strong technological foundation from the start — one that meets your current needs as you gain initial momentum and one that’s capable of growing along with you over the years.

While the specific needs of each business can vary, some of the primary types of tech you usually need are a CRM platform, meeting and demo scheduling software, customer engagement tools, resource management software, and something for handling proposals and contracts. To simplify things, here’s a table that breaks down popular options for each category by each stage of growth.

Develop a Sales Talent Pipeline

Let’s be honest. Turnover is going to happen.

Studies have found that the average sales turnover rate can be as high as 35%, which is nearly three times the average for all professions at around 13%.

Like it or not, sales is an inherently high-turnover career. No matter how great your company is to work for and how far you go to retain top talent, unfortunately, turnover is going to happen. Without a process in place to “reload” when salespeople leave, scaling your sales team is going to be an uphill battle.

That’s why it’s so important to develop a streamlined system that allows you to quickly replace lost reps with talented new ones. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t work diligently to reduce turnover and twiddle your thumbs while rockstar reps walk out. But you should have a realistic game plan in place when salespeople inevitably leave at some point.

I find the best way to do this is to build a talent pipeline through techniques like:

  • Enhancing your brand
  • Creating a dedicated careers page on your website
  • Building your social media presence
  • Creating an employee referral program

We actually wrote an entire blog post that discusses the concept of a sales talent pipeline in detail, which you can find here. That’s a great starting point and can help you get the ball rolling.

Leverage Sales Automation

One of the biggest drains on a salesperson’s time is non-selling activities like handling emails and inputting customer data. These tasks can be tedious and time-consuming and take away from a rep’s ability to focus on more important activities like engaging with leads and closing deals.

What’s crazy is that Salesforce reports that “sales reps spend 66% of their time on non-selling activities.” And “in light of these responsibilities, 57% of reps expect to miss their quota.”

Needless to say, if your sales team is bogged down with burdensome, redundant tasks like these, it’s going to minimize their impact. And long term, this can be extremely detrimental to scaling your sales team and growing your business.

Fortunately, there are a ton of repetitive tasks that can be largely automated without skipping a beat.

Here are some examples.

  • Automated email reply tools
  • Automated data entry on CRM platforms
  • Lead scoring tools to automatically score leads
  • Online meeting scheduling software that allows leads to set up meetings

If you haven’t been using sales automation yet, now is the perfect time to get on board.

Stop Wasting Time on Unqualified Leads

One major hindrance to closing deals and business growth is sending unqualified leads to your sales team. And this is a bigger issue than you may think, considering that one study found that only 25% of leads are legitimate and should advance to sales.

While the definition of a qualified vs. unqualified lead can vary, for simplicity’s sake, I’m referring to “qualified” leads as sales qualified leads (SQLs), which “have been qualified, vetted, and expressed intent to engage in a sales cycle.”

Marketing qualified leads (MQLs), on the other hand, are more likely to buy than other leads but are still higher up in the sales funnel in either the awareness or interest stage. MQLs may become SQLs in the future, but they’re not scorching hot and likely still need some nurturing before being passed off to sales.

By having a clear understanding of which leads are SQLs and which are MQLs, you’ll be in a much better position to supply your sales team with the best of the best leads. In turn, this makes their jobs easier, and they can make more conversions, which should help grow your business quicker.

The question is, “How do you effectively qualify leads?”

It usually starts with creating your ideal customer profile (ICP), so you have a clear understanding of who you want to send to sales. And, as I touched on earlier, lead scoring tools can be incredibly helpful for objectively assessing a lead’s odds of buying through quantifiable data.

A simple example would be assigning points based on actions like visiting your pricing page, opening an email, and downloading content.

While this doesn’t always tell the entire story, it’s a reliable way of giving each lead a score so you know who’s ready to be sent to sales and who still needs nurturing.

Scaling Your Sales Team From the Ground Up

Confidently scaling your sales team and growing your business requires a well-defined, systematic process that you can build upon as you go. Although every company’s game plan will look a little different, the strategies outlined above should cover the essentials and spark noticeable, sustained growth.

When it comes to finding top talent to add to your sales force, HireDNA can be a huge help. It uses a data-driven, scientific approach to finding elite salespeople that can take your business to the next level. Register today and build an all-star team with HireDNA.

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Evaluating Cultural Fit in SaaS Sales Recruiting: Beyond the Resume

Skillset, industry experience, a proven track record, communication. These are some of the main factors SaaS sales recruiters look at when assessing candidates. And they’re all incredibly important. But there’s another vital factor that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves — cultural fit.

What is Cultural Fit?

This refers to how well a SaaS sales candidate fits in with your team from a cultural standpoint and can include sharing the same goals, values, attitudes, and working style. When someone is a good cultural fit it increases the chances of them meshing well with your existing team for better collaboration and overall harmony within your organization.

Conversely, if someone isn’t a good cultural fit it’s like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. If their goals, values, attitudes, etc., don’t align with the rest of your teams, there’s almost guaranteed to be friction right from the start.

Here are a few stats that shed light on the importance of cultural fit.

While choosing someone who’s a good cultural fit doesn’t guarantee success, it’s extremely important for retention and profitability. In fact, “The result of poor culture fit due to turnover can cost an organization between 50-60% of the person’s annual salary,” Forbes reports. When this happens at scale it can quickly erode your overall foundation.

With that said, here’s a straightforward way to evaluate cultural fit in SaaS sales recruiting to drastically increase your odds of making the right hire.

Write a Job Description That Reflects Your Company’s Culture

Technically, the first step is to define your company culture. But assuming you already know that, the first thing to do is ensure any job description you write clearly reflects what you’re looking for in a salesperson in terms of culture.

For instance, you may want to mention what your specific values are, what your day-to-day work environment is like, and what’s important for being successful in a role. Here’s a real-life example from Google where they mention their ideal salespeople have experience working and learning in a fast-moving, dynamic environment and have a passion for using Google products.

Making it clear what your culture is from the start should reduce the number of poor-fitting candidates who apply and save you time when narrowing down your candidate pool.

Create Cultural Fit Interview Questions

Perhaps the most crucial step in the process is asking SaaS sales candidates the right questions that specifically target cultural fit. Generally, this should consist of around five or so questions that allow you to gauge this with a reasonable amount of objectivity.

Here are some examples of basic questions to ask:

  • What’s your ideal working environment?
  • What are your core goals and values?
  • What’s your preferred management style?
  • Do you work better independently or as part of a team?
  • What motivates you to make sales?
  • What do you feel you need to succeed in a SaaS sales position?

And here’s a more detailed list that focuses on behaviors, attitudes, values, beliefs, and assumptions.

To ensure consistency, you’ll want to ask the same questions to every candidate you interview.

Compare a Candidate’s Answers with Your Culture

With each response, pay close attention to how well it fits in with your company’s culture. For instance, if being able to work well collaboratively as part of a group is critical to succeeding in your SaaS sales role, you would likely want a candidate who works better as part of a team rather than independently.

Or if some of your core values are passion, teamwork, and continual improvement, you would want a candidate’s responses to be similar. Just be sure that whoever handles recruiting understands what you’re looking for and listens for cues during their interactions.

Pay Attention to Personality and Character

Another part of the process is a bit trickier to analyze and isn’t something that can be done quantitatively. But paying attention to personality and character during interactions, from initial outreach, to interview scheduling, to the interview itself, is a great opportunity to assess cultural fit as well.

For example, during the first few moments when you’re meeting with a candidate and having a casual conversation, use it to get a feel for what their natural demeanor is like and if they seem like someone who would get along with your existing team.

Are they polite and courteous? Do they conduct themselves professionally? Are they a smooth conversationalist?

These are just a few things to consider during casual conversation and can add to the rest of the input you get from previous steps to determine overall cultural fit.

Be Careful of Bias

One last thing to note is that you should always be aware of the potential for bias and not let that cloud your judgment. While it’s impossible to eliminate bias 100%, it’s something that can be largely reduced by simply being aware of it.

Also, it’s helpful to get feedback from multiple team members when making the final hiring decision. I find that this tends to provide a clearer perspective on how good of a cultural fit a candidate is, and you’re less likely to fall into the bias trap when you get the opinions of multiple people.

Let’s Recap

One area of SaaS sales recruiting that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves is cultural fit. While it may not be quite as important as skillset and experience, it plays a significant role in how likely someone is to mesh with your team. To avoid premature turnover and other complications, it’s worthwhile to make assessing cultural fit part of your hiring process.

That way, whoever you hire should truly check all the boxes, and it greatly increases the odds of things working out for both parties.

If you’re looking to make your SaaS sales recruiting more accurate and predictive to find the best of the best talent, check out the Objective Management Group sales assessment. It can be fully customized to your unique selling environment, and 92% of candidates recommended by it go on to reach the top half of the sales force.

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7 Sales Sales Recruitment Mistakes and How to Fix Them

In the cutthroat world of sales, hiring the right people can mean the difference between skyrocketing success and abysmal failure. Yet, time and time again, companies find themselves stuck in a vicious cycle of hiring the wrong candidates. If you’ve been scratching your head wondering why your recruitment efforts keep falling short, fear not. You are not alone. Here are seven common mistakes you may be making, along with solutions:

Mistake 1: Not Defining Your Ideal Candidate

Research from LinkedIn reveals that companies with clearly defined candidate profiles are 28% more likely to attract top talent. However, many companies still struggle with vague job descriptions and unclear candidate criteria. Without a precise idea of who you are seeking, you are essentially taking shots in the dark, hoping to chance upon a suitable match. Take the time to pinpoint the essential traits, skills, and experiences your ideal sales candidate should possess. This will not only streamline your sales recruitment process but also enhance the chances of finding the right person for the job.

Mistake 2: Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen:

A study by Harvard Business Review indicates that involving too many individuals in the hiring process can significantly prolong the time it takes to fill a position, resulting in missed opportunities and increased expenses. When numerous decision-makers with conflicting agendas and criteria are involved, things can easily go awry. To prevent this, simplify your sales hiring process and ensure everyone is on the same page. Clearly define roles and responsibilities, establish transparent communication channels, and set expectations from the outset.

Mistake 3: Interview Process Taking Too Long

Time is of the essence, particularly when hiring top sales talent. Despite this, research by Glassdoor shows that the average interview process in the United States lasts 23.7 days. This extended timeline not only frustrates sales candidates but also raises the risk of losing them to competitors. Streamline your interview process by focusing on the most relevant criteria and eliminating unnecessary steps. Remember, quality outweighs quantity.

Mistake 4: Lack of Transparency

Transparency fosters trust, which is vital in any successful relationship, including the employer-employee dynamic. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 61% of candidates stated that a lack of transparency regarding salary and benefits would make them less inclined to accept a job offer. Be forthright and upfront about critical aspects of the job, such as expectations, salary, benefits, and opportunities for career advancement. This not only establishes clear expectations but also attracts candidates genuinely interested and aligned with your company values.

Mistake 5: Poor New-Hire Onboarding

The sales hiring process does not conclude once the offer letter is signed; in reality, that is just the beginning. Nevertheless, a report by Aberdeen Group reveals that 86% of new hires determine whether to stay or leave a company within the first six months. Without a structured onboarding process, new salespeople are left to navigate on their own, resulting in confusion, frustration, and ultimately, high turnover. Develop a comprehensive onboarding program that equips new hires with the training, resources, and support they need to hit the ground running.

Mistake 6: Unrealistic Expectations and Metrics

While metrics are crucial for evaluating sales performance, relying on unrealistic expectations and arbitrary metrics can be detrimental. According to research by CSO Insights, only 54.6% of sales reps meet or exceed their quotas. Instead of relying on guesswork and outdated metrics, take the time to define meaningful KPIs that accurately reflect success in your organization. Set realistic targets based on historical data and industry benchmarks, and adjust them as needed to ensure they remain relevant and attainable.

Mistake 7: Not Using a Sales Skills Assessment:

One of the biggest mistakes companies make in their sales hiring process is failing to assess candidates’ actual sales skills. According to a study by Objective Management Group, 92% of salespeople do not have the consultative selling skills to succeed in today’s market. Without a proper assessment, you’re essentially rolling the dice and hoping for the best.

Incorporating a sales skills assessment into your hiring process allows you to objectively evaluate candidates’ abilities in areas such as prospecting, presenting, closing deals, and handling objections. This not only ensures that you’re hiring candidates with the right skills for the job but also provides valuable insights for coaching and development once they’re onboard. By leveraging sales assessments, you can make more informed hiring decisions and build a high-performing sales team that drives results.

In conclusion, recruiting and hiring top sales talent is undoubtedly challenging, but it is achievable. By avoiding these common mistakes and embracing a more strategic and systematic approach to hiring, you can attract, retain, and empower the salespeople essential for your company’s success in today’s competitive landscape.

Looking for help recruiting top sales talent? HireDNA can create a digital profile of your ideal rep and sourced candidates who are the perfect match with 91% accuracy. Schedule a demo to learn more.

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The Science of Lead Qualification in Your Sales Process

Not all sales leads are created equal. Some have a strong intent to buy, while others are essentially just window shopping. To ensure you pursue the right leads, you need a proven lead qualification framework that helps you separate the wheat from the chaff.

In this post, I’ll discuss the science of lead qualification and walk you through a step-by-step process to quickly sort through leads and find the best of the best.

Create an Ideal Customer Profile

Before doing anything else, you’ll need to articulate exactly who you’re trying to reach with your sales and marketing. What does your ideal customer look like? What’s their budget? What are their pain points?

These are just a few of the questions you’ll need to find answers to. Upon finding these answers, this will guide the subsequent steps in the process so you’ll not only know what types of leads to aggressively pursue, but also which ones to back off on.

One of the easiest ways to identify your ideal customer is to create an ideal customer profile (ICP). Here’s a sample template to get you started.

After your ICP is fleshed out, you’re ready for the next step.

Use Lead Scoring To Assign a Numerical Value to Leads

Once you clearly understand who you’re trying to reach, as well as who isn’t a high-priority lead, I suggest using lead scoring. If you’re unfamiliar, lead scoring is a type of software that analyzes leads based on critical criteria and assigns them a numerical value.

Say, for instance, a lead visited your pricing page or submitted a form. They would be given a certain amount of points. Or, if someone performed an action that would lower their chances of converting, like unsubscribing from your email, they would receive a point deduction.

After a lead scoring software crunches all the numbers, each lead is given a quantifiable score.

In turn, you can objectively determine how qualified a lead is. For those who aren’t qualified, you can nurture them until they are qualified or scrap them altogether if need be. And for those who are qualified, you can go even more granular to see which ones have the highest scores, so you’ll know who to prioritize.

Say, for instance, one lead received a score of 85…

…and another lead received a 91.

You would want to make the one with a 91 a bigger priority than the one with an 85 because they’ve shown a stronger intent to buy. As long as this lead meets an adequate amount of ideal candidate profile criteria, they would be someone you would want to quickly pursue.

If you’re wondering about lead scoring platforms, one of my favorites is Active Campaign.

It’s simple and intuitive and lets you score leads on a wide variety of actions, including the following.

Besides that, it automatically notifies team members when you have a hot lead on your hands. And for those that reach a certain score but aren’t scorching hot, Active Campaign will initiate nurturing to warm them up. This brings us to our next point.

Break Leads Down into MQLs and SQLs

We’ve touched on the importance of distinguishing between warm and hot leads. But let’s dive a bit deeper.

One of the best ways to separate qualified leads further is by ranking each as either a:

  • Marketing qualified lead (MQL) — Someone who’s in the awareness or interest stage of the sales funnel
  • Sales qualified lead (SQL) – Someone who’s in the decision or action stage

While this, admittedly, could be seen as an oversimplification, it’s an effective way to determine who’s sales-ready and who needs some more time. MQLs get sent to your marketing team, and SQLs get sent to your sales team.

That way, you’re only focusing on the cream of the crop — something that’s almost guaranteed to maximize your conversion rate. Needless to say, this can spill over to benefit you in several other areas, including better marketing ROI, more sales, more revenue, and so on.

And if you’re dealing with a high volume of leads (which hopefully you are), breaking leads down into MQLs and SQLs can be huge for streamlining lead distribution.

Use Analytics and Feedback to Further Improve Your Process

While some level of intuition may be helpful in lead qualification, I find that objective data tends to have the biggest impact. After implementing the three steps mentioned above and giving it some time for data to accumulate, I suggest using a mix of analytics and human feedback to see what’s working and what needs fine-tuning.

The simplest way to go about this is to look at your overall conversion rate. If it’s higher than what you expected, the current system is working and probably doesn’t need much tinkering. However, if it’s underwhelming, you’ll need to make some adjustments, which may include updating your ideal candidate profile or being more rigorous with who qualifies as an SQL rather than an MQL.

Also, getting direct feedback from your sales team can be extremely helpful. Because they’re in the trenches, they can tell you firsthand if there are any hiccups in your lead qualification process that need to be addressed.

Getting Lead Qualification Down to a Science

Whatever industry you’re in, the goal is the same. Find the leads who are the most likely to convert into customers and pursue them above lesser-qualified leads.

Doing this effectively boils down to three main steps — creating an ideal candidate profile, using lead scoring to give each lead a concrete value, and breaking leads down into MQLs and SQLs. That way, you can proceed with relative certainty that the leads you route to sales have a strong likelihood of buying.

And by making iterative improvements over time, you’ll only get better and better.

To find top-tier salespeople who can close more of the leads you send their way, use HireDNA to build an all-star team.