The success of your sales team determines the success of your whole business. After all, without new business coming in, any company will eventually start to fall apart.

If you’re building a sales team in order to grow your business, an SMB sales strategy can be the trickiest thing to get right. You’ve got to plan and create the opportunity for growth, without doing too much too soon. It’s therefore not surprising that many managers find it hard to reach the right balance in their strategy.

Defining Scalability in Sales

So, what are you hoping to achieve when building a sales team? Scalability should be high on that list. But what does a scalable sales team look like? 

  • A team and sales process which can cope with more prospects entering the pipeline
  • A team that can crank up the sales activity when needed – without breaking the pipeline, or having a negative impact on win rate or pipeline velocity
  • A training and hiring programme that allows you to quickly add to your team
  • A team which can grow in a cost-effective way, based on sales metrics such as cost-per-lead

I was fortunate enough to sit down with Global sales leader Matt Tuson, EVP Sales from NewVoiceMedia, during the recent CeBit in Hannover, to get his thoughts on how to define scalability in sales. Matt knows a thing or two about scaling sales teams, with NewVoiceMedia outperforming the rapidly expanding cloud customer contact market fivefold and last year grew its international new business by 528%.

Ten Essential Tips for Building a Successful and Scalable Sales Team

Here are Matt's top ten tips that you can use to ensure your sales team is ready to grow your business – and grow as a team at the same time.

1. Hire right – choose the same successful sales person every time

When building a sales team, most companies like to hire mainly on “gut feeling”, but the problem is that this process is not scalable. There’s no way of repeating this on a larger scale and quantifying it. Develop a process of scoring applicants – an article on HBR recommends focusing on prior success, intelligence, work ethic and coach-ability.

2. Train new hires in a consistent, measurable way

You not only have to make the way you hire new employees measurable, but the way you train them too. Beyond measurable, training needs to be consistent so that everyone starts with the same information and goals.

Too often ‘training’ is just shadowing someone who has been there a while. And depending on who you pick, you could get a completely different training programme. To build a successful sales team, you need a comprehensive training programme that you can repeat, time and time again.

3. Align sales and marketing

To be truly effective as a business, you can’t afford to have two departments working independently (or worse, against each other - see amusing video below!). It’s essential that sales and marketing work together – with marketing generating a certain quantity of high quality leads each month, and sales looking to close a certain amount of leads per month. You shouldn't completely rely on marketing either. Sales needs to generate leads too but by working together you avoid duplication of effort and can pull different lead generation levers when needed.

4. Work leads with the same process every time

Consistency is key in ensuring your team is scalable – from hiring to the actual on-the-job processes. You should establish a best practice at your business for what tends to work best by analysing your team and the data in your CRM. For instance, how often should you call a prospect per month? What is the right balance between quantity and quality?

5. Ensure your CRM allows you to grow

Too often businesses are confined by out-of-date software, which doesn’t allow them to easily update their processes or grow their team. Cloud CRM solutions allow you to only pay for what you need, so that you can scale up and down with ease. Plus, you’ll always be using the latest version, so that you can stay competitive.

6. Encourage remote working 

If businesses aren’t confined by the limitations of their software, they’re often confined by the physical boundaries of their office space. But with mobile technology and cloud-based SaaS, there’s no need to be confined by a firewall perimeter.

Encouraging remote working is a great way to expand your team, but not your office space, allowing you to grow easily and at your own pace.

7. Engage employees in their work to keep key talent

It’s hard to grow as a business if all your star performers leave, and your core staff aren’t engaged in their job. To make your business scalable, you might want to consider employee engagement tools such as NewVoiceMedia's Motivate solution for Salesforce. Gamification is a way to not only encourage the right behaviors and processes as mentioned above, but it keeps employees engaged with immediate feedback and a healthy sense of competition.

8. Hire overqualified sales reps at the early stages of a start-up

One tip from David Baga, Chief Business Officer at Honor is that start-ups looking to grow should hire a small team of reps who are overqualified for their job description. Hire people who are excited about this new venture and who can develop a repeatable, scalable and profitable model before you build a larger team.

9. Encourage peer mentoring 

If your team is going to grow, you need to encourage a collaborative atmosphere. Individual ambition is great for pushing sales people to close sales, but a sense of collaboration is essential for the business as a whole to grow.

10. Look to the future

While you can’t predict the future, a sales manager should be able to get a sense of what’s coming and how to prepare. To ensure this is possible, your sales team needs to be using your CRM to its full potential, so that you can have an accurate pipeline for forecasting.

Thanks again to Matt for his valubable input and tips. If you're still hungry for more, you can check out this 25 tips for growing your business e-book.