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How to Build a Sales Team From Scratch

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The sales team is an integral part of any organization. The basic share of profit for a business is brought in by the sales team which is crucial for the success of any business.

When starting a new business, you are likely handling all the operations by yourself — from setting the strategies to supervising the infrastructure. After some time, you need to have an efficient team of individuals that you can fall back on for your day-to-day selling activities.

Considering the critical role of the sales team, it is important that you put in the time and effort to hire the right team for the job. But if you aren’t sure where to begin, let us help you with the following tips:

11 Steps to Build a Sales Team from the Ground Up

1. Look Around For Help

Before starting an aggressive search for the right candidates, consider looking around for some help in this regard. At times referrals turn out to be the best source of finding good employees. Ask your friends, ex-coworkers and whoever else you think can help you with the search.

2. If You Are a Newbie, Do the Research

If you have no previous experience with building a sales team, consider seeking expert help from different resources. There are multiple books available that can give you an idea of how you can start building an efficient sales team.

“Predictable Revenue” by Aaron Ross is one good example of a book in the “sales” space that you can read to acquire insightful knowledge about building a sales team.

3. Make the Most of the Personal Interview

When you spread the word that you are looking for salespeople, you will likely get tons of applicants. But if you want to hire the best talent, you need to have the right set of questions to ask in the personal interview.

Ask Yourself: “Is this person coachable?” – There are a lot of people who think on the basis of their past sales experience, no matter how much things have changed. To tell the truth, these are the kind of people you might want to avoid since they will likely resort to outdated methods that don’t work any longer.

Ask Your Candidate: “Sell me this pen or bottle of water” – This is the most effective and quickest way to evaluate the selling skills of a potential candidate. Be vigilant of the important indicators, can they think on their toes, can they improvise and how good are they with head-on challenges.

Ask Your Candidate: “Share any story from the time where you demonstrated an entrepreneurial flair.” – This will give you an idea about how efficient are they to win major plus points.

4. Knowledge Vs. Experience

This is an important aspect that you need to look out for in salespeople. It is always a safer bet to hire an individual who has less experience in sales but knows a product far better than the others.

5. Fire as Fast as You Can

The hiring process is tricky and you might end up hiring the wrong person for a job. Once you realize it, you should not take much time to rectify your mistake. People say that “time is money” but I say “time is a deal killer”.

6. Gear Up Your Team With the Right Tools

To make sure that your team succeeds, it is necessary to use certain tools to keep everyone working in an efficient manner. Some of them are:

7. Metrics Are Important to Hold People Accountable

It is very important to establish KPIs that the entire team understands and follows. This way you can ask your team to send you a daily or weekly summary of their sales stats. This way, you will be able to keep tabs on the performance of your team and pinpoint any loopholes in a timely manner.

8. Assign a Ramp Up Period

Give your salespeople a target date to ramp up to their quota. This will give them a structured timeframe and expectations can be set accordingly.

9. Compensation

Will it be a commission-based job or will you give a base salary?

This is the question that every salesperson asks at the time of hiring. Is it feasible to pay a base salary or is a commission-based model that gives a strong incentive to the worker to bring in more deals, the better option for you?

10. Ensure Effective Communication with the Team

Your job does not end after the hiring process ends. In fact, you need to communicate daily with your team in order to ensure a smooth working relationship. When the entire team communicates on the daily basis, you will be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your sales team. Here are some of the simple ways you can communicate with your team:

  • Send emails to your team every day
  • Conduct team meetings on weekly basis
  • Get weekly/monthly summaries of sales
  • Ask what their biggest opportunities they are working on in the morning and in the afternoon ask about the hurdles that they faced

11. Training Sessions Will Make Your Team Stronger

To keep your team competitive in the market, you need to keep them up-to-date with the latest trends and technology. You need to keep them educated on the current practices every now and then.

When you put time and efforts into the training of your team, they will be more than happy to learn new things and will give their best shot to increase sales. Here are some of the ways you can train your staff:

  • Roleplaying – This is the standard way of training in many organizations. A trainee is put in a real life scenario in which the trainer provides the feedback later.
  • Call Shadowing – Trainees will listen to real calls and learn from them.
  • Screencasts – Just like the tutorial resources, it is used for team members to watch tips on how to pitch products, make use of tools and how to use different selling techniques.
  • Books – There are multiple books that can be distributed among the team to increase their knowledge.

9 Critical Hiring Mistakes to Avoid When Building a Sales Team

Hiring the right sales team is critical to the success of any business.

Just one bad hire could result in lower morale in the sales department, financial losses due to extra training and other negative consequences. On top of that, if you find yourself frequently hiring salespeople who end up leaving the company quickly, you will have to deal with the high costs of employee turnover.

So what can you do to avoid making serious mistakes during the hiring process?

Read on to find out how you can build a strong sales team and feel more confident in every hiring decision you make.

1. Talking too much during the interview

As the hiring manager, you may feel tempted to spend most of the interview telling a candidate all about your company.

While it is good to make sure the candidate is well-informed and understands what it is like to work at your company, you should never talk more than he does. Make sure the candidate has plenty of time to answer your questions and elaborate on his answers as much as needed.

2. Failing to use the right hiring tools

Hiring tools like sales personality tests and assessments can help you make better decisions every time you need to hire a new salesperson.

Sales assessments eliminate the guesswork in hiring and reveal exactly what you need to know about each candidate. For example, The DriveTest® assesses the 3 non-teachable traits that Driven salespeople possess:

  • Need for Achievement
  • Competitiveness
  • Optimism

Since Drive is the #1 indicator of a top performer in the sales department, it is easy to see how this test could help you build a strong sales team and pay for itself in the form of high-performing new hires.

3. Asking the wrong interview questions

You may be familiar with the saying, “By failing to plan, you are planning to fail.”

That certainly applies to the sales interview process. If you do not prepare the right interview questions ahead of time, there is a good chance that you will fail to hire the right salesperson.

Here are some examples of questions you can ask to uncover a candidate’s potential:

  • “What motivates you to succeed in sales?” While money is a good motivator for salespeople, it should not be a salesperson’s only motivator. Listen for signs that the candidate is passionate about his/her job.
  • “Can you describe a time you overcame a major obstacle at work?” It is a good idea to hire salespeople who are resilient and optimistic – they will be able to bounce back from sales challenges quickly.
  • “What is your process for handling customer objections?” Asking this will allow you to get an idea of the candidate’s sales process and determine whether it is effective.

Read this blog post to learn more about these questions and discover 7 more questions you should ask each candidate during the sales interview process.

4. Only conducting an in-person interview

Think about it – your salespeople need to know how to talk to customers on the phone if they want to sell effectively. What better way to learn about their phone skills than for you to give them a call?

On top of that, a quick phone interview can save you from wasting your time at an in-person interview with a candidate who is a poor fit for your sales team. That way, you can spend more time interviewing strong candidates and make better hiring decisions.

5. Failing to get a second opinion on the candidate

When you are the only person who interviews a candidate, you may make a biased decision and hire him solely because you enjoyed his personality. This mistake is common among sales hiring managers – likely because salespeople know how to sell themselves in an interview and make a great first impression, regardless of whether or not they are actually a good fit for the job.

To combat this issue, bring in someone else who can give you a second opinion on the candidate. For best results, you may want to get a second opinion from someone whose personality and preferences differ from yours. That way, you can consider the other person’s feedback and use it to help you build a strong sales team.

6. Focusing on the wrong candidate attributes

Think about it – which of the following candidates would you hire?

  • A salesperson who does not seem Driven but has a flawless resume and years of experience
  • A salesperson who is clearly Driven but does not have relevant experience

If you would hire the first candidate, you should reconsider your approach to building a strong sales team.

Remember, Drive is the #1 indicator of a salesperson who can achieve top results and it cannot be taught. However, anyone can gain relevant industry knowledge and basic sales techniques with proper practice and training. That is why you must prioritize Drive over any other candidate attribute.

On top of that, you should not automatically assume that a strong, outgoing personality is indicative of sales skills – introverts can be just as good as (or better than) extroverts at selling.

7. Failing to take culture fit into account

All too often, hiring managers fall into the trap of hiring a candidate who meets every requirement other than culture fit. That is a mistake and it often results in the candidate leaving the company, which contributes to the high cost of employee turnover.

To build a strong sales team, make sure you are upfront about the company culture with every salesperson you hire. That way, you can accurately gauge whether or not they will be the right fit.

Sure, you may lose some potential candidates this way, but those candidates probably would have left the company on their own soon after being hired anyway.

8. Failing to check candidate references

Checking a candidate’s references is necessary. Doing so can mean the difference between a good hiring decision and a bad one.

A reference will be able to tell you what it is like to work with the candidate in ways that you may not be able to uncover during an interview alone.

Make sure you check the references yourself and avoid allowing an assistant or anyone else to handle it for you. The hassle will be well worth the ability to find out what you need to know about a candidate.

9. Failing to track and change the hiring process when necessary

Chances are, there is some aspect of your hiring process that can be improved. That is why you must analyze your current process to determine what is working and what is not.

Do not be afraid to try different ways of changing your sales hiring process for the better – especially if you are stuck in a pattern of hiring low-performing salespeople. Once you figure out the best hiring process for your company, you should be able to choose better salespeople for your team and improve your overall sales as a result.

2 Simple, Yet Overlooked, Ways to Build a High-Performing Sales Team


Having a strong sales team is absolutely necessary to the success of any sales manager, director or VP.

Therefore, it seems only natural that when it comes to building your sales team, you cannot simply rely on the luck of the draw—you need to have a strategic plan in place to find and hire the right salespeople.

With that in mind, let us explore a couple of ways you can build the ideal sales team.

1. Look for candidates with the key traits that support a successful sales team.

Some of these traits include:

Need for Achievement.

With every successful salesperson, there needs to be a driving force to make it through the grind and every day challenges. The Need to Achieve is that driving force, as this is what keeps the members of your sales team motivated. Additionally, people with the desire to achieve more tend to serve as motivation for others.

A sense of Competitiveness.

Every sales team should have a healthy sense of Competitiveness. This is important because a sales team that is on its toes and eager to win challenges really wants to beat out competitors while crushing previous sales goals.

A strong desire for career advancement.

If a member of your sales team is content to stay in one level of their career that may mean they do not have the inner Drive necessary to be a high-performing salesperson. Look to add members to your team that are goal-driven and looking forward to their future. When members of your sales team strive to get better at what they do for the chance of career advancement, it will help them and your company become more successful.

A genuine sense of Optimism.

Aside from a strict work ethic, you should look for sales candidates that display a sense of Optimism. Things do not always go according to plan, so having sales reps who know how to look past minor setbacks and continue working hard is a huge benefit for your team. When you have reps who show an optimistic outlook on life, they tend to look toward the future instead of letting their past failures negatively affect them.

The ability to set aside their pride and learn from others.

Pride can get in the way of a salesperson’s career, especially if they refuse to ask for help or do not want to learn from others. In the world of sales, learning is a continuing process, and it should be a priority for your sales team to grow and learn as much as they can. Look to add new members who are eager to learn and encourage existing sales reps to look to others with more experience for help with improving their skills.

The willingness to help others.

Although the sales process can seem like an individual process at times, sales is a team sport. As new sales reps are welcomed into your sales team, it is important for your existing sales reps to serve as mentors for new members. This will not only allow your team to grow at a more rapid rate—it will display your sales reps’ leadership abilities.

2. Monitor your sales team’s progress and define success.

In order to build a high-performing sales team, you must clearly define what success means for your team and your company.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that sales success is factored through the behavior and results of your team, not just one or the other.

When you focus only on sales activity, closing becomes less of a priority. Likewise, if you only focus on your sales reps’ results, it could be discouraging to your team in the event of a sales drought.

To help you measure your team’s sales performance, here are a few performance indicators you should pay attention to:

Lead Response Times

Ask yourself:

“How quickly are my salespeople responding to incoming leads?

When sales prospects are involved, time is of the essence and your reps must act quickly in order to improve their chances of success.

According to statistics, a rep is 100 times less likely to make contact with a lead if they wait to call 30 minutes after receiving a submission. After that, the odds of reaching that lead drop by up to 3000 times!

Make sure your team is responding to leads immediately in order to maximize their chances of converting a lead.

Average Call Duration

A major part of the sales process involves developing a connection with clients and prospects.

When it comes to phone calls, your salespeople could be spending too much time with a client. On the flip side, they may not be dedicating enough time to them.

Keep track of your sales reps’ call durations to help you identify who is underperforming and why they are missing their quotas.

Social Media

This is a tough indicator to keep track of, but it is extremely beneficial to your sales team.

High-performing sales reps are often active on social media, especially LinkedIn ─ a great resource for connecting with leads.

This can be tied back to sales reps with a sense of achievement and enthusiasm, as they are willing to go above and beyond what is generally required from salespeople.

One way to keep track of this is to check your reps’ sales and/or CRM notes to see if they have logged any time into prospecting through social media.

Final Thoughts

In the end, building a high-performing sales team from scratch requires finding the right people to join your team and encouraging them to succeed as they follow their career goals.

It also involves defining what success means for your company and sales team, and then measuring that success so you can continue to push boundaries and set new goals.

Are you ready to build a powerful sales team?

Request a free trial of The DriveTest® for a salesperson you are interviewing and see if they have the Drive it takes to be a high producer in sales

Sales Hiring Simplified!

Hire top-performing salespeople with The DriveTest®. Get started now with one free test.

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Sales Hiring Simplified!

Hire top-performing salespeople with The DriveTest®.

Get started now with one free test.

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