Is your sales team underperforming? Are you thinking about hiring more salespeople to meet the new business numbers your company needs?
Adding more salespeople to your team seems like the obvious solution to low performance, but before you start hiring sales reps, take a hard look at what you already have.
Chances are, what you need is a better strategy for utilizing your current team, not more salespeople.
Why Not Just Hire More Salespeople?
Have you heard of the 80/20 principle?
It is the idea that 80% of an effect is created by only 20% of the cause. The 80/20 principle tends to hold true for sales teams, which means that about 20% of your sales team is likely responsible for 80% of your sales.
You might think that the most lucrative method for maximizing sales would be to focus on motivating the low-performing 80% of your team but, surprisingly, the opposite is true.
If instead, you focus on clearing the way for your top performers to maximize their time, you will see a much greater return on your investment of time and money than if you spent your efforts on attempting to help the 80% at the bottom catch up to those at the top.
Still, you might be thinking, I should just hire a few more salespeople and hope that 20% of those new sales hires will turn out to be top performers, and my numbers will go up proportionally.
Truthfully, you could do that, but hiring sales reps can be expensive and risky, plus it takes time to see returns on the investment in new hires because they have to complete onboarding and learn a whole new system of operating.
All in all, adding salespeople to your team should be your last step, after taking all the steps you can to maximize your current team’s productivity.
What Should I Do Instead?
Identify top performers.
Take a look at your numbers. It is likely that one or two salespeople are leading the rest of your team by a large margin.
Make these team members your priority as you determine what strategic changes you can make to their responsibilities and your sales structure for maximum productivity.
Meet with your sales stars and find out what motivates them to perform, what gets in the way of sales and how to help them make as much time as possible to exercise their strengths.
Stop wasting time.
Is your top performing salesperson responsible for filling out paperwork? What about cold calling or customer service?
As much as you can, clear these time-wasting responsibilities from your sales star’s plate so he can have more time to spend on what he excels at: selling. Every hour he spends on something that does not help your bottom line is time poorly spent.
Get an assistant.
If your top salesperson creates more paperwork and customer care needs than the rest of your sales team and office staff can handle, consider hiring an assistant specifically to take care of his administrative tasks.
If there is not room to hire an assistant, look at how your sales team is structured.
Do you have a salesperson that is great at finding leads but not so great at closing?
Consider pairing a top performer up with a great lead generator and offloading some of the administrative work to the salesperson that is not as comfortable closing deals, as well as giving the closing responsibilities to the better salesperson.
With partnerships like this, you give top performers more time to close and give lead generating salespeople credit for their hard work even if closing is not their forte.
It is less expensive to keep good people than it is to find new ones, so make sure your top salesperson feels like he is appreciated and fairly compensated.
It is also important to provide incentives beyond commissions if your sales star has the tendency to slow his efforts once he is satisfied with his paycheck for the quarter.
Consider creating career development opportunities or promotions to motivate the sales star who might feel like he has made enough commission this month. If your top salespeople are already succeeding at a rate that makes it difficult for other salespeople to compete for recognition, consider creating a second tier for your sales star to isolate his numbers from the rest of the group.
This way, lower performers can feel motivated by their more evenly matched competitors.
Maximize your leads.
How does your company generate leads?
If a large portion of your sales team has trouble making sales from the leads they have, it might be time to re-evaluate your lead generation strategy.
Is your company positioning itself to be most visible at the moment when potential customers will be most ready to buy?
If you are paying for leads, consider investing money in a lead generation service that will qualify your leads more thoroughly.
Keep the customers you have.
Just as it is cheaper to keep good employees, it is always more lucrative and sustainable to hang on to current customers and upsell when possible than it is to find new business.
Perhaps some of your lower performing salespeople will flourish when given the opportunity to focus on taking care of current customers and maximizing opportunities for upgrading their service.
Bring on the right talent.
If you have done everything you can to maximize the productivity of the salespeople you currently have, you might be ready to start hiring sales reps.
But if your last batch of hires turned out to only be partially effective, it is important to be extremely careful with the new people you bring on board.
Successful salespeople have a Need for Achievement, Competitiveness and Optimism that make them perfect for the demanding and fast paced world of sales.
Utilizing a sales aptitude test at the beginning of the interview process is the best way to ensure that new hires have the Drive required to be happy and successful in sales and make your team as productive as possible.