It’s goes without saying that sales is tantamount to a business’ success. With that said, it’s surprising to see how few entrepreneurs truly commit to building a sales team. They may hire and spend in sales, but that’s different than committing, focusing and building a successful sales organization. Here’s the biggest mistakes business’ make.
- Not training the sales team. The first two media sales jobs I had, I received a combined total of 0 hours of sales training. 5 years earlier, I was hired for my first sales job in biotechnology. As part of the training, the new hires went through 3 days of sales training. I also spent a week each with my manager and the former territory manager doing ride alongs. Throughout the year, we received additional training in all aspects of sales. If you search “sales” on Amazon, there are 13,863 books written on sales. How many have you and your team read? If you plan on investing in building a sales team, make the commitment to training them properly and giving them the resources to succeed. There’s better access to sales resources now more than ever with sales seminars, online sales training, sales sites and blogs and books. As a starting point, subscribe to Hubspot’s Sales blog. They write and feature guest post author’s on 5 blogs posts per day.
- Not committing to sales. Sales isn’t something the sales team does. Sales is something everyone at the company does, especially the CEO and the executives. At one of the media companies I worked for, the CEO was getting coffee with the head of marketing of a major movie studio that I worked with. He asked if I should bring anything up in the meeting. I suggested talking about how we could help them market their upcoming releases. He replied he didn’t want to sound too salesy. Unless your business is pre-revenue, the number one job of the CEO is driving revenue. As a CEO, president, or executive you should intricately understand how the sales team operates, it’s pain points and how you can take steps to help resolve them. If there’s anything they need you can do, you need to do it. Get to know all the sales people. Personally congratulate them on progress and deals won.
- Not providing resources. Sales people should have one job: to sell. They shouldn’t be doing project management or be involved in onerous account management responsibilities. Those are the responsibilities of project managers and account managers. You should set up your sales team so when a deal closes, s/he can cc the corresponding staff and go back to selling. Both media sales jobs I had handicapped my ability to sell by not having any support staff. Both companies had the mentality that we’re start ups, and we’re resource strapped. Save money on air conditioning, not by not having the right sales resources. The more time you team has to sell, the more sales they’ll be doing.
- Not providing tools. Give your sellers everything they need. Our team uses and invests in the following sales tools: Clearslide, Followup.cc, Dropbox, Uber Conference, Join.me, CRM among others. We spend over $200 per month per sales person on tools to enable them to streamline their work flow and better do their jobs. It’s an investment I would estimate pays off 10x. When you’re evaluating a new tool, the question you should be asking is not can I afford this, but how big an ROI will this tool drive, how much easier will it enable my sellers to do their job.
- Not experiencing their process. It’s easy to set goals. I had a CRO who set goals based on what the board wanted and not all realistic to what the sales team was experiencing. In my first month on the job, he assigned me $50K target for the month, even though the sales cycle was a minimum of 3 months. Only a single member of the team would regularly meet his goal, the CRO would threaten the whole team by stating that the missed revenue would be pushed onto our later monthly targets of the year so it would be harder to hit the sales targets. When we would bring up challenges we were facing, he suggested we needed to “get creative” instead of offering any concrete solutions of his own. For one account, he suggested that I catch the contact in his company’s parking lot. I don’t need to explain why that’s a bad idea. This was for a reputable, highly funded start up. If you’re leading a sales team, you need to experience their pain points first hand. You need to be honest about the process and not just set arbitrary goals. They should be realistic goals, and not a way to blame the sales team for not delivering. If more than half your team isn’t exceeding their targets, you’re to blame, not them.