Not every sales rep has ambitions of leading a team. But the ones that do need to go beyond being an excellent salesperson. Leading teams to achieve their monthly quota while keeping everyone happy and fostering a positive culture isn’t easy and requires good sales leadership skills. With that in mind, we’re looking at what good sales leadership looks like with this guide. Read on and find out what it takes to lead a sales team. 

A snapshot of good sales leadership

  • Good motivation skills
  • Transparent and able to provide feedback
  • A team builder
  • Offers stability through process

Motivation

Good sales leadership skills aren’t solely about being motivated; you also need to be a motivator. Long gone are the days of the carrot and stick approach where you offer rewards for high-level performances. In today’s climate, displaying trust in your team is one of the primary ways to motivate them.

What does that look like? Leaving them to maintain important accounts, allowing them to cross-communicate with other teams and providing a clear pathway to progression. Your team will feel inspired when they have your trust and are motivated to perform to their maximum capabilities. 

Transparency

The best sales leaders have a habit of coaching with immediate and effective feedback. Not only does this approach help improve the team, but it also shows that you’re willing to be transparent and open with them. 

Coach on all aspects of a team member’s performance, from how they approach a sales pitch to the more minor details. That doesn’t mean you should micromanage, but pointing out specific behaviours, their impact, and how to change them for the better means that everyone in the team benefits in the long run. 

Building team spirit

A happy and progressive team spirit is needed for a high-performance culture. Managing a team with low morale is challenging – unhappy reps won’t meet their targets and may even begin to seek alternative employment. 

The best way to build team spirit involves having a unique take on each situation. However, there are some aspects to consider, such as setting achievable goals and offering direction, dealing with problems head-on and not allowing situations to fester, and investing in sales training so that reps continue to improve and see a clear way to progress their skills. 

Have a process

There’s one key takeaway that you should pay attention to if you’re a sales leader: the process. Put a unified strategy in place to ensure everyone is on the same page. 

Repetition breeds consistency and removes much of the ‘what ifs?’ from practices. With the proper structure in place, the focus shifts to the team rather than one or two stellar sales reps. Plus, it helps with team spirit, especially when your team trusts in the process to reach their targets. 

Being a good sales leader

A sales leader has a lot of responsibility on their shoulders. But with the right approach, you can build a culture at your company and get your team performing above expectations while also exceeding sales targets. 

Hiring a sales team is one thing, but it’s another to ensure they’re up and running while performing to their maximum capabilities. In other words, you want to ramp up your sales team as quickly as possible, and there are a few ways to do so. In this guide, we’re looking at how to speed up the ramping process so that your reps can start hitting targets and driving your business forward. 

What is a sales ramp-up period?

A sales ramp-up is the amount of time it takes for a new hire to reach full productivity. Generally speaking, this takes between six and nine months, depending on the hire’s profile, your quotas and market conditions. Within the sales ramp-up, there will be onboarding, client handover, product training and tech stack instructions. 

How to ramp up a sales team

Set goals

If you have a good idea of what success looks like at your startup, you can set a defined goal to ramp up your new hire. For example, if, from previous experience, it takes six months to ramp up a rep, you’ll want to aim for this number when someone begins a new role within your company. Setting a ramping goal gives them the entire length of the sales cycle to close the pipeline and reach quota.

Diversify coaching

Being able to mix it up can actually shorten the ramp-up time as reps learn more and benefit from different techniques. Start with preliminary onboarding and move to product training, tech stack instructions and then integration to the sales strategy. By breaking the ramp-up period down into shorter, more basic sections, you can be smarter with your coaching and see desired results faster. 

Think about the buddy system

Don’t be afraid to pair new hires with high-quality mentors who routinely hit their targets. New reps with a mentor tend to stand a greater chance of getting promoted, meaning they stay longer and outperform their peers. Of course, you need to match your new hire with the right type of mentor – someone who understands the dynamics of winning as a team and who isn’t a lone wolf. 

Demo sooner

Some managers get nervous about letting their reps demo too soon, concerned a new hire might lose a good lead. But that shouldn’t be the case as first-hand experience can be vital in the long term – and it’s all about longer-term thinking. So get reps practising demos as soon as possible, and don’t be afraid to give them real-life experience. 

Improve your own processes

A sales rep needs to embody certain qualities to be successful, but your setup also contributes to their performance. As a startup, you’re probably still fine-tuning your ramp-up times, from onboarding to coaching. Don’t stop tweaking until you find a formula that works on every level. The result will be a faster ramp up, no matter who you’re bringing through the door. 

A successful ramping setup

With these tips, you can review your ramping process and craft a way forward so that new hires are fully trained up as quickly as possible. Then they’ll be reaching their full potential and helping the company hit targets while boosting revenue. 

Once you have a sales team in place, you’ll need to begin the process of onboarding them. Onboarding can be tricky for many companies, especially startups that might not have vast amounts of experience setting up new hires. With that in mind, we’ve put this quick guide together with the key points of onboarding a sales team. Read on and make sure your new team member starts as they mean to go on. 

Onboarding a sales team in a nutshell

  • Keep them engaged
  • Establish expectations quickly
  • Don’t waste time
  • Put everything in writing

Make it engaging 

No matter how eager your new sales rep might be, at times, the onboarding process can be a tad boring. If there are many processes to go through, it’s not unreasonable to think that a rep might lose interest, even if they have the best intentions. 

Studies have shown that engaged team members are more productive and less likely to look for employment elsewhere, and the onboarding process offers the perfect opportunity to show them how the job will keep them engaged at all times. Make it interactive, encourage plenty of communication with other team members and keep it fun so that new hires stay switched on throughout the process.

Establish expectations

The sooner your sales reps know what’s expected of them, the better. The onboarding process offers the perfect opportunity to show what defines success at your startup, meaning you can communicate expectations early in the hire. 

Of course, to meet expectations, reps need support. This stage of onboarding a sales team should also show team members how the company will help them achieve their goals. Setting expectations shouldn’t be a warning of what they need to do to stay in their role; instead, it should involve showing all the support mechanisms in place and giving them a transparent view of the company’s goals. 

Don’t waste time

There’s no need to spend an entire day onboarding rep and going through processes. Use the time to get them pursuing leads and trying to make a sale. This approach ties in with keeping onboarding engaging and helps embed sales reps into the team faster. 

While it might feel like you’re throwing them in at the deep end, the long-term benefits can be fruitful. You’re showing reps that you trust their ability, even if the first day’s calls are merely reading from a script. By all means, do training. But it should coincide with real-life sales from the get-go. 

Put it all in writing

Starting a new role can be daunting and a little nerve-racking, even for sales reps with bags of confidence. That’s why you should have written copies of the onboarding process. 

A sales rep can’t be expected to retain every single piece of information. Give them resources and reference guides they can refer to and refresh their memory when need be. Build a document filled with FAQs about the company and role so reps can use it as their encyclopaedia for the first few weeks and months at the company. 

Onboarding a sales team

Onboarding a sales team doesn’t need to be a laborious process. You can make it fun and engaging and get reps up and running as quickly as possible, so they’re contributing, feeling appreciated and helping your business reach its sales targets. 

The first sales hire is one of the most important. It’s not always guaranteed to be a success, but at the very least it will teach you what you do and don’t want when hiring a salesperson. And if it is a resounding success, you can use that hire as a template to build a team. With that in mind, which traits should you look for when making a sales hire? From being a quick thinker to having a curious mind, we’ve got the answers below. 

Key sales traits in a nutshell

  • A quick thinker
  • Experienced
  • Listener
  • Personable
  • Curiosity

What to look for when hiring a salesperson

A quick thinker

Being quick on your feet is vital when selling products and services. As much as sales scripts can help, there will be moments when the rep needs to act in real-time and respond to questions they weren’t prepared for. 

The ability to adapt to unique and challenging situations is a sign of a high-quality sales rep. It’s not just about being a fast and charming talker, either. Reps need to improvise and take control of the situation to deliver a solution the customer is happy with. These skills can be developed over time, but having someone on your team with the ability to think quickly can make a real difference from the get-go. 

Experienced

Your first sales rep shouldn’t be green unless you already have a sales background. Ideally, you’ll build your team around this person. For that reason, you should aim to bring someone on board who knows how to thrive in a sales environment. 

It’s even better if they have experience of startup life. Excelling for a company like Google is much easier than selling products or services that people probably haven’t heard of yet. Therefore, you need someone who’s taken the knocks and knows how to look past them and use their experience to reach sales targets. 

A good listener

Many people think that a good sales rep is someone with the gift of the gab who can talk their way in (or out) of anything. And while a confident attitude is necessary to success, it’s vitally important that sales reps take time to listen to their customers. 

You’re trying to solve pain points by providing services or products that people need. A sales rep able to sell ice to an Eskimo is all well and good, but you’ll ultimately end up with unhappy customers who didn’t really want the product in the first place. A rep who listens, however, can identify the best type of leads, tell the right story and help you build an excellent sales strategy that wins. 

Personable

Even in 2022, sales reps are still labelled with the stereotype of being pushy and brash. While the reality is quite different, when hiring a salesperson, you should aim to bring someone on board who is friendly, personable and fits in with your company culture. 

It goes hand-in-hand with being a good listener. Salespeople who go out of their way to make a customer feel valued can build long-lasting relationships and turn leads into customers. They need to have self-awareness, empathy and grasp the challenges a prospect faces so they can solve them. 

A curious mind

You want to hire reps that have a sponge mentality. That’s to say, they soak up everything around them and pay attention to the details, no matter how big or small. A salesperson always looking to learn and improve can become an essential part of your company. 

Whether they’re learning from you or looking at the leads that got away to see where improvement can be found, you should hire someone who’s always asking questions and wants to know more. That curious mind will develop into an a-star sales rep. 

Number one sales rep

While many aspects of sales roles are changing, the key ethos remain the same. Your hire needs to focus on reaching targets, being personable, curious and a good listener. With those traits, they can form the core of your sales team and help your startup grow and establish itself as a significant player in its industry. 

Any growth-focused company will want to ensure that all elements of their business are ready and able to support their scaling plans, especially those that impact revenue generation. To drive revenue at scale, most successful companies will hire a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO). 

HR Magazine reported an increase of 48% growth rate for CRO positions in the UK, indicating a surging demand for revenue acceleration in today’s complex business environment.

What is a CRO?

A CRO is in charge of all revenue stream inputs, including merging sales, marketing, and customer success-related revenue. 

CROs will focus on: 

  • Net new revenue
  • Renewal revenue
  • Expansion revenue

How do you know when it’s time to hire a CRO? 

Most CEOs we deal with at Sales for Startups do not come from a sales and marketing background. It is only in recent years that we have seen British companies increasingly turning to marketers when it comes to filling the top job, with  21% of all FTSE 100 CEOs now coming from a sales or marketing background.

While it can be beneficial for CEOs to have an understanding of sales and marketing, taking on the top role results in less time to dedicate to the daily running of the organisation, therefore you might consider hiring a CRO to assist the executive team when making strategic decisions, developing future initiatives, optimising the customer experience, and aligning sales and marketing – driving both teams to generate consistent revenue. 

When your sales and marketing teams are aligned, it can lead to 208% growth in marketing-generated revenue, 38% higher sales win rates and a 32% increase in year-over-year revenue growth. 

Experienced CROs will monitor the revenue pipeline and adjust as necessary to create sustainable growth and devise a long-term plan that integrates all departments and teams to ensure growth across all existing and new customer segments are achieved. 

Customers need to be at the centre of everything your organisation does. Speed without sacrificing experience and quality at a low company cost is the optimum customer acquisition strategy. 

In order to achieve this, the CRO will need to know: 

  • Where the current customer is acquired? 
  • Time to acquire the ideal customer?
  • Cost to acquire the ideal customer?
  • How many leads are generated the company currently converts?
  • The average order value?
  • How long before the customer receives value?
  • How long a customer stays with us?
  • What is the lifetime value of a customer?
  • What is the referral rate per customer?

As with all critical hires for startups, there is not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to securing the right CRO for your business. Sales for Startups is dedicated to helping all B2B tech startups get CRO-ready and ultimately use this expertise to scale and hire top-performing salespeople. 

Get in touch with the team for more information. 

A startup on the hunt for a sales team is a business going in the right direction. If it’s at the stage where you need to hire not just one salesperson, but actively build a department, then revenue is growing, and now it’s time to take it to the next level. But how do you hire the right sales team and put the foundations in place for success? That’s what we’re exploring in this guide, which looks at how to hire a sales team. 

Look for experience

If you don’t come from a sales background, then it’s better to go for someone who knows what they’re doing. They will cost more, but their experience will be key to building for the future and helping drive the business forward.

That’s not to say that you need to opt for an A-star seller with experience at the biggest brands. But you should aim to bring someone on board who possesses a thorough understanding of the sales process and knows how to turn leads into customers.

Key takeaway: Look for someone with 3-5 years experience

Ensure they understand the challenges

Again, your sales team doesn’t need to be top-level sellers at Fortune 500 companies. Instead, look for employees who fit the startup culture and adapt as needed. The best startups are flexible and gain traction because everyone on the team sees the vision and believes in the process. 

Team members who come from established brands may already have a watertight process, which acts as a safety net for them. In the startup world, the picture is somewhat different. Therefore, you should aim to hire reps who appreciate the grind of finding and converting leads and are prepared for the challenges that come with pitching a startup. 

Key takeaway: Try and avoid reps who have the safety net of working for well-known brands where it’s an easy sell.  

Put a process in place

If you’re on the lookout for a sales team, the chances are that you already have one rep in place. And if not, you’ve reached a high level without any official sales rep. That means you most likely have a sales process in place already, and you should continue with the same setup. 

Of course, you can tweak it as you see fit, especially with recommendations from your new hires. But having a successful process in place gives them a starting position to take what you’ve done well already and improve it further to maximise sales. 

Key takeaway: Put foundations in place so your sales team gets off to the best possible start. 

Create a culture for success 

The word ‘culture’ is thrown about without much meaning all too often these days. Yet, it is important. At least, it is when you drill down what you want your sales team to achieve. Sales are the obvious answer, but it runs deeper than that, and the right hires can help create the building blocks to a thriving working culture. 

Look for people who match your company’s ethos – employees who will fit in but aren’t afraid to push boundaries. This is especially true of salespeople, as you want to get people on board who can move the needle and help the company progress to the next level. Those first reps will then become managers, and your sales department will start to grow into a fully-functioning sales team.  

Key takeaway: Understand the traits you want in a sales team

Hiring the right team

Hiring a sales team isn’t easy, and you can’t expect to get everything right on the first attempt. However, if you already have the culture in place and a successful process for new hires to follow, there’s no reason why you can’t build a five-star sales team that’s ready to win and drive revenue. 

A pricing strategy is arguably the most important for all the elements you need to consider when it comes to your business. Go too high, and people will be put off buying your product or service. Go too low, and potential customers will question the quality. But how do you find the right pricing strategy? That’s the purpose of this guide, which looks at the different types of pricing strategies for your business.

  • Price skimming
  • Market penetration pricing
  • Premium pricing
  • Economy pricing
  • Value-based pricing
  • Dynamic pricing
  • Bundle pricing

Different pricing strategies

Price skimming

Price skimming is popular with many startups. It involves charging the highest initial price a customer is willing to pay and then lowering the amount over time. Once the demand for the first customer is satisfied and competition enters the market, the company lowers the price to attract more price-sensitive customers. Price skimming can be particularly successful when there isn’t much competition for a product or service.  

Market penetration pricing

Market penetration pricing is almost the opposite of price skimming. It sees a company offering a lower price during its initial offering, intending to attract customers to its new product or service. The lower price is designed to help the new product penetrate the market and draw customers away from competitors. Market penetration pricing only usually works in the interim, aiming to raise awareness with a large number of customers. 

Premium pricing

If a business creates a high-quality product or service aimed at high-income individuals, then it might opt to try premium pricing. This pricing strategy involves developing a product that people deem as high value. Therefore, the target market is anyone operating at the luxury or high-end lifestyle end of the spectrum. 

Economy pricing

With economy pricing, the aim is to target customers who want to save money when purchasing goods or services. Stores like Asda use economy pricing models to appeal to a range of customers looking to be careful with their money. Unlike premium pricing, the economy tends to be for more functional products and services aimed at a specific target market. 

Bundle pricing

Bundle pricing can work if you’re selling multiple products. You take them and bundle everything together, selling at a lower price than if items were charged individually. Discounts can create a sense of demand, allowing companies to sell products and services they previously struggled to shift. When done right, the result is a greater volume in sales. 

Dynamic pricing

Flexibility can be key for many businesses, and dynamic pricing is often used to establish flexible market prices for products and services. It considers variables, such as the balance between supply and demand, as well as seasonality and competitive strategy. As a result, companies can adapt to the market, be more agile, and offer a more competitive service to customers. 

Choosing the right pricing strategy

With so many pricing strategy options, businesses have to decide the best way to market their products and services. By taking a good look at your offering and comparing it to other competitors, you can settle on a pricing strategy designed to help your company progress and find the sweet spot for the cost of your products and services. 

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Seven reports for sales conversion

Depending on the model of your business, your conversions will fall into one of two categories: a sale or a lead. In each case, there are ample points at which a prospect can “drop off” the customer journey and guiding prospects from awareness through to advocacy can be a challenge.

In this document, you’ll find Sales for Startups’ seven reports to improve sales conversion for B2B tech startups across deal stages.

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The Guide To Creating Effective Partnerships As A Startup Founder

Strategic alliances are essential for businesses, but often one of the most overlooked forms of marketing and revenue generation.

Combining the expertise and resources of two companies to build one advanced offering is a great way to provide solutions for both audiences that were previously out of reach.

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Very few businesses achieve all of their targets without the help of partners. Working with others can expand your reach and give your business more validity. But how do you pick the right organisations to work with and set yourself up for success? That’s what we’re looking at with this guide to creating a robust partner strategy to help you build success for the future. 

How to create a partner strategy

Look at their core values

Partnerships need to be in sync with each other and make sense for everyone involved. You need to find a company that shares the same ethos as you and upholds similar standards. Finding a partner aligned with your values is arguably the single most important factor in finding a company to team up with and strike a long-lasting and fruitful partnership. It should be a primary aim of your partner strategy. 

Don’t limit your partner strategy to your industry

A business with the same interest and goals as yours doesn’t necessarily operate in the same industry. While the obvious choice might be to partner with a company working in similar circles, collaborating with firms in other industries also has its benefits. Uber and Spotify both worked together in 2014 and saw impressive results, even though they served different markets. Ultimately, you want to provide customer value, and sometimes that can be derived by thinking outside the box and working strategically with organisations operating in different sectors. 

Set goals

There’s no point partnering with a company because you think it might work out. You will need a clear plan in place where both sides understand their responsibilities and vested interests are laid out on the table. The best partner strategies are partnerships that are transparent, with everyone pulling in the same direction. First, outline what you want to achieve from a partnership. Then, when you begin discussions with firms, draw up a blueprint that reveals a clear road map for both businesses. 

Compliment each other’s strengths

The goal of a partnership is to introduce both companies to new audiences and improve your overall product or service. Ideally, you should partner with companies containing employees who have different skillsets from your own. Fill in each other’s gaps and use strengths to cover weaknesses. For example, if you’re a big picture person, try partnering with a business where one of the team excels with implementation. The best partnerships complement each other and contribute to growth for both businesses. 

Focus on marketing

Once the fundamentals of your partnership are in place it’s time to tell the world about it. This is where marketing comes in, and you can tap into each other’s marketing departments to reach the relevant audiences and get people excited about the partnership. Your joint-value proposition should strike a chord with customers, and you should focus on a robust marketing strategy to educate people about what collaboration means for customers. 

Regular reviews

Once the partnership is underway, you should schedule a time to review KPIs. Whether it’s weekly or quarterly meet-ups, regular communication is vital to ensure that both parties are getting the most out of the collaboration. It’s an ongoing process and should offer the opportunity to be flexible and adapt where needed. With regular meetings, you can ensure that everything is moving in the right direction and both parties achieve the maximum benefits from the partnerships. 

A partner strategy for success

Partnering with other businesses can be beneficial for your company and help drive sales while building the brand. And with a watertight strategy in place, you can ensure your business collaborates with the right companies and sets itself up for success.