How To Build A Sales Team From The Ground Up In 11 Steps

How to build a sales team from the ground up in 10 steps

You can have the most innovative, life-changing, valuable product or service – but without a competent sales team, you won’t earn the revenue or success you deserve. Hiring and building a sales team with the right people is a critical first step; that’s why in this article, we explain the eleven steps that sales leaders should implement when building a sales team.

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1. Determine the type of sales team you need

The first step to building a sales team is determining the type of sales professionals you need on your team. By planning this, you’ll ensure you hire the right people for the job and will be more likely to retain reps in the long term. While the sales professionals you’ll need are largely dependent on your business model, growth trajectory, target market and products or services – you critically need to consider which of the following positions you need, or will you start with 2 salespeople that do everything:

Inbound Sales Representatives

A typical day for an Inbound Sales Rep involves answering calls or queries, resolving customer complaints, scheduling appointments, assisting existing customers, and following up on outbound calls. 

Skills Required:

  • Excellent Multi-Taskers.
  • Endless energy.
  • Natural communicators.
  • Passionate, motivated, and resourceful.
  • Organized and self-sufficient.

Outbound Sales Representatives

Outbound Sales Reps make a ton of calls to promote the product or service, building and maintaining the customer base, and handling customer inquiries and problems.

Skills Required:

  • Excellent Listening Skills
  • Confident, Tenacious,, and perfect Interpersonal skills.
  • Highly organized, self-motivated, and hardworking.

Business Development Representative (BDR)

The goal for the Business Development Rep is to identify prospects, initiate the first outreach with potential customers, book meetings, and fill the pipelines for the sales team.

Skills Required:

Excellent active listening abilities.
Expert critical thinkers.
Perfect time-management.
Impeccable communication abilities.

Sales Development Representative (SDR)

Sales Development Representatives are responsible for qualifying all leads at the initial stages of the sales funnel and are therefore required to research potential clients, connect with and educate prospects, and qualify leads before handing them off to the sales team’s closers.

Skills Required:

  • Endless creativity.
  • Impeccable active listening abilities.
  • Easily adaptable. 

Account Executive (AE)

Account Executives, also known as Account Handlers, serve as the direct link between a company and its existing client – typically by managing day-to-day affairs and ensuring customer satisfaction.

Skills Required:

  • Problem-Solving. 
  • Extensive knowledge of Marketing and Negotiation practices. 
  • Analytically minded.
  • A Natural Leader.

Then determine the profile, background, skills and experience required, which will help you consider the number of sales reps you need. Once you’ve decided on the sales professionals you need to gather, you can start the hiring process. Because SOCO / trains tens of thousands of sales professionals across various roles each year, we know the ins and outs of the different sales positions out there and the skills needed for each. Read our ultimate guide to different sales roles here.

2. Hire the right candidates

The turnover of salespeople in the U.S. sits at 27%, which is twice the country’s overall labour turnover average rate. One startling study found that it can cost a company as much as $240k to recruit, hire, and onboard a new sales rep – so it’s crucial to get it right.

Studies have shown top-performing sales professionals have more internal drive and grit than the rest. They’re often the ones who display an entrepreneurial attitude and will do what it takes to close deals because, in the end, it benefits them as well as the company. In addition to grit, you want to find someone self-motivated who handles rejection with ease and is incredibly persistent. Try using these 5 Sales Interview Questions when meeting with potential candidates, and make sure to download our complete list of 35 Sales Interview Questions.

It’s essential to create a list of the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) candidates must possess and desirable ones. For example, candidates must have at least five years of experience in B2B selling, and knowledge of the IT industry is an asset. 

Something else to keep in mind when recruiting the best talent is the difference between aptitude and attitude. Aptitude refers to competency components that, while essential, can be increased through proper orientation and training. On the other hand, an attitude refers to a person’s beliefs, values, and work ethic, which are unlikely to change. When in doubt, hire attitude and train aptitude. With that said, what are the most critical factors that will help you recruit and retain the best talent? There are two: job descriptions and proof devices.

Job descriptions

Job descriptions clearly explain what the salesperson will do and under what conditions sales professionals will perform. In preparing job descriptions, it’s important to outline in as much detail as possible the aptitude and attitude required for the salesperson to be successful. Selecting the best talent means looking for reliability, mental ability, and emotional stability. Hiring the right people with the right mix of aptitude and attitude will lower your employee turnover and help you retain the best talent.

Proof devices

Proof devices are more reliable than just using test scores and interviews. Work sampling and simulations are more effective than most selection methods because they directly measure job performance. Situational tests and role-plays where candidates are presented with hypothetical situations representative of the job are also helpful. Be sure also to check employment references and even testimonials from previous clients. Incorporating proof devices into your recruitment strategy can help maximize the return on your human resources investment

Also read: How to Identify Drive In Sales Candidates With Dr Christopher Croner & How to Hire Salespeople

3. Create a sales process

A sales process is a set of actions your sales team takes to move a prospect along the sales funnel; these include prospecting, preparation, approach, presentation, handling objections, closing and following-up.

To grow a sales team while continuing to get the best results, there needs to be a proven process documented and repeatable. An example of this is where to find prospects, how to reach out to them and how to follow up. Everything is documented down to the script to use and intervals on when to follow up. Many of our clients find it useful to develop a sales playbook. Documented inside are the specific processes on finding, researching, and reaching out to leads and exact sales presentation and closing templates to employ. Without this, time and money are wasted, and you’ll be left relying on certain reps to hit targets instead of a process everyone can follow and use to succeed.

Unsure of where to begin creating a sales process? Read and download our Sales Roadmap Generator, and start creating a sales roadmap that will help you close sales faster and easier than ever before.

Also read: How To Create An Effective Sales Playbook For Your Sales Team

4. Provide sales enablement

Sales Enablement is a strategic process and collaborative discipline intended to provide your sales team with all of the resources, tools, content, and training they need to close more deals quicker than ever. Its main goal is to add value to the sales process by providing consistent, scalable enablement services that allow customer-facing professionals to do what they do best. Sales enablement isn’t just about making profits; it’s essential to help salespeople effectively in sales. The right sales enablement strategy equips reps with the training, coaching, and content they need to succeed. Read our guide to sales enablement strategies to learn more.

5. Choose a Sales Methodology

When building a sales team from scratch, it’s important to know what sales methodology you’ll be using.

So what’s the difference between a sales methodology and a sales process? A sales process documents all the stages you pass through to make a sale. However, a methodology details the type of approach you use for each step of the process. So you might choose to use the same sales methodology throughout or several. There are several popular sales methodologies available to salespeople today, check them out below:

SOCO/ Sales Methodology

We believe in creating solution-focused, goal-oriented sales specialists who take pride in their profession. The SOCO® Selling™ methodology includes our seven pillars of selling and our exclusive top-to-bottom sales funnel methodology. Every sales team begins the program by being evaluated with pre-training assessments. This allows us to build a custom training experience ensuring our program provides the most effective results for your company.

SOCO’s complete training system ensures that you and your team will outlast short-term goals by developing long-term selling behaviours. 

The SOCO® Selling™ methodology is implemented by multitudes of industry-leading companies around the world. Including UOB, SingTel, Spotify, ZenDesk, Millennium Hotels and Maersk, to name a few. Whether you have a sales team of one or one thousand, our program is designed to get your sales staff trained quickly and efficiently. 

Value Selling Methodology

Value-based selling is based on the understanding that customers buy your product or service because they anticipate enjoying a value that they would not have in the absence of it. Hence the focus is on benefitting the customer throughout the sales process, taking a consultative approach to provide value based on the customer’s needs.

SPIN Selling Methodology

SPIN Selling is a sales strategy that focuses on a question-based sales framework (situation, problem, implication, need-payoff). In order for salespeople to increase the likelihood of closing a deal, they need to  ask the right questions, at the right time.

Solution Selling Methodology

Solution Selling is a sales approach that came along to replace old ‘Product Selling’ practices. It’s a sales process that focuses on selling the solution to the prospect’s problem instead of just focusing on selling the product. 

Social Selling Methodology

Social Selling is a sales methodology that incorporates social media to generate leads and to enhance the sales process. Here at SOCO/ Tom Abbott wrote the book on Social Selling in which he shares how to prospect, position and present using social media.

Challenger Sales Methodology

The Challenger Sales Model is an advanced approach that needs to be implemented with caution and only with seasoned sales professionals. You can read our in-depth review of the Challenger Sale here

You can also read our full guide to sales methodologies here.

6. Compile your sales tech stack

Modern sales teams have an extensive ‘sales stack’ because having a CRM tool is no longer enough to keep in touch with customers and find new prospects effectively. Our sales team uses 90% of these tools plus other non-sales specific tools. Because leads don’t just come in by phone or email anymore, they come in from the web, social, chat, and messaging. Popular sales stack technology includes:

  • DropBox: Document storage and delivery is a crucial part of your sales tech stack. Not only are they for collaborating with your coworkers but it’s also for sharing documents with customers. Our reps have our brochures and collaterals all easily accessible in different DropBox folders.
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator: is excellent for finding decision-makers at companies.
  • Slack: Wouldn’t it be great if the whole sales team could share their wins, tips, recent objections and questions on a platform that could be accessed and searched from their computer or mobile phone? That’s where Slack comes in -by using Slack for sales teams, you can create multiple channels (groups) with different members in each to discuss, collaborate and share.
  • WhatsApp: One of the quickest methods of communicating with customers is to use WhatsApp. Most prospects and customers check their messages several times a day, making the communication app the most natural way for them to get in touch with businesses.
  •, SalesWhale, or Pipedrive: The most obvious reason why people start using a CRM is to keep track of prospects and clients. The naysayers will say it takes too much time. Tell me if your piece of paper system, or ‘I’ll remember strategy’ can automate your follow up and documentation process like these tools can!

Check out our guide to essential sales technology stacks for professionals.

7. Create a compensation plan

The harsh truth is that uninspired sales people seek out new employers, and since they’re great at building, developing and nurturing relationships, they often take “their” accounts with them. Creating a sales compensation plan is one of the best methods to help inspire your sales team (and retain them!), but ensure you have an individual sales compensation plan for each employee so that they feel like their contribution is unique and valued.

Learn more about how to create your sales compensation plan.

How To Build A Sales Team From The Ground Up In 11 Steps-Checklist Infographic

8. Determine your sales KPIs to measure success

How will you know your sales team is achieving its objectives? That’s where KPIs come in.

Whether you’re a sales manager trying to maximise the results of your team or a company leader looking for KPIs for sales staff, it’s important to understand which Sales KPIs and metrics you should be tracking and what to look for when reviewing the data. Types of sales KPIs you should use to measure success include:

  • Sales Cycle Length (Time from lead to order): By tracking the number of days it takes for a lead to turn into an order, sales leaders can look for areas to improve the productivity of their sales funnel and see which sales reps are taking longer than others.
  • Average Order Value (Average value of each order received.): By tracking average order value, leaders can see where there’s room for upsells and if certain reps consistently give large discounts.
  • Product Performance (Tracking how well some products sell over others.): Team leaders can notice trends of certain products and possible reluctance or difficulties reps might have to sell other products. This KPI can also point out the possible competition in the marketplace or the positive effects of marketing efforts.
  • Key Sales Activity (Number of calls, meetings or emails achieved each month.): By tracking sales activity, leaders can see if reps are doing enough of the right activities to reach targets. KPIs can be further broken down into whether the call was answered, the amount of time spent on the call, if the email was opened or replied to, and actual meetings/presentations delivered.
  • Opportunities to Sales Conversion Rate (Ratio of opportunities that convert to orders.): Measuring how many opportunities your sales team converts to real orders helps identify improvement areas.

9. Set a sales quota

While sales quotas may seem small in the grand scheme of things, they help your team know what they’re aiming for and if they’re meeting your expectations. This in turn helps generate more revenue. Quotas come with other uses, such as keeping your sales team accountable, motivating your sales reps, and aligning team efforts to meet objectives.

10. Create sales incentives

A sales incentive is a type of gift or reward awarded to salespeople who have fulfilled or surpassed a quota for selling goods or services. The best way to organise sales incentives is to get to know your team. We guarantee that your team is full of different personalities who are all motivated by different things. Therefore, knowing what appeals to them will give you a head start in personalizing their sales incentives experience. This way, you can ensure each employee is equally motivated.

11. Incorporate training

The truth is that hiring the best employees today will not guarantee future success. Facts change, technology evolves, and your industry never remains stagnant for long. You can no longer depend on your employees to keep up with the newest developments on their own. If you want to create the perfect team to drive your business forward, you need to invest in an outstanding training program

We suggest providing your sales team with on-demand training using e-learning portals like our own SOCO Academy platform, so reps can learn new skills whenever and wherever. In addition to e-learning, schedule live formal training quarterly and review processes and tips at sales team meetings.

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12. Give feedback

Once the team is trained on your products, services and process, the training doesn’t end there. Ongoing support and mentoring are needed to keep the momentum going. I recommend conducting weekly sales team meetings where tips are exchanged, and everyone can learn from their colleagues’ successes and failures from the past week. To complement team meetings, also conduct one-on-one coaching to tackle individual needs and specific strengths and weaknesses.

Final Word: Address Real-World Scenarios with Personalised Support

Every salesperson is unique, as is every deal they work on. That’s why by implementing a consistent coaching program, sales teams and individual reps can get the support they need to close the deals in front of them.

SOCO’s Peak Performance Coaching program is designed to coach teams one-on-one or as a group to address real-world scenarios and unique challenges individual sales reps face.

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