Growing Your Sales Force Doesn't Mean You Will Grow Sales

by Chris Young

growing sales forceMost people believe the way to add sales is to hire more salespeople. Sure the numbers will seem to grow because you have more heads, but how much is it costing you to acquire and feed all those heads? Growing your sales force may actually result in more headache and investment down the road if the new salespeople turn out to be poor performers.  Instead of growing the sales force, sales leaders should be asking, "How can I maximize my sales team?"

This is one of the things that keeps me up at night... What is possible when sales leaders maximize their existing sales talent, sales management, and sales systems?

Growing a sick sales model is like watering a yard full of weeds - the weeds consume the water and kill out any grass that may have grown. Tweet this!

Following are my recommendations to ensure that you grow sales the right way.

Assess Your Current Team

Would you hire your entire existing sales team again? If the answer is "No," you likely have done a poor job hiring in the past, which is why you "think" you need to grow your sales force.  The crappy salespeople you hired aren't increasing your sales - do you really think that hiring the same way will create more sales? No, it will only create more sleepless nights. Assess your current team's level of job fit and identify where you may have gone wrong in the hiring process.

Once you discover that your sales hiring process is a complete train wreck, you may want to ask for help from the outside. Hiring from the gut may have worked fifty years ago, but today's buying process is much different, which is why the salespeople you hire have to be the right person for sales. Outource recruiting efforts to those who specialize in finding top salespeople, like Peak Sales.

Improve the sales management systems.

How are your existing sales management systems? If you have a sales manager or VP of sales who does not have coaching and management systems in place, get them in place. More sales talent on top of undisciplined sales management means chaos. I have seen it. Resist the temptation.

Do you have a CRM? Are sales team members actually using it? If not - get one in place (I highly recommend Salesforce) and require every single sales team member to use it. Those who do not use your CRM must be removed immediately to destroy your competition as their employee.

Keep the focus on Job Fit. Quality matters more than quantity.

If you truly have it together as described above, it is now time to state the obvious...

Hire quality sales talent. Despite whatever you think you may have heard or believe about hiring - if all you are not using a repeatable, measurable, and objective hiring process you are ripping yourself and your company off.

Your goal should not be, "We need to grow from 50 to 100 by the end of the corporate year. Your goal should be, "We need to hire the highest quality job fit talent possible by the end of the corporate year - not to exceed 100."

Only hire "A Players". I repeat... Make sure you are hiring only "A Players". The search costs are worth it. You will get your money back many times over by not having to manage those who cannot sell.

Every sales team member must have a job fit score. Why? Sales managers are human beings. They have their biases. They treat people they like better than those they do not. They give the benefit of the doubt to some and not others...

In the old days, the "old boy's network" reigned supreme. Today, performance must be primary.

Get a coaching / feedback plan in place.

No coaching plan / timely feedback (monthly) means no improvement. No improvement means mediocrity. Mediocrity means reduced sales performance.

Get a coaching plan / monthly feedback program in place and scale it as you grow your sales team.

Remove low performers and non-believers

Low performers who are unable or unwilling to improve must be quickly removed from the sales team because they will bring down the performance of everyone. The same applies to non-believers.  It makes little sense to put forth the effort to hire high Job Fit sales talent and risk the potential that they become "infected" by low performers and non-believers.

Growing a sales team effectively is not rocket science. Step one is to decide to do so the correct way. Step two is to follow the recommendations I have outlined above and call us if you have any questions. Mediocrity is a disease you do not want in your sales team.

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