10 Things Every Founder Should Know Before Building Out a Sales Team

build out a sales team

If your goal is to make money, one of the first things every growing business should have is a killer sales department. But how should you quantify that? We asked 10 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:  “I’m new to having a dedicated sales department. What is one thing I must know before I start building out a sales team?”

How To Build Out a Sales Team

Here’s what YEC community members had to say about building out a sales team:

1. Set Up a Solid Incentives Structure

“Don’t start building your sales team until you know exactly what you want them to accomplish. Do they need to deliver a certain amount of revenue? Build your presence in a specific market sector? Figure this out and set up your incentive structure (i.e. compensation) to reflect that. Make sure that your sales team works towards your company goals, or you’ll move backward.” ~Aaron Schwartz, ModifyWatches.com

2. Measure Leading Indicators

“Make sure you work with your sales team to set goals at every stage of the funnel. With a new team, you want to make sure you are looking at leading indicators and not just revenue. That way, when problems or underperformance occurs, you’ll be able to better diagnose where the problem lies.” ~ John RoodNext Step Test Preparation

3. Expect Trial and Error

“We built out our sales team in the last year and a half, and it took a lot of trial, error and turnover. When you’re selling a new product, it takes a while to find the best practices and what will work for your target audience. It can also take a while to build a team that excels at these practices and can connect with your customers. Be flexible in your approach and willing to change it up.” ~ Micah Johnson, GoFanbase, Inc.

4. Be Clear About What You Want Them to Achieve

“You need to have a strategy in place that says what you want them to achieve as they hit the ground running. This includes annual and quarterly sales goals as well as how their role ties in with what marketing is currently doing.” ~ Zach Binder, Ranklab

5. Define Success for Each Salesperson

“Salespeople are results-oriented people. I’ve found salespeople to be competitive and motivated by the opportunity to not only reach, but crush sales targets. If you set the objective, for instance, $10,000 in sales per month, they will be tremendously creative in how they get there. Equip your team with the right tools and technology to reach out to prospects and then let them close deals.” ~David Ciccarelli, Voices.com

6. Understand the Tools Available

“There are so many sales tools out there to support sales, ranging from CRM and marketing automation to sales enablement and social selling software. It’s critical to understand which tools will be a good fit for your team and test process integration between them before you make your first hire. Knowing from day one what and how your team will leverage these tools can drive exponential growth.” ~ Nick Eubanks, I’m From The Future

7. Supportive Infrastructure

“To give every advantage possible to your new sales team, don’t forget about or underestimate supportive infrastructure. This ranges from the technical (phone system and CRM) to personnel. Personnel can include talented sales management and training staff (and great sales training and management processes!). You may also need customer service/QA staff to keep sales retention high.” ~ Kevin Conner, WireSeek

8. Find People You Trust

“For better or worse, the sales team is customer-facing, which means they might have more interactions with your customer than you ever will. Your sales team will require time to create their scripts and find their flow. You need to be able to instill your company values into them, but also give room for failure. It’s a delicate balance of providing them with systems and allowing for error.” ~Ismael Wrixen, FE International

9. Focus on Employee Retention

“Hiring is easy. If you dangle enough carrots you can attract almost anyone. Keeping them is the hard part. Put them in a position to succeed with good sales infrastructure, accountability tracking tools, sales scripts, lead generation pipelines, etc. Build a strong house before you put people to live in it.” ~ Andre Chandra, I Print N Mail

10. Don’t Always Hire the Rockstar

“Sales is a complex web of building trust through communicating value while constantly trying to close the deal. Rather than hiring an entire team of “rockstars,” understand that each consumer has different needs, and not all of them want to deal with your typical “closer” personality. Sometimes a light hand, and a soft voice can get the job done. Your consumers are diverse. Hire accordingly.” ~Blair ThomasFirst American Merchant

Business Team Photo via Shutterstock

The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.