How To Build A Powerful, Successful Salesforce With Little Risk.
Few topics spark as much controversy as building a salesforce.
Business owners think only they can close a deal with a new client.
Others jump into the hiring process with no planning, hire the wrong person and then failure provides the wrong lesson:
When you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. That’s the cry of the perpetually stuck business owner and that’s not you, right?
The alternative is to do some planning up front and make sure you have a solid foundation from which to create an army of top producers, starting with your very first hire.
If you take the time to follow this simple process, in the end, you will have enough information to decide if you want to hire your first salesperson and if so, you will be prepared to do so.
Ready to get started?
Let’s start with some questions:
Besides the actual hiring of sales superstars, which I cover in great detail in an earlier blog post, one must be ready to train, pay, supervise and fund your first and subsequent sales superstar. Now answer a few questions which will provide you with enough information to make a decision and then move forward if you are ready.
Do your current products have enough margin built-in to pay a sales person?
Remember, sales superstars are motivated, money-driven individuals who are singularly focused on generating wealth. They may love you, your product and your service but as Kevin O’Leary said on Shark Tank, “it’s always about the money, all the time.” If you don’t have enough margin and you can’t raise prices, then adding a sales person is not going to work. There are alternatives which I will cover in a moment. If you do have the margin, ask yourself: what percentage of “the sale” would you be willing to pay to obtain a new client?
The percentage of each sale I can pay for a new sale is: ______
Can My Product Be Sold Entirely Over The Phone?
If your sales superstar has to visit a prospect to close a sale, the resources you will need to fund your sales campaign will increase. But if you don’t, then your choices are broad since you can select the best person for the job, no matter where they live.
I need my sales superstar to personally visit clients. Yes/No
Building a Hiring Model For Your Business
You have some margin to play with which can be used to pay a sales superstar. If you read my Hiring Sales Superstars post, you’ll be able to calculate how much and how long you will need to pay a training bonus and how to calculate a base salary for each person in your salesforce.
If you have the kind of offering that can be sold over the phone, then once again you are in the best possible position to hire the best phone sales people in the country or internationally, if so inclined. But if your offering can’t be sold over the phone, your candidate pool is smaller and a candidate’s personal appearance becomes a factor. Initial interviews with a candidate can be done on the phone, but the final interview will need to be done live at your office.
Will I be selling in person or over the phone? Phone/In Person
Do You Have All The Information You Need To Train a New Salesperson Available and Organized?
I don’t think you need to create an entire training environment (it would certainly be great if you had one) but you do need to have everything a sales person needs to come in contact with the prospect, walk them through the options available, answer any questions/objections and then close.
I have everything I need for a new sales superstar to hit the ground running. Yes/No
How much time does it take to train someone to sell your product?
You don’t have to train someone on how to do what you do; just teaching them enough to convey the key benefits and answer client questions and objections is all you need to account for in your estimate.
It takes ___ days of training to get someone to the point where they can use the sales tools and close a sale on their own.
How long does it take to close a sale?
The shorter the better, but it takes some time to build a pipeline in most businesses. To answer the question, estimate how many calls or visits over what period of time. In addition, if a “consult” takes several hours and that’s the call you use to close, that’s important to know.
It takes ___ calls to close a sale. Each call takes ___ minutes on average.
Organizing for Success
In my upcoming book: “The Invisible Organization,” I cover in great detail how to create systems to train your staff and deploy automated training systems if you sell courses to clients. The most important element of this discussion is to have already organized the material you will need to train AND test your new sales superstar for the job. Even simply collecting examples of successful and unsuccessful calls in a Dropbox or Google Drive folder is better than nothing.
How long does it take to train a new sales superstar? It takes _____ days.
And, of course, this may affect what you need to pay a new recruit as a training bonus. If it takes more than a few weeks to train, you may have to pay a training bonus. Are you ready to start training?
By knowing how long it takes to close a sale, you can plan your cash requirements to finance your new sales superstar to success. If it takes 30 days to start selling, then your candidate will need some form of compensation to stay afloat while filling his pipeline.
What is the nature of your 1st call with a prospect?
If you use your first contact with your prospect to set up a time to meet at a later date, then your real closing call comes after your appointment setting call.
We close on the 1st call — True/False
We make an appointment on the first call — True/False
Does your marketing generate incoming phone calls?
If so, then you must answer calls real-time or else you are wasting a big chunk of your marketing budget.
But if not, and your incoming leads are coming from the web then you can set up a more flexible call back system and reach out to leads on your own
1 – My incoming leads are phone calls — True/False
2.- If incoming leads are phone calls do they go to voicemail or answered live? Voicemail/Live
3.- My incoming leads are from the Internet. – True/False
4.- Do you make outbound calls to leads that do not convert from your sales funnel? Yes/No
A Two-Tier Selling System
Experience shows this is the most efficient way to get your client ready for your closing call. It also reduces risk by ensuring your expensive sales superstar has ample warm prospects. Using an appointment setter to line up warm prospects can work for businesses with the right profile.
For example, if you have a fairly complex sale where you take a prospect through a process over the phone or live, then appointment setters optimize the selling process.
It takes a sizable database with reliable information like location, phone number, type of company and size, to best employ an appointment setter. They can call your database and set up appointments for your closers all day long.
If you get incoming calls somewhat randomly from various ads and marketing, then it’s best to work only with your sales superstars and let them both qualify and close.
What Happens After The Sale Is Closed?
This requires a carefully written plan showing each step of the process. If you have been casual about this because you are the only one actually wearing all hats, then spend the time and organize. Create a step-by-step sequence of exactly what happens after the sale is closed for the entire salesforce.
I have a full plan that details every aspect of what happens after the sale is closed Yes/No
If Sales Double Or Triple, How Does That Affect the Delivery of Your product?
If you are selling a product that you can ship, then it’s easy to scale up by churning out more products to meet demand. But if you are delivering a consulting/coaching service-oriented product, you may have excess capacity but how many new clients can you really handle? Adding more than that may force you into a whole new training cycle for new coaches or consultants. Are you prepared?
I can handle an increase in sales of __% before I have to add more service providers, warehouse space or facilities.
Closing The Loop.
I made the assumption you had a client database, a CRM system to track all your client activity and maintain communication with your prospects and clients. If you don’t and have been using a collection of different sub-systems or web tools, consider a truly unified environment where everything can be accomplished in one place. There are several choices. My favorite system recently is Zoho.com. It’s CRM on steroids which can’t be beaten on price or features. If I sound like a fan, it’s true, I am.
Pulling It All Together:
If you carefully thought through the answers to the questions above, you may have realized that you don’t have enough margin in your product to pay a decent commission on a per-sale basis. Maybe you hadn’t really considered the length of time it takes to close a sale or the number of times a prospect needs to hear from your company before they close.
But if instead, you realize that more work needs to be done before you pull the trigger and start running recruiting ads, good! I accomplished my goal and helped you better prepare for the bold move of adding someone to the family.
What’s Next In Line To Sell Your New Client?
Having a strong second product or service to sell your clients provides you with a powerful profit opportunity. If this exists and the close rate is high, then you have a product line that can expand to serve your clients for many years to come; just keep developing new products that will be of interest to your clients.
I will soon publish a new post on how to build a stream of recurring revenue products but I bet you already have some and can develop more. Keep your sales superstars in mind as you price those, making sure there’s a handsome reward for going back and getting the next sale.
One last step. Can You Handle The Growth?
In some cases, growth comes more quickly than expected and catches the company off-guard. They can’t handle the sudden increase in business. What would happen if your own sales doubled or tripled quickly? Can you accommodate all those new sales/clients or contracts?
Plan in advance the best you can to expand. Think big but don’t spend big. If you need to hire more coaches, consultants or services providers, line them up. I can show you how I do it. Then make sure your pay plans can accommodate a mid-level manager, and I will show you how to identify those in your ranks who qualify.
Finally, consider the impact on your lifestyle, your family’s lifestyle and your available time. Be sure you are ready for what’s coming, count on success but be ready for a false start here and there before you get to success!
Questions? Let me know.
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