Scaling a sales team is an exciting time for your company during a period of intensive growth — it’s also important to remember that scaling reinforces the processes that you’ve set in place during your startup period.
When it comes time to scale your business, you want to be sure you are as prepared as possible to grow with efficiency, consistency, and sustainability. In fact, it’s been shown that when startups scale properly, they can grow about 20 times faster than startups that scale too early.
Where Do I Start?
Scaling a sales team in the midst of exciting growth can be overwhelming — oftentimes it’s difficult to know where to start. Here are a few tips to help you kick off your scaling process:
Tip 1: Start with your sales structure
Everything should begin with your sales process — you can’t scale a team if you don’t have a solid sales cycle in place first. You need to create a foundation for your current team before you can think about growing it.
Something like sales capacity planning could come in handy for you to figure out exactly how many new reps they’re going to need to meet future growth and revenue target
If you don’t have a concise sales process, design one that is specifically curated for your team and your company’s specific goals. Clearly set up the proper deal stages that are reflective of your product and its typical sales cycle.
When creating your sales process, you want to ensure it contains the following aspects:
- Must be repeatable. One of the most important features of your sales process is the ability for it to be reproduced consistently.
- Simple and straightforward. The more complicated your sales process is, the harder it can be to replicate and scale with efficiency.
- Easy to maintain. Sustainability is the key, so your sales process needs to have tools in place to properly maintain its proficiency as you scale.
- Trackable KPIs. A sales process should be measurable throughout each of its deal stages to ensure performance meets expectations.
Tip 2: Use data
It’s also important to start with the sales process because it gives you the opportunity to identify any problems or gaps within your cycle — you can do this by utilizing your historical sales data through CRM reporting, automation software, and feedback loop systems.
Review your metrics and notice if your team is struggling in any areas. Which methods are working? Which methods need adjusting? Track data and KPIs like:
- Lead to conversion numbers
- Average sales cycle length
- Pipeline value
- Customer retention numbers
- NPS scores for client satisfaction data
Don’t forget to communicate with your teams directly as well. Your 1:1 meetings will provide an opportunity for direct feedback and a deeper understanding of any roadblocks or challenges for your reps.
All of this data will give more insight into the different stages within your sales cycle. Then you can determine if there are specific areas that may be susceptible to scaling difficulties and adjust accordingly.
For example, are you hitting your outreach numbers, but consistently coming up short on converting to leads? Then your SDRs may need more direct coaching regarding the quality versus quantity distinction of their leads.
Or perhaps your marketing to sales qualified lead ratio is telling you that your sales content is not engaging prospects. This means your sales enablement team needs to reassess the collateral they are creating for your reps.
If you can pinpoint which areas of your sales process are lagging, you can fix these prior to scaling your sales team. Using different reporting metrics, your CRM pipeline data, quota attainment tracking, and forecasting information will help scale your sales process more accurately — and as a result, make the scaling transition more likely to succeed.
Tip 3: Get specific about your scaling needs
When it comes time to scale your team, you need to know exactly which areas within your organization that you want to scale.
Start by asking yourself — what are your goals and objectives? Are you looking to grow your product or maybe expand your reach regionally? By narrowing in on specifics, it will help you determine where to invest your scaling efforts (not to mention, help you set more accurate and attainable quotas for your growing team!).
These clear objectives will also inform you of which team may need more support. In addition, maybe you need to encourage additional certification or offer more training. Make any necessary additions and adjustments to your teams so you can scale with purpose.
Scaling your sales team should be deliberate and thoughtful — invest in the areas where you can grow and scale towards your long-term goals.
What Do I Need to Successfully Scale?
Once your sales process is secured, it’s time to look at the other aspects of your sales organization. You want to be sure you are set up to succeed in all areas.
Here is what to look for when scaling your sales team:
Tip 1: Dynamic tech stack
Invest in tech tools and automation to help make scaling an easier process for everyone. Importantly, utilize the right tools, not all of the tools. These programs need to scale with you, not hinder your growth.
Review your current tech stack and notice where there can be upgrades or changes to make your process more efficient. Look for CRMs, sales enablement tools, and other specialized software that work for your specific product and team structure.
For example, if you know you want to focus on scaling your AE team, then upgrade to software that makes the selling process more streamlined and effective as your team grows.
A software like Demodesk includes automatic post-meeting CRM data entry along with real-time interactive collaboration — a great tool for AEs hoping to increase their client engagement metrics while also limiting time spent on administrative tasks.
By choosing specific tech tools that match your growth goals, you’ll be scaling your team with focus and efficiency.
Tip 2: Productive onboarding and training structure
You can scale your sales team more efficiently with a resourceful onboarding strategy in addition to helping each rep grow in their role with consistent training and education.
Establishing a smart onboarding and training infrastructure directly impacts the importance of your recruitment and hiring process. When you are scaling your sales team, you want to know the type of talent you need, how you can speed up their ramp time, and encourage their long-term success.
For example, let’s say your current sales reps have great close numbers, but only have experience selling locally. You know that as part of your growth strategy, you want to expand to different regions. During the recruitment process to scale your team, you may want to expand your search for reps with experience growing in new regions.
Having specific objectives in mind for your future hires will dictate additional features like your 30-60-90 plans and training systems — especially if you are looking to expand your product or market as you scale.
Tip 3: Coach, Coach, Coach
This cannot be stressed enough — consistent coaching is the key to a sales team’s success, productivity, and growth. Instilling this foundation first, before you even begin to grow and scale, will help set the tone for each stage of your scaling process.
As our VP of Sales Lauren Wright stated in her World Class Coaching Advice post, your team needs to be filled with people who have the desire to be coached — the strongest starting point for setting up your coaching structure is to begin with the people and build the process around them.
Are We Ready to Scale?
Aside from the profitability and current cash flow management of your company, there are other factors to consider when determining whether or not you’re ready to scale your sales team.
Tip 1: Establish your solid ground
Determine your middle ground between fast investment growth and your company’s clear, long-term objectives. More money doesn’t always mean you’re ready to scale. Forecast your future cash flow and compare the input versus the output of your finances.
What are your goals and how are you achieving them? Use your current data and projected growth numbers — don’t forget to comprehensively consider your value proposition within the marketplace.
Scaling too quickly after the start-up phase can hinder your future success. According to a study by Startup Genome, where they analyzed over 3,000 high-growth internet startups, 74% of high growth internet startups fail due to premature scaling.
Take the time and energy to truly measure your team’s success —in all areas — and then determine if you are truly prepared to scale.
Tip 2: Check on your churn rates
It isn’t just about your closed sales numbers — if you aren’t maintaining your current clients, then scaling up your sales will be ineffective. When reviewing these numbers, notice if you are losing clients at a consistent rate and what can be done to fix it.
For example, if your revenue numbers are hitting quota, but your post-sales account management NPS (Net Promoter Score) numbers are low, then customer satisfaction — and in turn, retention — is your main problem.
Or perhaps the client satisfaction numbers are also positive, but you are still seeing high churn rates. This is a great opportunity to reevaluate your value proposition as it currently stands. Is your product fulfilling the needs of the specific clients you are targeting at this moment?
Mandy Cole, the Former VP of Sales at Zenefits, found herself in this exact position when scaling a past startup, She says, “We found our close rate was less than 10% and our churn rate was over 40%. It was a very expensive way to learn we didn’t have product-market fit in that market segment.”.
Tip 3: Review your internal retention rates
When you are scaling, you are starting with your current team, so it’s important to confirm that your employees are prepared to grow with you. Ask yourself the following questions as it pertains to your current sales reps:
- Do you see long-term employees within your current team?
- Have they expressed interest in growing with the company?
- Do you have the training infrastructure to assist with growth?
- How high are your retention rates?
- Are your reps regularly motivated?
If you are struggling to keep your current employees, then it’s time to reassess
your management methods and overall employee retention strategy. Are you creating a space where they can see growth? Are you listening to their feedback and taking action where needed?
Being honest with how well your company is retaining your employees and where you can improve will be an important step in your scaling strategy moving forward — if you have a high turnover rate now, then the problem will only increase as you scale if you don’t instil the proper roadmaps now.
Tip 4: Always be prepared to scale
Having all of these foundations in place will prepare you for scaling in advance.
Since scaling prematurely is a common mistake for startups, remain forward-thinking when setting your processes early on — this will make it much easier when it does come time to grow and scale your team.
Being fundamentally prepared to scale also aids in your recruitment and training plans, as well as your customer retention and satisfaction strategies.
Even if scaling your sales team isn’t an immediate necessity, setting the structures in place now will strengthen your current sales team, as well as adequately prepare you for eventual scaling in the future.