I chose a career in sales because I loved the thrill of being the connection between problem and solution. Now, as the current Head of Sales at Albacross, I get to be this connection on a daily basis. This is especially applicable when it comes to solving challenges with scaling a sales team.
Scaling a sales team requires a combination of leadership, preparation, and flexibility. In this article, I’m going to share my insights and experience with scaling a sales team, as well as some tips for growing into a leadership role.
Stepping into a leadership role
Before you can scale your sales team, you need to approach the sales management role with openness and determination. Personally, I grew very quickly in my leadership role and learned a few key things along the way. Here are some of my tips for stepping into a sales leadership role:
1. Use your previous experience to guide you
Everything has led me here —early in my career, I had a lot of opportunities that required more of an entrepreneurial mindset which eventually guided me into the sales world. Having that experience was a great tool when it came to my new role in sales. Utilize your transferable skills and trust that your past experience will be advantageous to you in this new position.
2. Empower autonomy
Once I was in sales, I learned the importance of empowering autonomy across a team. As a leader, it’s my job to provide guidance and support. Ultimately I need to trust my team to do their work, be resourceful and provide results.
This experience was essential when it came time to scale my sales team. If the autonomy and trust were not there, then scaling would not have been as successful. I’ve also had the privilege of being led by amazing managers and mentors as well, so I regularly take what I learned from them into every day as a sales leader.
3. Be open to learning
- Find people to lead you
When I first became a sales leader, I thought that I had to know everything. I learned very quickly — that’s not the case at all! Seek insight from others, both internally and externally. Even better, find a mentor and invest the time in growing into your role as a leader.
For example, when I moved to Sweden, the first thing I did was seek out organizations and leaders in the SaaS sales space. One thing led to another and I found the Revenue Collective, now Pavilion, which has been an incredible source for my professional growth. It has provided me with so many insights, connections, and resources that I have used to build Albacorss’s sales organization.
- Learning from your prospects and clients
Being open to learning also includes learning from your prospects and clients. A great example at Albacross is with our BDR team. This was the first team that I built in the organization. We use a multi-channel approach in the BDR sales processes and the team is consistently testing out different methods. It keeps the role fun and it’s great to see and hear the feedback from our prospects!
As a sales manager, you should always be fostering your ability to lead your team as well as coach, train, and mentor your reps.
- Remain creative and open to change
Something I learned through the BDR team is as soon as you stop fostering a culture of creativity and innovation, you’re no longer relevant. This is an important note for when you are scaling your sales team. Don’t forget to remain creative and open to change throughout the process.
4. Recruit smartly
Recruiting the right people and setting a roadmap for success in the role is essential for building culture and driving the business forward.
I’m currently reading the book Traction by Gino Wickman and it has a quote that I felt adequately explained this notion.
“The ability to delegate as a leader is simply the ability to place the right people in the right seats throughout your organization”.
For us, the “right people” means those that can walk and talk the company’s values and thrive in the culture. And the “right seat” means that they are able to exercise their skills and passions within the organization. Keep this idea in mind when it comes to recruiting new members for your own team.
We also work really hard on building our brand through social media — this has helped us attract top sales talent. Combined with word of mouth from our current employees and our competitive compensation strategy, these methods help us attract and retain our reps and help them grow.
It’s imperative to remember that your sales process is reliant on your people, which means the hiring process needs to be an integrated piece of your overall strategy.
Scaling your sales organization
Every sales team is going to scale differently — they’re going to approach it with diverse objectives, at different times within their growth stage, and with various processes in place. However, in my experience, there have been some consistent patterns when it comes to growing your sales organization.
Here are a few of my insights for scaling a sales team:
1. Monitor your processes
- Take a comprehensive approach
I’ve worked with many start-ups – experiencing the challenges and friction that can come with growing a team. Always be sure to take a comprehensive approach to the processes that you are building and ensure that they are repeatable and functional for your company’s long-term vision.
For example, I was hired as one of the first sales team members at Albacross. I was ready to learn and work my way up, so I started in an SDR role (in my opinion, this role is the best way to learn quickly!).
Six months later, the founders and I discussed growing a team to go outbound, so I hired my first three BDRs. Now, we have three AEs, five BDRs (plus one team lead), and one RevOps team member. This helps us tackle more challenges from more angles.
- Track your growth
Scaling can happen quickly, so tracking the growth of your team is essential to ensuring they are supported with the resources they need to be successful. Set up the effective processes now for each of your teams to ensure they can grow with you as you scale.
2. Adjust the sales process as you grow
- Be flexible
Your sales process will most likely change as you scale your team, add new departments, and grow your product. Be flexible with the changes so you can scale with more efficiency and success.
At Albacross, our sales processes are like night and day from where they were a year ago. This is largely part of the innovation of the BDR team and their sales approach. In addition, our AE sales and legal processes have become much more structured since we are now working with larger companies where the expectations are much higher.
- Adjust how your measure success
Along with our sales process changing, we also had to adjust how we measured success within our organization. In the beginning, we had really high metrics and goals because we were more focused on getting meetings booked. Now we are looking at the quality of the sales process and the retention overall — ensuring the businesses that come in also want to stay and grow with us.
When you are scaling your sales organization, make sure to take a step back to ask yourself “Are our current metrics still accurately demonstrating our growth?”
3. Review the structure of your team
Similar to the sales process, the structure of your sales organization will also need to be adjusted as you grow. You may find that a team needs more members or that an entirely new team needs to be created.
At our company, we believe in a farm system approach to hiring, but we’ve also taken time to invest in hiring externally to increase the experience and knowledge within the teams. Remain open-minded and truthful about what you need to scale your team successfully.
As you're growing, think proactively about where and how you can build out the different teams in the future. As you grow your AE team, do you also want to focus on building a RevOps team? If your AE team surpasses their quarterly goals, do you also need to focus on staffing up your CS team to support the new clients? Be sure to take a well-rounded view of your organization and adjust the structure as necessary.
4. Prioritize alignments
This is definitely the biggest challenge I have faced with scaling a sales team since we are such a fast-moving organization.
- “Win as One” mindset
At Albacross, this mentality is important for us because we work in a very fast-paced environment where things can change abruptly and everyone needs to be on board.
For us, when one person wins, we win together. When one person faces a challenge, we dig in and solve it together. It has become part of the culture and helped us overcome the growing pains we face as we scale. Always take the time to maintain a cohesive vision, even when scaling at a quick pace.
- Shifting the outbound process
When it comes to our alignment with our customers, we’ve also had to change the way we handle our outbound process to ensure we are connecting with clients who we believe will find success with our product.
For example, our outbound team has a list of companies with strict qualifying criteria that have to be met before they can book meetings with our AEs — while this can sometimes be frustrating, these end up being the deals that close. Focus on maintaining that alignment — both within the organization and with your clients — as you grow your teams.
5. Implement automation for smoother scaling
Tech stacks and software can be a major asset when it comes time to scale your team. Here are some of the programs we use at Albacross that have helped us grow with more efficiency:
GONG is a tool I used in my past position, so it was top of my list when I started to build the team. For the AE team, we incorporated GONG to support coaching, sales enablement and shared insights with the rest of the team. This has also become a great tool for our Product and Marketing teams when it comes to sharing knowledge across departments.
This has been a game-changer for our BDR team because they have such a hard job with a large number of tasks to complete each day. Outreach makes it so much easier and smoother for them to perform their daily duties and stay organized.
- “Friday Round-Ups”
Every Friday, we have what we call “Friday Round-Ups” with our entire sales team. This is a time for us to talk about different opportunities that are coming through for our AEs. What’s a good opportunity? How can we improve next week? Basically, a rose/bud/thorn exercise — talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly!
If I could give one piece of advice to another sales leader trying to scale their sales organization, I would say this: if you don’t know the answer, talk to someone who does.
I’m a connector at heart - and this is something my team hears me preach on a consistent basis. Ultimately, find a mentor and seek out opportunities to build your professional network.
- Find leaders on LinkedIn
- Attend networking sessions
- Take classes
- Get social and ask for help!