How To Scale An Inside Sales Team The Right Way

On Oct 11, New Voice Media, Salesforce, and Factor 8 attack the systems, process, and people challenges of scaling an inside sales team. Inside Sales is out-pacing field sales by a 10-15x ratio these days, so scalability is a common challenge to inside sales leaders. Don’t miss the webinar. Register here.

My job is to talk about the people angle – although a good half of my people suggestions are process suggestions! Allow me to highlight a few common pitfalls and a few additional resources to help you.

Pitfall #1: When you have a massive growth number, it will live or die in Rep ramp time (time to quota / paying for self / goal, however you define it). You’ll be creating projections to hit a 1.5x 3x or even 5x number and you’ll be doing it with headcount. That means your success hinges on the ability for your headcount to:

  • Be hired on time
  • Be trained on time
  • Hit goal on time

Tip: Really dig into your new hire training program, and start six months before your first hiring wave. Watch for signs of a broken onboarding program and take steps eight ways to whip your program into shape (*need link, did this get published on our blog or just salespop? I also want to put the link in the attachments of the webinar, so please send it to me when you have it!). Tip: hire a sales-focuces training leader NOW. Most new hire training programs need a LOT of work, and the good ones can cut your ramp time in HALF.

Pitfall #2: We don’t change our hiring process. Even if you on-boarded an awesome team that is with you today, don’t be fooled that you don’t need a few tweaks before pressure-testing your process for scale. We usually see it break in two ways:

  • The pool isn’t as deep any longer. We have a hiring crisis in our industry folks. Many companies stole great talent when they were new on the scene, but now they’re competing for headcount like everyone else. So even if the number of candidates / posting are similar you may find the depth of talent more shallow.
  • The hiring process wasn’t built for volume and is probably too dependent on your managers (but the slew of new hires on the floor will need them more too!). At launch these managers had all kinds of time to hire. If you triple your model (then double it for the shallow talent pool), how many hours / day will they be in interviews? Ouch.

Tip: Pull hiring out of HR – even if you need to re-appropriate a sales headcount. You need someone doing passive recruiting on the front end, AND who can really handle a phone screen for sales thereby freeing up your managers’ time. Final benefit? You can tie their compensation to the RIGHT hires and align your goals instead of fighting recruiting’s goal of straight-up bodies. I’ve seen way too many new hire classes filled with “live bodies” by recruiting only to have to re-hire that wave a month later. Sales leaders, make no mistake that this is how your hiring goals are perceived in a culture of scale.

Also check your hiring process. It should look like your pipeline with your managers involved only toward the final stages. Oh, and let them hire their own team, OK? (Managers, you can send your cash directly to the Factor 8 HQ for that tip).

Pitfall #3: Develop your Managers now. I’m watching a friend’s floor triple in size right now. They’re crazy-successful and swimming in leads. They need headcount to maximize the revenue. What they’re missing is strong leadership, definitions of what good looks like, and consistency among the management team. And folks, it’s being held together with duct tape and rainbows right now. These managers are soo (say it like a teenage girl) green. Everyone runs different reports, we all manage to a different sales process, there are seven disparate call methodologies, no one can forecast because pipelines are atrocious, teams are mixed and matched constantly (because managers are leaving the chaos!) and no two are managed the same. I’d say they’re all marching to a different drummer, but no one remembered to hire the drummer.

Tip: Hire a drummer. He is a series of documented processes (management cadence, performance improvement, sales handoffs, sales process to name a few) and then TEACH your managers how to execute against them. You and I both know these guys were reps five minutes ago. They need training. They need help being better bosses (or you’ll quickly wind up back at #1 hiring even more bodies). Reps join companies and quit bosses right? New managers are going to FLAIL in a rapid-growth environment, and your reps will be confused, frustrated, and complain about a lack of development – the number one reason reps leave. Check out this video for management training you need.

So, register for the webinar. It’ll be live on October 11th at 12:00pm EST. If you can’t make the live presentation, that’s okay. You’ll get the replay if you’ve registered.