In the past decade, inside sales has been out-pacing field sales by a 10-15x ratio. Scalability is a challenge inside sales leaders will continue to face for years to come.
While I normally focus on building your process, today my job is to talk about the people angle. Although, a good half of my people suggestions are process suggestions! Allow me to highlight the top 3 common pitfalls we have all faced when trying to scale your inside sales team and a few outside resources that can help.
Pitfall #1: The success of a massive growth number will live or die in a rep’s ramp time.
Ramp time means something different to each company. It could be time to quota, paying for their overhead, or something unique to you. Whatever your ramp goal, you’ll be creating projections to hit a 1.5x, 3x or even 5x number and you’ll be doing it with a new headcount.
That means your success hinges on the ability of your headcount to:
- Be hired on time
- Be trained on time
- Hit goal on time
Really dig into your new hire training program, and start doing it six months before your first hiring wave. If you haven’t onboarded recently, check out our sales rep onboarding best practices. And if your offices are still remote, brush up on virtually onboarding new sales reps
Pro Tip: Hire a sales-focused training leader NOW. Most new hire training programs need a LOT of work, and the good ones can cut your ramp time by HALF.
Pitfall #2: We don’t change our hiring process.
Even if you previously onboarded an awesome team that is still with you today, your process likely needs a few tweaks before being pressure-tested during scaling. We usually see breakdowns in two key places:
- The pool isn’t as deep any longer. We are in a hiring crisis, 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 and job postings are similar, you may find the depth of talent more shallow.
- The hiring and onboarding 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), think of how many hours per day they will be in interviews. Ouch!
Pro Tip: Pull hiring out of HR and to a recruiter – even if you need to re-appropriate a sales headcount. You need someone doing passive recruiting on the front end, AND who can handle a phone screen for sales. It’s the only way to free up your managers’ time. Make sure you tie the recruiter’s compensation to the RIGHT hires that align with your goals, instead of fighting a recruiting company’s goal of straight-up bodies. I’ve seen way too many new hire classes filled with “live bodies” by recruiters only to have to rehire a replacement class a month later. Sales leaders, make no mistake, the need to retrain or rehire is how your hiring goals will be 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 a 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 SO (say it like a teenage girl) green. Everyone runs different reports, they all manage 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 beat, but no one remembered to hire the drummer.
Pro Tip: Hire a drummer…as long as that drummer is a series of documented processes (management cadence, performance improvement, sales handoffs, sales process to name a few). 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 leaders (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 (which also happens to be the number one reason reps leave).
So, save yourself some time and a headache by updating your training program, and getting the professionals to help you with hiring, and developing those managers! I promise, the work now will be worth it once your sales floor is full (and stays that way!).
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