Member Brian Sohmers Speaks: To Scale a Sales Team, Invest in Budding Talent

The Challenge:

In the situation at hand, a business executive was seeking insight into finding highly capable sales account executives to execute on its 2020 revenue growth plan.

If you were in this situation, what would you do?

If I were in this position, I would take the long view and develop my team by hiring the best people I can find who might not have much if any domain experience with my product or industry. To onboard them, I would invest in a formal sales training program aimed at bringing them quickly up the learning curve on our customer needs, our product benefits, and the general industry. I have found that the formula to a successful and scalable sales team is to invest in training – “sales enablement” – and measure their performance early on. Training is expensive, so with established benchmarks in mind I can clearly determine who will be worth the investment and who might have to be let go.

An interesting tactic I might try is group training. Shared perspective is essential in developing well-rounded individual contributors. Within a group setting, I find that employees are encouraged to learn from each other, rise to the challenge and be active participants in sales training. A way to catalyze this dynamic is to provide a group incentive bonus to reward the entire sales team, including experienced members, even though newer employees are still ramping up on the training and experience curve.

A few years ago, I wanted to develop a well-balanced team of both experienced professionals and younger employees just beginning their careers in sales. However, I found that successful salespeople were hesitant to leave a role they were performing well in – why should they start from scratch? To incentivize them to transition onto my team, I offered them a draw on their future sales commissions. It’s not a signing bonus because it's tied to performance, which will keep engagement and motivation high. Best of luck!