Scaling a Tech Sales Team

The process of scaling a business is any entrepreneur’s dream. At the heart of any organisation lies the people within, none of which should be considered more pivotal during this phase than the sales team. The influence of this division can be the difference between success and failure for a scaling business. A tech sales team must have the ability to clearly articulate the proposition, whether specifically dealing in hardware, software, or SaaS. This is even more crucial for organisations that are creating a product or service that is new for clients and often transformational to their way of work. On top of this, the recent economic shift which has reduced the appetite for investment into growing tech companies, there is more focus on efficient growth and a route to profitability. When combined, these factors bring into sharp focus the need for effective sales teams that run efficiently and get up to speed quickly. We explore some of the recent challenges from clients on how to structure a sales team focusing on culture, hiring and scaling the message.

 

The Sales Unit’s Internal Environment: Culture

Creating a Scalable Sales Message & Proposition

It is natural in any expanding team for the external, later hires to possess a reduced degree of connection with the organisation in comparison to the founding employees. With every hire increasing the gap between new recruits and the founding team, (i.e. CRO or original sales individuals), additional scaling only dissipates this connection further. Whilst this does not pose as an imminent threat to the effectiveness of the division, to fully capitalise on this stage of the company’s lifecycle a degree of shared passion and knowledge for the mission of company should be ingrained across the function. Consequently, new recruits will be better suited to effectively explain the need for the product, often to solve/improve client procedures, through emphasising the core reason for the company’s existence. Firms should consider designing and implementing an onboarding and training scheme, led by the founding sales team members. Fulfilled irrespective of the new recruit’s seniority, this initiative will increase the chances of these shared values remaining amongst the wider group.

Competition vs Collaboration

Additionally, CRO’s should also centre attention around the broader culture within the sales division. Although internal competition can be considered an effective environment for superior sales performance, through motivating employees whilst discouraging inefficiency, it can be at the detriment of intra-team collaboration. Conversely, collaboration within sales is arguably an even more powerful component, fostering effective teamwork amongst the function. A collaborative culture enables group learning from peer-to-peer, an environment of our competitive advantage’ rather than my competitive advantage’, with individuals collectively pushing the organisation forward. Despite the contradictory nature of the two, competitive and collaborative cultures are not mutually exclusive. To really position a salesforce for future success, a culture of both should be developed, encouraging internal collaboration combined with external competition. This can be achieved by placing greater emphasis on group sales figures, rather than ostracising the low performers. Alternatively, intra-function teams could be devised, setting the foundations for healthy internal competition, without compromising collaboration. Furthermore, efforts should be made to maintain this balanced culture not only within the office but in an online setting, with more and more companies adopting remote working into their operations.

Once again, operating within the tech industry only increases the necessity for a multi-dimensional sales culture. By moving core priority away from individual performance, focus can be shifted regarding the nature of sales acquisition strategies. As opposed to salespeople solely looking to reach and close new clients, in the attempt to remain internally competitive, greater attention can also be offered to existing customers. While acquisition of new clients is imperative to any business, the longevity of current clients to a tech firm (e.g. dealing in enterprise software) is equally as important. Recurring revenues are a fundamental component of the industry, with many SaaS services being offered on subscription models. Therefore, a well-developed culture will incentivise both revenue streams to be maximised by simultaneously capturing new market share, in addition to maintaining and upgrading current subscriptions. Hence, fostering sustainable commercial growth.

Embedding Culture & Performance through Hiring

A key driving factor of a sales division’s internal environment is the hiring process itself. CRO’s must consider the basis in which new recruits are screened, as each additional hire will contribute towards the performance and behaviours of the team. Mis-hires can be both disruptive and expensive, whilst excellent hires can springboard the business’ growth. Until recently, the hiring process for sales teams has focused on prior track record and the client book they are able to bring. Consequently, this places a high premium on individuals with experience, whilst offering no certainty that they will be able to sell your product or contribute positively to the wider team culture. For high growth start-ups, this can reflect a challenging dilemma when attempting to achieve growth efficiency and better ROIs on hires. Thankfully, assessment methodology has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. Here at Beaumont Bailey, alongside our Assessment partners and Intelligence platform, candidates are assessed more holistically in line with the existing team, industry benchmarks and core competencies. While a degree of fit can be judged via face-to-face conversations, this industry leading multi-measure methodology provides an objective scale to ensure growing companies are more likely to make outstanding hires, not only in terms of competency but, vitally, cultural fit.

Ultimately, the success of scaling a tech sales division lies in a combination of both the internal and external components. Although diversity within colleagues should never be discouraged, often fostering innovative practices, cultural fit between incoming hires, and the refined internal environment must be at the forefront of any CRO’s mind. The fundamentals placed at this stage set the foundations for the organisations’ future prosperity, an opportunity that must be optimised.