Growth — as a sales leader, it's what you live for. Growth means new opportunities, new clients and, most importantly, serves as a key indication that your business is trending in the right direction — up.
But while growth can undoubtedly be good for reeling in new revenue, it can also cost you if you're not careful. If you don't scale your staff correctly, you could end up overpaying, underperforming and incurring additional staffing costs as you scramble to bring it all back into balance.
That's a lot of time and money you don't have to waste, so follow these steps to scale your team properly and prepare it for growth.
align with HR
You're good at finding new business. HR is good at finding new people. You're more alike than you think! So if it's been a while since your teams sat down to have a chat, then now's the perfect time to get reacquainted.
In order to successfully scale your sales team for growth, you need to be able to predict your staffing levels. You don't want any headcount hiccups down the line, especially once your new initiative is in full swing. Hire too many people, and you'll end up having to reduce headcount. Hire too few, and your existing staff will become overworked, burned out and unable to provide adequate support.
the more detail you can give HR about your staffing needs, the smoother the hiring process will be.
As soon as you get the green light on a new growth initiative, set up a meeting with HR to communicate:
Your vision for expansion: Detail your departmental goals for growth. What are you hoping to achieve? What does the ideal end-result look like for your team, and how does it fit into the company's growth strategy?
The nature of the venture: Are you pursuing bigger clients, or branching out into a new territory or market — and at what scale? Will you need to establish a new field headquarters, or can sales ops be managed from your current location?
Quantify your hiring needs: Can a few account executives get the job done, or will more management and operational support be needed? Look to similar past initiatives to arrive at a headcount estimate to give HR and see if their own calculations match.
hire right the first time
When it finally comes time to hire, don't ignore soft skills. A candidates' selling style is worth just as much as the revenue they've generated over the years — especially if you're looking for sales people who can blend in with your team and hit the ground running.
When you have big plans in place, you don't have time to waste on poor-fit hires who don't mesh well with your team. Besides the high costs of replacement (which can be as much as 21% of an employee's annual salary) removing a new recruit hurts team morale and slows momentum.
replacing a bad hire could cost you 21% of an employee's annual salary.
Numbers are important of course, but if a seller's working style or personality don't gel with the rest of your team, then it's unlikely they'll be able to repeat their success with your company. To find the right fit:
Address your team's gaps: Do you have more deal-closers than you know what to do with? If that's the case, try selecting for personalities more suited to lead nurturing or generation to address your weaknesses further up the funnel.
Understand your leadership style: How do you and your managers operate? Are there any commonalities in working style between your best sellers that could give you clues about the traits needed to succeed on your team?
Include your team: Culture fit is a question of chemistry, so open up the interview process to other members of your team to get their opinions on candidates and their compatibility.
build a lean, mean training machine
You've figured out the numbers and found the right people, but the work is far from over. How well (and quickly) you and your team are able to get new hires up to selling speed is important to maintaining a steady growth rate. After all, you hired new people to make an impact. So the longer it takes for your new recruits to get into a position where they can start making a difference, the longer your business's needs will go unaddressed.
Organizations that formalized their onboarding processes were able to get 50 percent more productivity from their new employees, so there's a lot you could potentially be leaving on the table if you skip this step in your scaling strategy.
creating a standardized onboarding process could net you 50% more productivity from your new recruits.
Here's what to do:
Assign a point person: Or people, depending on the size of your hiring needs. If HR can hire or spare someone to lead onboarding and training, that's all the better. But if not, choose a leader from your team to own the process.
Outline your onboarding process: Work with your point person to cover everything you expect a new hire to know. Don't be afraid to deviate from some of the traditional onboarding guidelines. Every team is different, and knowing what to leave out can be just as important as knowing what to include, especially if you're trying to get new hires up to speed quickly.
Standardize and enforce: Once you or one of your managers have settled on a defined onboarding process, standardize it and stick to the script. Having an established onboarding process will save you time, and ensure your new recruits get the training they need to become productive members of your sales team.
Scaling your staffing strategy to align with growth is challenging, but by following these steps and maintaining open lines of communication with HR, you'll be able to start adding new hires at a rate that's right for your business.
But scaling for growth is just one small part of a well-designed staffing strategy, and the more components you can cover in your hiring plan, the better apt your organization will be at finding and retaining talent.