Few business domains require employees to hit the ground running quite like sales. New sales teams have no time to waste: The hunt for clients begins immediately. Even if they’re expected to move at a breakneck pace from the word “go,” newly formed sales teams will still need some help.
Every sales team is different. Learning from some of the issues that have stifled others, however, can help you avoid their hiccups. Here are some of the most common struggles that freshman sales teams face, along with some potential solutions:
1. When to Reach Out
Seasoned salespeople have developed an instinct for the right time to reach out to a contact. For new salespeople, that instinct may take a while to develop: They don’t want to reach out too soon after the first contact, lest they appear desperate. They also may be hesitant to wait too long and risk losing the potential client to someone else.
Though knowledge will come with experience, there’s no need to leave your team guessing. Consider implementing an email tracking tool with your sales team. Email trackers allow your sales team to see who is opening their emails, who is reading them, and when all of that happens.
Outreach shouldn’t be based on guesswork. Your new sales team can time follow-ups perfectly in order to ensure no one slips through the cracks.
2. How to Find a Good Lead
One of the first hurdles a brand-new team will encounter is how to find the right prospects. They don’t have the benefit of knowing your company and what clients you usually bring in. And even the best sales teams won’t be able to get far if they can’t access quality leads.
Developing your lead-generating infrastructure should be one of your first tasks. Pair your new team members with more experienced employees for a short mentorship period. More experienced leaders on your team should be able to guide the sales team to the right leads.
Also, make sure new hires have access to information about existing customers from day one. A customer relationship manager, database, or other system to organize client information should be easily accessible by all your sales employees. By studying existing relationships and your sales funnel, your new team will learn which leads to pursue.
3. What Questions to Ask
Once your team knows who to contact and when to contact them, they have to figure out what to say. Something that can stall or set back a sales team is knowing which questions to ask. An inexperienced salesperson may get hung up on asking about the wrong details or pursuing irrelevant information.
Any missteps here can become serious time-wasters, decreasing the likelihood of a successful sale later on. Prevent aimless wandering through questions by making sure your sales efforts are well informed and your prospects well researched.
Work with the team to develop a shared resource of guiding questions that get results. Consider making a loose script: something that salespeople can draw upon when needed but can’t use as a crutch. While each sales conversation is unique, starting a new team with some guidelines will help train them for success.
4. What to Do When Someone Says “No”
Seasoned salespeople, even the best ones, know what rejection feels like. For a new salesperson, hearing a “no” from customers can be demoralizing. They may lose focus or waste time trying to get the sale back. This, in turn, can cause them to ignore other leads and customers, putting those deals in jeopardy as well.
Make sure your team is prepared to accept the occasional failure. No one is going to make every sale they attempt. Work with your sales managers to provide coaching to your team, as the right coaching will show that ‘no’ is an acceptable answer to a pitch.
You can also use coaching to identify what went wrong and how it can be avoided in the future. In fact, most salespeople appreciate a good coach. So much so that 60% of salespeople say they would leave a job if their manager is a poor coach. If a sale can’t be closed, it can at least be learned from.
5. How to Stay Motivated
Sales is a boom and bust game: when times are good, working is easy. When things go south, though, it can be tough to stay motivated. Because of their inexperience, new sales teams are particularly susceptible to the effects that highs and lows have on motivation. Finding ways to stay motivated will be essential to your new team.
As a leader, it’s your job to prevent spiraling at all costs. One way to do this is by meeting with each team member and setting achievable sales goals. Taking a more hands-on approach shows you care about their individual accomplishments in addition to the overall sales benchmarks. Having goals in place also sets a realistic expectation of what success looks like, allowing for a steady drip of motivation.
6. How to Maintain Relationships
You can have a team of highly qualified salespeople bursting with leads to follow up on, but none of that matters if they can’t handle relationships. Well-managed customer relationships are the cornerstone of sales. New salespeople may not have a background in satisfying long-term customers.
Sales training often solely focuses on getting and making sales without considering what comes next. Your team may know how to close the deal, but that’s never enough.
To address this, create a system that allows you and your sales team to follow up with customers regularly. Automation notifications, surveys, check-in emails, or whatever else keeps your clientele engaged with you well beyond the handshake.
The right software for sales management can also help your sales team track engagement levels and see when it might be time for an upsell. Human connection may be key, but technology can still lend a helping hand.
When it comes to starting a new sales team, the margin for error is razor thin. Understanding the common pitfalls and how to address them is a start, but constant vigilance is required. With the proper support, you can start your new sales team on the journey to becoming veterans.