How To Grow a Sales Team


Recruit & retain top sales talent strategically. Find good salespeople, graduate schemes & sales outsourcing.

Sales team turnover is an issue facing many businesses. High-performing, motivated sales professionals are scarce⁠—and when they are discovered, it’s always the case that they want to work for the best companies. As a result, top sales talent will look for roles where they feel like their skills are being nurtured, they’re being well-compensated for their expertise, and where leadership and management teams can lay out a clear path for career progression.

The problem with this staff turnover is that the sales team is crucial in reaching prospects and existing customers. Their role is to increase revenue, build lasting relationships with internal and external stakeholders, and encourage key demographics to share in their employer’s wide-ranging vision, thereby building brand reputation.

This is why businesses must take a strategic approach to recruiting salespeople. The first step is to create an in-depth job description and person specification for your open sales opportunities. But how do you connect with these motivated and ambitious professionals once you’ve done this?

In this article, we’ll explore where to find good salespeople and some important considerations to make as part of the hiring process before looking closely at attracting early-career reps through a graduate sales scheme. We’ll also cover addressing urgent business needs through sales outsourcing services before discussing how businesses can retain talent once they’ve built their sales team.

Where to Find Good Salespeople

So, you’ve got your hiring plan in place, and leadership are on board with the long-term investment of recruiting a talented salesperson. Firstly, though, is answering the question of where to find good salespeople.

With the wealth of digital and communication technologies now available, discovering the best salespeople has become a less time-consuming task⁠—but employers still need to take care to focus on some significant aspects of their vacant sales jobs to ensure that they can attract these candidates once they’ve found them.

1. LinkedIn

Businesses and hiring managers can leverage their professional network via LinkedIn to discover sales team talent. The platform makes it easy to find professionals actively seeking out roles through its “Looking For Work” banner and profile picture filter, meaning parsing through candidates can quickly be carried out.

Similarly, hiring managers can join a sales-focused group through LinkedIn. Whilst the members of this group may not be actively seeking out a new role, they will widen the candidate pool by sharing the role with their professional peers. It’s important that engaging with these groups is done honestly and organically since they’re unlikely to want to assist someone simply spamming job opportunities.

2. Networking With Existing Customers and External Stakeholders

A company’s existing customers and external stakeholders may not seem the first place to search for new sales hires. Despite this, customers and stakeholders are strong advocates for a business's product or service and will often want to support the organisations in helping them reach their goals. 

In regular touchpoints with a customer or stakeholder, a manager could drop an email letting them know they want to scale up their sales team. Providing a link to a position on a jobs board or the company website means your clients can share it with their professional network, helping to expand your reach.

3. Using a Jobs Board 

Using a jobs board like Indeed or TotalJobs can be a way to capture several CVs and applications, as well as make promoting your brand, product or service easier. A hiring manager will, however, need to parse through these applications⁠ and connect with the most relevant candidates, which can require a considerable time investment. 

Many job boards are now making this task of parsing through CVs easier for employers by allowing them to incorporate quizzes, aptitude tests and applicant-tracking software. Still, these features are often sold at a premium for users, so weighing up the pros of using a jobs board⁠—getting your position before as many eyes as possible⁠—with the cons is important.

4. Using the Services of a Sales-Specific Recruiting Firm

Utilising the services of a specialised recruitment agency when hunting for professionals to fill out your sales team can be beneficial. Many sales recruiters will work closely with their clients to understand their specific needs, helping to cut down on time-to-hire and onboarding, as well as helping to reduce staff turnover by only putting forward the most suitable candidates. 

If the recruitment firm has a solid reputation, you can rest assured that it’ll be diligent about only sourcing the best sales talent. Moreover, the consultants working for the major sales recruitment agencies will have diverse and expansive personal networks, able to access sales reps that aren’t actively searching for jobs. 

Attracting Top Sales Team Talent

Once you've discovered candidates for your sales team opportunities, your leadership teams must come together to ensure that the role and business are presented attractively. All employees must be consistent on what's needed from the ideal candidate in this role, and this consistency is crucial in scaling up a sales team and ensuring the right candidate is hired for the job.

There are many sales jobs out there, so making certain that these professionals will want to attend interviews and eventually accept an offer means that you’ll need to consider several factors: 

  • Successful sales team members need to know why they’re coming to the office each day. A business must ensure its salespeople connect emotionally with the product or service. Answering why your product is essential is one key to attracting motivated and ambitious sales experts. Competitiveness must always meet with passion.

  • Sales professionals want to join companies which have defined a solid sales culture. It’s not enough to state what that culture is⁠—all of your employees and leaders need to live it. A sales team will work more cohesively if this sales culture is underpinned by documented, living processes flexible enough to respond to the market and technological innovations. 

  • In the interview environment, every member of the sales team—from the hiring manager to the senior staff that are discussing culture—needs to be asking themselves the question of whether the candidate sitting before them is excited and motivated and how they could see them progressing into a future leadership or specialist role. This will help steer the conversation and ensure it remains focused on business requirements.

Once the ideal candidate has been found and an offer has been made, it’s essential to make sure there’s a clear, well-structured onboarding process to help them hit the ground running as the start date rolls around. This could be done by creating a detailed onboarding pack that explores the company's main aspects and internal processes or through a mentorship system in which new hires are placed with an experienced sales team member.

Growing a Sales Team Using a Graduate Sales Scheme

On the other hand, you may wish to fill several entry-level roles to bulk up an established sales team that some mid or late-career professionals staff. Developing a graduate sales scheme is one way of achieving this goal, helping businesses gain several motivated and ambitious early-career salespeople eager to make an impact and experience everything a workplace has to offer. 

By hiring graduates, sales training can shape them into the ideal candidates they need on their team. While doing this can take time, this kind of up-skilling should be perceived as an investment in the long-term resiliency of the business. Nurturing sales talent this way will improve their confidence, empowering them to succeed throughout their careers and fostering a sense of commitment to the company among your graduate hires. 

Graduates can often be worried about the targets-driven environment of a high-performance sales team. Still, through this coaching and additional mentorship, they can draw on the experience of your current talent to gain insight into how to work efficiently and productively. In addition, your mentors can help candidates on a graduate sales scheme to put in place industry best practices, setting them up for the increasingly-digital world of sales.

When hiring early-career professionals for a graduate sales scheme, it’s important not to look for the specific skills your sales team needs but to hire diverse candidates that embody the core competencies that the role, product or service demands. This allows you to upskill your graduates, giving them the expertise they need to address any anticipated issues that might arise in the future.

Discover more about our Sales Graduates

Sales Outsourcing Helps You to Grow an Effective Team Quickly

What if you do need to address an urgent need, however? If getting a permanent employee up to speed can take several weeks, and hiring graduates is playing a long-term game of building resiliency for the future, how can managers get the help they need right now

Rather than trying to find a “unicorn” employee with the right blend of skills and aptitude, businesses can consider hiring a fixed-term contractor to help with pressing matters and provide some relief to permanent employees. 

Outsourcing members of a sales team and hiring contractors is more than just in the remit of big companies. Since these professionals don’t need to go through the same level of rigorous training and onboarding as permanent employees, it can allow businesses of any size to respond quickly to issues of capacity or competency.

Similarly, organisations looking to scale up and enter new markets can test the waters by utilising overseas contractors, extending their global or national reach since these professionals can be in a different location than your current office.

Explore more about Sales Contracting

Working with a Sales Outsourcing Agency

Any good sales outsourcing agency will analyse the current state of your sales team to ensure that contract hires will be a good fit, expanding on the skills your team might not have strengths in. A sales recruitment consultant will analyse your offering and scale-up goals before devising a go-to-market strategy that maximises your return on investment for a new hire’s time and resources, helping the hired contractor generate revenue and value rapidly.

They can also handle compliance and payroll duties for these contractors, ensuring they’re paid on time if your current HR department cannot. Since a sales consultant will likely have worked with their pool of contractors before, they’ll be able to communicate your expectations clearly and effectively with these candidates, ensuring that high-quality results are delivered from the beginning of the working relationship.

Whilst utilising the services of a contractor can be more costly, it’s important to remember that as a business, you’re investing in the time-served skills and expertise of these professionals. Furthermore, since they already have experience in the industry, they can be hired for a specialised purpose, such as account management, lead tracking or negotiations. 

It’s important to ensure that freelancers and contractors feel like sales team members, whether working remotely alongside other contractors or in-office with your permanent employees. This is critical to strong engagement with your business's product or service, leading to high productivity and increased sales.

The Key to Retaining Employees: Don’t Lose Your Top Sales Talent

With economic analysts noting that the “Great Resignation” is underway, businesses across all industries are struggling to retain their staff. But, with sales experts in high demand, how can a company ensure they can retain their new hires and have a long and productive working relationship with them? 

Research conducted by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company throughout the COVID-19 pandemic discovered that whilst many employers believe that compensation and work-life balance are at the root of this Great Resignation, data gathered from exit interviews with leavers suggests a different story: one of feeling like their skills and experience aren’t valued, and a sense of not belonging in their sales team. 

How can employers address this before it becomes a significant source of attrition? 

There are three key areas businesses can focus on to reduce staff turnover and improve employee well-being, all of which are connected and require a holistic strategy to implement. 

1. Improving Diversity, Equality & Inclusion

Improving DE&I isn’t about simply meeting an arbitrary metric or your social responsibility as an employer. Instead, it’s vital to ensure that all of the talented professionals on your sales team feel that their workplace reflects the diverse culture of their place. 

When an employee is mentored by someone from a similar background or internal marketing materials highlight a diverse workplace, candidates feel more inclined to apply to those companies. So not only does having women in the c-suite change how companies think, but it can also help to attract more talented women to sales roles across all levels of seniority.

2. Providing Learning & Development Opportunities

By improving learning and development opportunities, businesses can show their employees that they care for them and will continue to nurture their skills. In addition, providing routes for internal progression and career advancement and coaching staff for productivity and creativity through regular 1-2-1s can significantly decrease sales team staff turnover. 

Giving staff a plan and guiding them to achieve their goals can help them to embrace collaboration with their colleagues. It’s important that alongside this focus on L&D, you’re also assessing the market and increasing wages to remain competitive—or you’re hiring a consultant to conduct this research. Make sure to solicit the sales team's buy-in before making any changes.

3. Fostering a People-Centric Workplace

Fostering a people-centric workplace benefits sales team retention and is vital to encouraging high levels of productivity and efficiency. Professionals that work for a team where everyone celebrates wins—and staff help each other to get back on track following losses—are likely to feel like they belong and go above and beyond for their colleagues. 

Likewise, letting all employees on the sales team know how their work impacts the company and is meaningful to the broader department can help them communicate their issues with co-workers to resolve them together. Finally, collaboratively overcoming challenges in the workplace is a bonding experience that can contribute to the pleasant office environment that all sales professionals seek. 

Empowering You to Attract the Best People for Your Sales Team

Pareto has provided market-leading sales recruitment and outsourcing support for businesses across all industries for over 25 years. Whether you’re looking to fill an entry-level or senior role, our consultants have access to expansive candidate networks. They can connect you with bright graduates and executive talent that will raise the productivity and efficiency of your sales team. Contact us to discuss your requirements today. 

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