Guest post by Juli Bacon, president, JB Consulting Systems

If your organization is heavily reliant on your sales department, then here are a few things to keep in mind as you grow your sales staff.

Your sales team needs training just like anyone else. Bring in an outside sales and marketing specialist to provide new and innovative ways to generate and close leads. When you roll out a new product or service, have your experts give a presentation to the sales staff during your weekly sales meeting to educate them about the new product. Provide one page handouts with key information, statistics or selling points for them to review and take with them.

Your top sales representative is likely not going to be a good Sales Manager. As your sales staff grows, you may be tempted to take your top sales rep and promote them to Sales Manager. This is often a huge mistake. 1) Because you are going to lose your top sales rep and 2) Because sales reps and sales managers are motivated by different things and have different skills. A good Sales Manager must be able to manage others, provide constructive performance feedback and monitor the overall sales. They are motivated by how well the department does which means they are more likely to encourage and inspire their team to sell more.

Hire a good sales assistant. If you have more than one or two sales reps, you should look at hiring an assistant to process paperwork, follow up loose ends and help the sales reps stay organized. This person does not run for coffee or do personal errands for your sales reps. This person makes sure that once the sale is closed the paperwork is in order so your company can deliver as promised.

Be prepared for more sales. The worst thing you can do to your sales staff is send them out to sell and then not deliver on the back end. Be sure that your systems are in place so you can respond when the sales reps do their job. If you can’t deliver as promised, you will quickly erode trust with your customers and lose market share. Good sales reps will not stay with a company that cannot respond to the sales they bring in.

Put a lot of thought and planning into your compensation plan. As you grow you might be tempted to tweak the commission structure or go from base plus commission to draw plus commission. The more changes you make after you hire your sales reps the more distrust there will be between you and them. I have seen owners change the compensation structure because they think their sales reps are making too much money. You need your sales reps to stay motivated to sell. Clearly outline the expectations for selling and the compensation structure. Are you requiring a certain number of contacts per week, month or quarter, do you require a certain sales amount before the commission percent kicks in, are you going to provide a base salary plus commission or a draw against the commission? What happens if the sales rep quits or is fired? Do they need to sign a Non-Disclosure/Solicitation Agreement? These things need to be determined. It helps if you bring in an outside party or coordinate with your Human Resources department if you have one.

Make sure your sales reps know how to qualify their prospects. This goes back to the sales training. Not every lead is going to be a sale. Your sales reps need to know how to quickly figure out if the lead is a sale or a contact that wants general information. There is a place for both in your organization, but qualifying the lead and moving it to the right department will keep your sales reps selling. Once they qualify the lead, you might want to have a person or department designated as the follow up for leads that are not ready to buy now. If they aren’t ready to buy now, perhaps they want to stay informed about your company, maybe you need to follow up at a later date. You need a system to track and stay in contact with those who aren’t ready to buy now. A good sales and marketing specialist can help you figure out the best strategy to use.