A digital sales team has to know more than how to sell. They need to know how to put together integrated digital solutions that solve the challenges their prospects are facing. And they have to have the talent to be successful. Here are five things you need to consider when you're building a digital sales team.
1. Set expectations early and often.
From job posting to making an offer, be up front with expectations. Make sure your job posting is clear and concise, focusing on the core talents and skills needed in the position. The more you can include about the type of candidate you are looking for, the fewer non-qualified candidates will apply. Consider using phrases like, "Do you get a kick out of solving complex problems?" or "Do you love convincing people to do it your way?" versus "The ideal candidate will propose integrated digital solutions to a number of different advertisers and meet or exceed revenue goals."
2. Hire for talent and fit first.
Some of the best salespeople and managers I meet often began their careers in media other than digital, or in B2B sales. The right talent can learn new skills and products easily. On the flip side, I have met sales people and managers with lots of tenure at digital companies—but when the hiring was based on experience alone, I rarely see them last more than a year or two. Don't spin your wheels on highly-experienced, yet less talented candidates. You'll get way more mileage out of your new team if you hire for talent and fit first and experience second. When hiring managers, make sure some of the talents they have are the ability to coach and to grow a sales organization. I know more people who can fill out a spreadsheet or report and fewer who can lead a start-up team to success. Don't settle. Make coaching and development a priority.
3. Have a planned training program in place.
If you follow my advice and hire for talent first, you'll have yourself a team of salespeople who will most likely LOVE and respect structured training opportunities for growth and development. Your plan will vary based on how the team you've hired shakes out, but the right manager—the right coach—will be able to create a plan that maximizes the talent of your team.
4. Make sure all resources are fully in place and accessible.
The days of the three-year or five-year digital start-up plan are becoming less forgiving when it comes to generating revenue. Digital is no longer new. In addition, talented salespeople and managers are also less forgiving when it comes to being able to hit attainable goals with the resources you have in place. A highly productive team won't last long if they are unable to be productive. Make sure you have the right account support, product development and reporting or trafficking systems in place and make sure all the leaders in those departments understand your sales goals and your vision for how they will be attained.
5. Be flexible on the experience one brings to the team.
I feel the need to reiterate that experience is not always what it's cracked up to be. In all the consulting I have done, I have seen both the talented with little to no experience and the non-talented with 5+ years of experience under their belt. Whether it's sales or management, the talented typically perform, while the not-so-talented are usually on probation before quitting or being fired. And, I see that within the first year or two. If you are able to recruit a talented AND experienced candidate, then by all means, make it happen! But also be cautious while interviewing, and look for talent first.
Building a new sales team is an overwhelming task, I know. But follow the five steps above, and you'll spend less time staying up at night wondering how you'll hit those digital budgets and more time continuing to strategize for growth.