Digital sales teams today have to know more than how to sell. They need to understand how to develop integrated solutions that produce the business results the accounts they work with want. And they need to have the talent to be successful.
If you are in the process of building a digital sales team or upgrading your current team, here are five things you should consider.
1. Set Expectations Early and Often
From recruitment to selection, be upfront 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 want, the fewer non-qualified candidates will apply. Consider using phrases like, "Do you enjoy 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 businesses and meet or exceed revenue goals."
2. Hire for Talent and Fit First
Talent and fit should always take priority over experience alone. Some of the best salespeople and managers I’ve worked with didn’t begin their careers in digital media. Highly talented candidates can be taught the features and benefits of your products as well as your internal systems and be wildly successful.
On the flip side, I’ve seen countless examples of salespeople and managers with lots of tenure at digital companies that are hired based on experience alone, and I rarely see them last more than a year or two. Resist the urge to focus on highly experienced yet less talented candidates – and experience only means they are expensive, not good.
You'll get 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 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 sure coaching and development are a priority.
3. Have a Planned Training Program in Place
If you 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 the team you have put into place, 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
A highly productive team won't last long if they are unable to be productive. Digital is no longer new.
Talented salespeople and managers are less forgiving when it comes to being able to hit attainable goals if they do not have the resources and processes in place to support them. Make sure you have the right account support, product development, fulfillment, and reporting support or systems in place.
Additionally, make sure all 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 want to reiterate that experience is not always what it's cracked up to be. 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 it is common to see that within the first year or two.
Building a new sales team is undoubtedly an overwhelming task. 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.
*Editor's Note: This blog was originally written in 2017 and has since been updated.