How to Build — And Scale — A Successful Sales Team

by Alton Zenon III
November 26, 2019

As companies scale, so do the challenges sales leaders face in bringing in new talent to drive revenue for the business. Leaders have to find salespeople that understand the intricacies of the product they're selling, while also being culture fits in a fast-growing team.

“Emotional intelligence and IQ are equally important,” said Happy Returns Co-founder and CEO David Sobie. “A knowledge of the industry is also a plus.” 

Once a new teammate is hired, a solid foundation of best sales practices needs to be built during the onboarding process, which will impact their long-term success at the company. And continual coaching and mentorship are key to enhancing teammates' skills and strategy along their career journeys, Sobie added.

No part of the hiring process happens by chance. And leaders at Flexport and Happy Returns said intentionality is a common thread throughout their hiring process. Here's what they had to say about their experiences setting up a sales team for success amid rapid change: 

 

Flexport team members in group photo
Flexport

What happens when you have hiring and onboarding processes that are documented every step of the way and are repeatable across dozens of offices spread across three continents?

According to Director of Sales John Huelskamp, you get Flexport’s standardized method of hiring and training new salespeople. 

 

You’ve worked in sales for almost 15 years. What’s your blueprint for scaling a successful team?

We have had to adapt our blueprint as we’ve transitioned through many phases of growth. But the five key tenets of this blueprint are our people, process, goals, enablement and culture. Hiring talented people requires a deep understanding of the unique qualities and characteristics that lead to success at a company. We prioritize candidates that are personable, intelligent and coachable. We also look for candidates that demonstrate grit, tenacity and passion.

Over the years, we’ve continued to refine our sales process so that it’s clear, repeatable, data-driven and supported by the right tools and systems. Similarly, employee goals need to be clear, realistic and aligned with company objectives. When goals are set correctly, you reward top performers and maintain a high level of motivation across your team.

We try to create as many coaching opportunities for new hires as possible.”

 

When scaling, how do you ensure your team doesn’t lose the elements that made it so successful in the first place? 

We’re constantly trying to improve how we onboard, train and enable our new hires to have as much success as possible. Learning styles can vary, so we blend classroom-style training during a new hire’s first few weeks in “Flexport Academy” with local enablement through a curriculum that covers departments across our LA office. 

We try to create as many coaching opportunities for new hires as possible, so our sales culture emphasizes shadowing, role-playing and team-selling. We also encourage collaboration more than competition. 

 

Happy Returns team in group photo
happy returns

Happy Returns partners with retailers to make customers’ product-returns easy.

Co-founder and CEO David Sobie said that spirit of cooperation is also taken up by the company’s sales and marketing teams, who collaborate often to drive value for the business. 

 

As an experienced leader, what elements do you see as being most important in scaling a sales team?

Having a leader who sets the bar high is important. Who do sales professionals want to be like as their careers progress? Someone that prioritizes strategy execution, keeps the team on target, is tied at the hip with the marketing and customer success teams and who brings crucial field information back to company leadership.

We also hire people with a history of high performance, a passion for our mission and a competitive drive to win. Emotional intelligence and IQ are equally important. A knowledge of the industry is also a plus.

Having a leader who sets the bar high is important.”

 

When scaling, how do you ensure your team doesn’t lose the elements that made it so successful in the first place? 

We obsess over the basics. We have weekly pipeline reviews, one-on-ones and shadowings. The marketing team attends our important meetings and we attend theirs. We also have monthly messaging and content syncs for sales training. Everything we do comes back to your values. Is the team complaining about prospect and customer demands? Then it’s time to revisit our strategy.

 

 

Jobs from companies in this blog4 open jobs
All Jobs
Dev + Engineer
Project Mgmt
Sales
Sales
new
Flexport
Los Angeles
Project Mgmt
new
Flexport
Los Angeles
Sales
new
Happy Returns
Santa Monica
Developer
new
Happy Returns
Santa Monica

Los Angeles startup guides

LOCAL GUIDE
Best Companies to Work for in Los Angeles
LOCAL GUIDE
Best Software Engineer Jobs in Los Angeles
LOCAL GUIDE
Coolest Tech Offices in Los Angeles
LOCAL GUIDE
Best Sales Jobs in Los Angeles
LOCAL GUIDE
Best Perks at Los Angeles Tech Companies
LOCAL GUIDE
Best Marketing Jobs in Los Angeles
LOCAL GUIDE
Your Guide to Virtual Reality Tech in Los Angeles
LOCAL GUIDE
Your Guide to Media Tech in Los Angeles