If you’re like most young B2B tech companies, building your sales team with the perfect mix of talent and experience can be a challenge.
We’re in a highly competitive space with a diverse customer base and nuanced sales cycle, after all.
Maybe you’re looking to rapidly scale? Perhaps you’re a startup that just received funding to build out your team? You could even be considering outsourcing your B2B sales development to quickly fill your pipeline with high-velocity leads.
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However you intend to gain a foothold and develop your sales team, it’s tough to know where to point the firehose so it hits the perfect go-to-market strategy. And while even some of the best tech companies sometimes struggle to find that sales sweet spot, there are some proven strategies to show you how to build your B2B sales team. The first is creating an effective B2B sales structure.
Define Your Roles for a Strong B2B Sales Structure
Assembling the ideal B2B sales team starts with just that—hiring/assembling your key players. While there are a few different sales team structures, we recommend the “assembly line” for B2B tech sales. This breaks your team into four different and complementary groups:
- Lead generation. Focused on the top of funnel, this area of your B2B sales team should be skilled in identifying and gathering names, phone numbers, emails, data, and mining/developing as many legitimate leads as possible.
- Sales Development Representatives (SDRs). After your lead gen team has gone outbound to develop a solid pool of prospects, your SDRs—aka qualifiers/prospectors—should be in place to reach out and qualify the leads based on customer need and persona data.
- Account Executives (AEs). After the SDR has deemed the lead(s) worth the time and effort to pursue, AEs are responsible for sealing the deal. This is done through follow-up calls, product demos, and customer-centric conversations meant to answer questions and ultimately close the sale.
- Customer success team. Any B2B tech sales team built the right way understands that the customer relationship doesn’t end at the sale. The customer success team is a key segment of the sales team, tasked with account management to foster an exceptional customer experience. This is critical in creating brand ambassadors out of your customers while fostering loyalty, gaining referrals, and increasing the lifetime value (LTV) of each customer.
This type of B2B sales structure will not only create predictability for your business, but the advanced specialization will increase efficiency throughout the sales cycle.
Even when you have the ideal role-based sales structure in place, getting the right people to fill the roles can sometimes be a challenge. When it comes to sales, most everyone you interview will have that “can-do” attitude. But how many of them are truly passionate about your product/service? Are they personable? Self-motivated? Organized?
If you want a world-class B2B sales team, it’s going to take the perfect mix of knowledge, talent, and experience.
Hunters over farmers.
One of the biggest mistakes young B2B tech companies make when building their sales team is bringing in all farmers and no hunters.
In the beginning stages where an outbound sales strategy is critical, you want to make sure your sales development team has a good amount of reps who are fiercely independent and self-motivated. The lead gen segment of your team in particular needs to be made up of people who enjoy the “thrill of the hunt” and are always hungry to chase down new business.
Farmer type sales reps certainly have their place, but their talents and experience lean more toward tending to and growing current customers into larger accounts. While that is crucial to business growth, the pipeline often goes dry when the rolodex runs out.
Hunter’s will keep a steady influx of new leads coming in—the key for top tech companies building a B2B sales team.
Get diverse people with unique skillsets.
As you’re building your team for the first time in an effort to scale your business, enlisting the help of a sales development partner can boost the performance of the entire business.
By mobilizing your B2B sales team and creating that perfect blend of skill and personality, sales development can help grow and nurture the full spectrum of leads in your funnel. Because your funnel will be full of a diverse set of leads each with unique challenges and pain points, B2B sales reps should be just as unique and diverse. Try to create a team that blends introverts, extroverts, inside AEs and customer success reps—perhaps with outsourced lead gen and SDRs.
By combining and sharing different perspectives and proven sales techniques, you’re much more likely to build trust and credibility, relate to your customers, and stand above your competition.
Make sure you have just as many openers as closers.
ABO—Always Be Opening.
That’s right, opening is the new closing.
When your lead gen team and SDRs are prospecting and generating an influx of quality leads, starting the conversation is every bit as important as finishing it. It’s during the initial stages where you’ll establish credibility, gain trust, and show the prospective buyer you’re an industry thought leader who has answers to their questions and solutions to their problems.
This is a skill that not all salespeople have, so remember when you’re assembling the perfect B2B sales team: you can teach an opener to close, but it’s much more difficult to teach a closer to open.
Invest in training and onboarding.
A surefire way to fail when building your B2B sales team is to offer inconsistent training, or worse, no training at all. In fact, a report by the Bridge Group discovered that the average sales rep tenure is now 1.5 years, down from 3 years in 2010. While some of that can be attributed to leaving for higher-paying opportunities, a lack of training and clear definition of expectations from the outset also cause sales team turnover.
The average sales rep tenure is now 1.5 years, down from 3 years in 2010.
Your onboarding process should be detailed and structured — covering specific team guidelines, training on use and best practices with your systems and tech stacks, and most importantly, a deep and nuanced understanding of your current accounts and target customers.
Good B2B sales development is all about identifying, connecting with, and qualifying leads. So it stands to reason that the top front-end sales teams need a crystal clear understanding of their target audience. What are their pain points? Top challenges? Buying triggers? Finding the things that your target markets actually care about is really about finding ways to truly relate and empathize with prospective customers.
In B2B technology sales, knowledge is power, so be sure your onboarding process dives deep into all the sales methodologies and audience persona data to help your team succeed.
Define Your Sales Strategy
When building a B2B sales team like the top tech companies, clearly defining your sales strategy is every bit as important as defining your team’s structure and roles.
A solid strategy and clear vision provides the base upon which your team is built. Smaller teams may live and breathe your vision, totally aligned around common objectives. As you grow your team, it’s important the vision doesn’t become blurred and everyone truly understands why you exist, what your value proposition is, and how you’re helping solve a problem within your target market.
Consider outsourcing to build your B2B sales team.
Often, an intentional and streamlined strategy custom-fit to your goals and sales performance structure is enhanced by outsourcing segments of your sales operations. Outside SDRs can become a valuable extension of your team on many levels, helping young B2B sales companies ramp up quickly and reducing your risk with guaranteed results.