Fueling Sales by Building the Best Sales Engine (Part 1)

Defining a sales process and hiring great salespeople are the first steps in addressing the SALES keys that will have a lasting effect on your bottom line.
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Part 1 of 2

Many business owners think that in order to grow their sales they simply need to hire more salespeople. I always joke that this is like improving your marriage by having more kids – without the proper foundation, you are doomed to fail.

In my 25+ years of sales management, I have identified five keys to “SALES” that make the most impact, yet unfortunately are often the most underappreciated and underinvested areas of sales.

S – Sales Process

A – A+ Sales Talent

L – Leadership

E – Effectiveness

S – Sales Compensation Plans

Today we will focus on the first two items.


Ask various salespeople to share their sales process, and you will likely get many different responses. Some may say they are relationship sellers, some say it’s all about their dynamic ability to present and capture an audience, and others say they are great at negotiating the commercial contract and getting the close. While all of these are valid attributes of successful salespeople, they do not define a sales process.

A great sales process defines every step a salesperson takes across the entire sales cycle, from initial conversation to contract signatures. A sales process should have clearly defined stages and each stage needs to have measurable benchmarks and clear responsibilities.

  • Stages and Key Requirements – Each component of the sales cycle must have an associated stage and specific, defined activities that must be met for that stage.
  • Objectives – What are the goals at this stage? What are we trying to accomplish to move the account forward?
  • Sales Rep Responsibilities – Sales reps need to understand what the specific expectations are at each stage of the sales process and what they are responsible for. Leave nothing to chance.
  • Requirements Before Moving to the Next Stage –The last step is to define what needs to happen in order to move to the next stage of the sales process. This ensures consistent, specific objectives will be accomplished before moving on.

Defining all of the sequential sales cycle stages along with the expectations, roles, objectives, and requirements of each stage will bring a new level of excellence to your sales motion.

  1. A+ SALES TALENT – Hiring Great Salespeople

Just the other day I was speaking with a business owner client who told me, “Todd, I am terrible at hiring salespeople. I just hired three new sales reps, and I think they are probably all B minus talent.” I asked why he hired three B minus candidates, and he responded that they all seemed like “A” candidates to him.

Hiring great salespeople is challenging, especially because of the nature of salespeople themselves. They are professional sellers! They are wired to sell you on why they are great, and they tend to be very good at convincing you that they will be the best hire you ever made.

But how do you find the rock stars, especially in this labor market? There is a definite rigor to hiring good salespeople and it requires a good fundamental process:

  • Have the Right Questions and Be Prepared to Dig – Knowing the correct questions to ask a seasoned salesperson is key, and making sure you get good, detailed answers is critical.
  • Have the Final Candidate Present Your Product/Service to You – A great last step in a hiring process once you have identified the final candidate (or two) is to ask them to present your company and product/service offering to you as a sales pitch. You aren’t looking for them to become experts in your company offering, but rather to see how they research, assimilate information, and package it to you in a way that would demonstrate their sales skills.
  • Make Sure Others Are Involved in the Interview Process – Sales is a key function for the company. Be sure to include other functions – Marketing, Product, Support, etc. since they will all be working with the sales team and will also bring different perspectives that provide a more robust, well-rounded picture of the candidate.

The difference between hiring an “A” and a “B minus” sales rep can be the difference between rapid growth and stagnation. Putting the time, energy, and discipline into finding and hiring the right sales candidate will pay off exponentially for your business.

Defining your sales process and hiring great salespeople are the first steps in addressing the SALES keys that will have a lasting effect on your bottom line. In part two of this blog series, I will cover the final three areas that will make the biggest impact on sales for your organization.