How to Build a B2B Sales Team: The Ultimate Guide
Navigating the intricacies of how to build a B2B sales team can be daunting, but it’s crucial for success.
A strong sales team is the engine behind thriving relationships, growth and a healthy bottom line. But to jump-start this engine, you need the right components in place.
To shed light on the subject, we teamed up with two industry frontrunners:
- David Bentham, VP of Global Sales Development at Cognism.
- Frida Ottosson, VP of US Sales at Cognism.
Together, we present a blueprint for forging a sales team that thrives in the ever-evolving B2B marketplace. By the end, you’ll have a roadmap and actionable strategies to assemble a top-notch B2B sales team.
Ready to delve into their insights? Dive in now! 👇
Decide your sales team structure
Building a robust B2B sales team requires a nuanced understanding of your product, target audience, and sales cycle.
It’s crucial that your sales team’s structure aligns with your business goals.
David told us:
“Step one is understanding what you’re selling, who you’re selling to, what kind of volume and what the average sales cycle looks like. You can decide how you’ll structure your team from there.”
Once you have this clear understanding, you can lock down a structure. But what structures are available?
Let’s take a closer look 👇
The specialised structure
In this model, each segment of your sales process is managed by a dedicated team member, forming a well-organised assembly line of expertise.
This structure excels in complex sales journeys where the emphasis is on maximising efficiency and leveraging the unique skills of individuals.
The 360 salesperson structure
In contrast, the 360 salesperson structure sees a single salesperson guiding the prospect throughout their journey. This method is pivotal for fostering deep, enduring relationships, as David aptly put it:
“It’s all about the relationship. If building a deep, long-term relationship with the customer is your goal, then the 360 approach works well.”
Define roles within your sales team
Understanding different sales roles is crucial when working out how to build a B2B sales team that’s both strong and efficient.
Let’s look at the critical roles and show how they fit into the sales team structures we covered earlier.
Specialised structure roles
In the specialised structure, the roles operate in a segmented fashion, each focusing on a specific stage of the sales process:
- Sales Development Representatives (SDRs): Focus on identifying and qualifying leads, ensuring the efficiency of the sales process.
- Account Executives (AEs): Specialise in conducting negotiations and sealing deals, playing a critical role in converting interest into business.
- Customer Success Representatives: Step in post-sale, aiming to sustain customer satisfaction and build long-term relationships.
- Managers: Guide the strategy and create a performance-oriented environment, steering the team towards success.
360 salesperson roles
In contrast, the 360 salesperson structure integrates all responsibilities, providing a continuous and personalised relationship between seller and prospect:
- 360 salesperson: manages the entire customer journey, from prospecting to post-sale, building and maintaining comprehensive relationships.
Master the recruitment and hiring process
Identifying the right sales skills is foundational in assembling a winning B2B sales team. Traits such as resilience, optimism, and drive are markers of potential top performers. Recognising excellence in various fields and focusing on candidates with clear, financially-driven goals is essential.
“If you’re hiring right, your sales team will naturally be competitive.”
Crafting compelling job descriptions is crucial. Highlighting the potential for advancement and clear expectations makes the roles more appealing.
Engage promptly with potential candidates, answering their questions and offering insights into team culture and success stories. This ensures you’ll attract individuals eager for growth and challenge.
Conducting sales team interviews is crucial in forming a successful sales team. This process involves assessing the candidate’s aptitude, managing expectations, addressing concerns, and offering constructive feedback. The objective is to ensure the candidate fits the company’s goals and the team’s culture.
The onboarding phase offers a prime opportunity to reinforce a competitive ethos. Clearly communicating targets, discussing career growth, and ensuring alignment with the company’s vision help create a driven yet supportive environment.
Cultivate a strong sales team culture
Why is culture important in a sales team, you might ask? Let’s break it down.
A positive sales team culture is far from a fluffy concept; it’s a concrete foundation that aligns your team on shared goals and, ultimately, drives success.
Consider this: a team’s culture influences its members’ behaviours and attitudes. This influence then shapes their approach to selling and interacting with customers.
At Cognism, a core tenet of our sales culture is deeply understanding the customer’s needs.
Frida stressed why:
“In order to generate value for the customer, you need to grasp how they make money.”
This perspective goes beyond mere tactics - it’s a deep-rooted mindset. The end result?
Our sales team consistently digs deep to truly understand what our customers are all about.
But recognising the importance of sales culture is just the beginning. Let’s look at the practical steps you can take to build and nurture a thriving culture.
Define your company’s sales culture
Start by defining what values are paramount to your organisation. Outline clear expectations and establish a mission that resonates with every member. This definition steers your team in a unified direction.
Create alignment on shared goals
Alignment is pivotal. Establish clear and measurable objectives that reflect your defined culture. Regular communication and feedback sessions ensure everyone is on the same page, moving together towards shared targets.
Motivate and incentivise your team
When your team feels genuinely valued and inspired, they will naturally surpass quotas. Set up a rewards system that emphasises both individual achievements and team spirit. Celebrate every win, big or small, to show genuine appreciation.
Open, honest communication about company direction and individual trajectories ensures everyone feels connected to the larger vision and understands their integral role.
Encourage continuous learning
In the world of sales, the learning curve never truly flattens. Regular training, workshops, and updated resources keep your team at the cutting edge, ready to adapt and grow.
“We use quizzes consistently to solidify our training - and while they’re undoubtedly fun, their primary purpose is reinforcing key concepts.”
Gamification is a great way to instil continuous learning - it taps into the inherent competitiveness of sales teams! Transforming lessons into engaging challenges makes learning enjoyable and ensures key concepts stick.
Promote collaboration and teamwork
A collaborative team is a successful team - develop an environment where ideas are shared freely.
Team-building activities, open forums, and collaborative projects facilitate teamwork and ensure every team member feels valued.
Create a robust sales process
Constructing a formidable B2B sales process is like building a house: it requires a solid foundation, precise planning, and the right tools. This systematic approach ensures that every team member is synchronised and that the operation runs smoothly.
Start with the customer journey
When considering how to build an effective B2B sales team, begin by understanding and mapping out the customer journey. Detail every interaction from the introduction to the closed deal.
A clear picture of this journey allows your team to anticipate client needs, proactively address concerns, and tailor their approach.
Prioritise with lead qualification and scoring
With a thorough understanding of the customer journey, you can identify which interactions strongly indicate a lead’s intent to purchase.
A well-tuned system helps your team focus on the most promising leads, ensuring they engage prospects at the right time.
Iterate based on feedback
A successful sales process is one that adapts and grows. Encourage your team to share feedback consistently, discussing both the challenges they face and the successes they’ve had.
This hands-on experience is invaluable. It sheds light on parts of the process that might need adjustments. Regularly reviewing and making changes based on this feedback ensures that your sales process stays relevant and efficient. It also means your business will stay up-to-date with the ever-changing industry landscape.
In the realm of B2B sales, integrating the right tools can significantly improve team efficiency and collaboration.
Why is technology so pivotal?
It helps drive your sales strategy, simplifies processes, improves communication, and provides insightful data. This allows your team to adjust their pitches and better understand client needs, leading to more successful deals.
When should you invest in sales tech?
There isn’t a hard and fast answer to this. The timing hinges on a variety of considerations, assessing not just the growth phase of your team but also the evolving demands of your sales processes.
Here are some considerations to guide your decision:
- Complexity of sales processes: As sales processes become more intricate, the need for technology to manage and streamline these processes increases.
- Volume of customer data: A growing volume of customer data necessitates robust technology to collect and analyse this data effectively.
- Team expansion: As your team grows, technology becomes crucial for maintaining smooth communication, collaboration, and overall efficiency.
- Changing market demands: As market demands shift, technology allows you to stay adaptable. Use it to remain competitive and quickly respond to changes.
Essential tools for success
We asked David to whittle down the essential tools for building a B2B sales team.
He told us:
“LinkedIn, an outreach tool and a data provider like Cognism are starting points. A laser focus on your CRM is critical; proper CRM data storage offers long-term benefits.”
Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail.
This system does more than just manage contacts. It records every interaction with customers, their preferences, and any feedback they give.
Regularly collecting this data through a CRM makes communication with prospects more personal and effective.
A key platform for building and maintaining relationships in the B2B space. LinkedIn streamlines networking and provides useful insights for understanding and connecting with prospects.
They are essential for initiating and maintaining contact with potential clients. They automate and manage communication, helping sales teams to effectively connect with prospects, understand their needs, and tailor pitches.
This makes the engagement more personalised and increases the chances of winning over decision-makers.
These tools are vital for ensuring you have accurate contact details, preventing wasted time and resources on incorrect information.
This accuracy is critical for efficient and effective outreach in the B2B market.
Building a B2B sales team: final thoughts
So there you have it; this ultimate guide has provided a comprehensive framework for how to build a B2B sales team primed for success.
We’ve explored various sales team structures, roles, and recruitment strategies. We’ve also discussed the significance of cultivating a positive team culture and the benefits of integrating essential tools.
Your next step? Apply this wealth of knowledge in the real world and watch your B2B sales team soar to unprecedented heights!
And if you’re looking for more B2B insights? Click 👇 to access Cognism’s sales team resources!