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How to Prepare Your Sales Team to Scale: 6 Top Tips

Dear all sales leaders…

Don’t be hasty 😅

We get that you want to grow your outbound team and take it to new heights. But the reality is that if you just dive in, you’re not going to see the results you want. 

Successfully scaling your outbound team happens when sales leaders take the time to think and plan ahead. And the more effort you put in now, the better your results are going to be. 

Now, you might be asking:

How can I prepare to scale my team? What do I need to think about when scaling? 

We’ll answer these questions, plus more, in this article.

We’ve spoken with:

We’ll explain how sales leaders can set their outbound teams up for a successful phase of scaling and growth. 

Scroll for more👇

Why should sales leaders scale their outbound sales team? 

Accelerating and hitting new revenue numbers is the obvious reason to scale an outbound function. 

But this shouldn’t be your only motivator as a sales leader. 

First of all, there’s the risk that your team becomes stagnant.

Tom shared why:

“Scaling will impact almost every aspect of the business - and not only from a revenue or numbers perspective.”

“If you don’t increase your headcount, relative to where you want to go, you’re always going to be in a smaller fish bowl. Especially when you hire externally, a fresh pair of eyes from another perspective or structure can really make a difference.”

He added:

“I have huge respect for those sales leaders who can keep the heat on and keep numbers ticking over. But this isn’t the case for everyone. Too much pressure and over-reliance on a small number of reps for a growing target are going to cause harm. Your reps will lose motivation - and it’ll happen quickly.”

When is the right time to scale your outbound sales team? 

The clues are in the data. 

Tom explained what he means by this: 

“I come from a sales data background. And I’ve found that proactive reporting is going to help you understand things a whole lot better. It’s important to ask yourself questions like: 

  • How are we going to achieve scaling in this certain economic climate? 
  • Can we afford to scale? 
  • Can we afford to pay SDRs the going market rate? 

Especially that last point - you don’t want to change your commission criteria. This is something you shouldn’t have to sacrifice.”

He added:

“If your organisation is doing well, I would scale. And even in certain economic climates, it’s not always going to be a negative picture. Zoom is a good example I like to use for this. During the pandemic, it’s very likely that they scaled. As there was a huge demand for a tool that could support the new remote-working environment.”

Elric agreed, stating:

"A good indicator is when your first three SDRs are performing well. This alongside scalable resources and processes, means you're in a good place to grow the team."

What does a sales leader’s checklist look like, when they’re preparing to scale their outbound team? 

There are six priorities that sales leaders should have down, before scaling their sales team.👇

1. Know who you’re targeting

This is a two-fold concept.

First of all, Morgan said:

“It’s about getting a solid grasp on who you’re going after, and how you’re helping solve their problems. This is important, because if you hire people and they don’t end up knowing who they’re supposed to be targeting - it’s going to be a disaster.” 

Elric said it comes down to pointing the team in the right direction: 

"Document what you know about your prospects and their problems. Get your SDRs to come to grips with their ICP and buyer personas, through case studies and more." 

The more research and preparation you do upfront, the better!

Move beyond the basics. For example, knowing the industry size of your persona can help you get to grips with how your outbound team will function. This is especially important as you scale. 

Gabrielle said:

“Each segment has its own intricacies and nuances. So you can’t apply the same playbook or measurements for success.”

Tom offered a snapshot of what to consider in enterprise:

“With enterprise, it reaches a point where reps have to be ready for that step, having had exposure to enterprise accounts before.”

“In commercial and SMB, it’s not an easier sell. But there are fewer stakeholders, meaning less friction in the buying process, and fewer hoops to jump through. Whereas, with enterprise, there’s a lot more stakeholder management. You’ve got to please finance, procurement, and legal. There are so many different levers involved.” 

It’s also worth noting that nothing stays the same. The focus might shift from one segment to the next, as Morgan outlined:

“There are some organisations I’ve worked with that have been wholly enterprise, and then shifted downmarket. Granted - it doesn’t happen often. But it is a possibility that sales leaders should be aware of.” 

“The motion for these are going to be two different things - so be aware and think about things differently.”

Success will also come down to understanding common themes and trends in the segment. Gabrielle offered her two cents on what this means exactly: 

“For example, what are the objections you’re hearing the most in SMB, Mid-Market, and enterprise? Creating this feedback can then be fed into understanding themes and trends over time, per segment.” 

The bottom line? 

When it comes to scaling outbound teams in different segments, one size fits all isn’t going to work. 

2. Know your intentions for scaling

Here’s the deal. 

Growth at all costs isn’t an option for everyone. 

Ashleigh stressed it’s important to understand intent behind the decision to scale:

“Leaders tend to decide to scale, because of two options:

1 - There’s a process that’s currently working. So, we now want to divide and conquer, to speed up that process for the next step of growth.

2 - Inbound pipeline has totally collapsed, so outbound efforts need to be ramped up to make up for the gap.” 

She added:

“Given the economy and the clients I’m working with right now, I’m tending to hear option two.” 

“But you can’t just decide to throw bodies at outbound. It’s not going to be the best use of funds. And it’s not going to be fair on the reps, as you’ll end up hiring at a rate beyond what you can support.” 

That’s why you should…👇

3. Know your number and numbers

It’s no secret that sales is a numbers game. 

And Ryan explained why sales leaders should know their stats before scaling:

“Let’s say the revenue leader has told teams that the organisation wants to grow from $1m to $5m in revenue for the first time. As a sales leader, you need to figure out how much needs to be contributed from your team’s effort, versus marketing.

From there, you can determine, pipeline, attribution, and then the math of sales. Once you’ve got this data, you can translate that back to quota and headcount.”

Seems obvious, right? Well, Ryan said a lot of leaders lose focus of the numbers and grow their team at an unsustainable pace:

“So many people forget about this first crucial step. They just say, let’s hire some people and hope for the best.” 

Now, what if you’re unsure of your numbers?

“If this is the case, hire a couple of reps to test and then figure out the numbers from there. Slow down before you speed up. This approach will save you a lot of headaches, bad hires, frustrated people, and wasted money on tools you don’t even need.” 

Once you’ve got the number and numbers down, then you can think about headcount. 

Morgan said:

“Know how many people you can hire in the year. That way you can understand revenue and forecast appropriately. 

Tom agreed, stating:

“You’ve got to make things relative to what the business wants to achieve, and what’s capable in the macro-economic climate.”

4. Know your approach to hiring, onboarding and training 

It’s crucial to have an airtight process for each one of these aspects. 

Tom explained more:

“It’s about asking yourself if you have the time to ramp a rep up to speed to hit numbers in time. When you do this is important also. Because you have to assess if the business has enough resources to do this effectively. For example, let’s take reps joining in Q4 when it tends to be all hands on deck. This is a scenario to avoid because it can be quite a daunting start for a brand new sales rep.” 

Morgan offered some advice, on the subject of preparing to hire:

“Define what the culture of your team is going to be. You can then assess candidates based on whether they align with these values.”

And it’s so true! The last thing you want is to hire somebody who’s a bad fit! 

5. Know your tech stack

At the core of it, it’s important to have a CRM, data tool, and a sales engagement tool. 

But don’t just buy the software and forget about the other aspects that go along with it. 

Gabrielle shared:

“From the tech side, are your reps enabled to do the job they’re supposed to do? For example, they’re going to need contact data for outbound. Are there any blockers when it comes to reps actually using the software?”

Ashleigh agreed:

“A lot of people get hung up on the tools. And yes - they’re fantastic and are going to make your life so much easier! But have you thought about what you’re going to put in them?” 

“I’ve worked with companies that have a full tech stack and no reliable list sources. And at the end of the day, if you’ve got a list that’s 50% bad, you’ll double the amount of work you have to do.”

Ashleigh said to think of it like this:

“You can have the most expensive car in the world. But if you don’t have gas, you’ve just bought the world’s most expensive table weight.” 😬 

6. Know your sales process

We get it. 

Sales process is a broad term. But when you’re scaling a team, going back to the basics of how you’re going to do things is important. 

Morgan expanded on this:

“At the core of it, make sure you have frameworks in place, even just for writing emails. How you do things might change throughout the quarter or the year. But just getting the basics down is important.” 

Gabrielle added, it’s important for leaders to think about how their teams are going to work together:

“What is going to be the pairing between BDRs and AEs? How are they going to work together? What about your partnerships with marketing?” 

And it cannot be stressed enough…

Have a reporting system! 

Gabrielle said:

“How else are you going to identify the main drivers of success? Create a reporting discipline with access to the right data that you need. And change your attitude and mindset towards the data.”

She gave an example of what she means by this:

“A leader might say: ‘Oh wow, only 10% of BDRs’ sourced opportunities in strategic accounts are converting. BDRs don’t seem to know what they’re doing.’

“There’s a problem with this approach - you’re criticising. Instead, a really adept sales leader will say: ‘What do we know about this 10% and why it’s converting?’” 

Closing thoughts

One thing is clear for sure. 

Sales leaders who want to scale their outbound teams cannot just dive in, head first. 

It takes a great deal of thought and consideration. Because the more effort you invest now, the quicker the team can be on the road to unstoppable heights. 

We’re reaching the end of 2022, so we wanted to ask our interviewees if they had any words of advice. 

One thing is apparent. Now is the time for sales leaders to start thinking about scaling their teams, ahead of 2023. 

Ashleigh said:

“If you haven’t started and want to see Q1 results, you will be disappointed. Don’t set up your team for failure and say: ‘Oh I can scale in three months’.” 

“You can’t muscle your way through - give yourself time to do this right. Set proper expectations with your board and reps. Nobody likes joining the company in January to find the quota has doubled. It’s not a good start for reps’ careers.” 

Morgan shared this opinion:

“You need to get your team onboarded in the next 60 to 90 days. Q1 is when prospecting tends to be highest. Because budgets have been confirmed, and people know where they’re supposed to be spending their money. In Q4 of 2022,  you should be asking: ‘How can I get my team ready for Q1?’”

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