Biz Tips: 3 Ways To Build a Sales Team That Will Fail

Biz Tips: 3 Ways To Build a Sales Team That Will Fail


3 Ways To Build a Sales Team That Will Fail

And How To Avoid It

Photo by Alex Kotliarskyi on Unsplash

I failed. Then I failed again.

If I made a list of all the ways that I failed in building my sales team I would have a compendium on my hands. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these 3 Ways To Build a Sales Team That Will Fail may save you from some of the colossal errors I made.

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently” — Henry Ford

One of the hardest things to do in life is to hold ourselves accountable for our own failures and to properly identify the role that we played in creating them.

No one else was responsible for my team’s ineptitude other than myself.

1. Hire Your Friends

What sounds better than working with your some of your closest friends? Just about everything actually.

By hiring your friends you are creating an immediate hierarchal challenge that you won’t recover from. If you are the boss, you have just upended the balance of your friendship and no matter how smooth someone says it will go, it won’t.

We hire our friends because they believe in us already and we don’t feel like we need to do as much to earn their trust and respect. This is a colossal failure on the part of a leader.

NOTE: I did this over and over and it was purely my failure.

Your friends actually require more upkeep than a stranger because you now have to constantly reinforce the friendship while creating a framework of responsibility at work. P.S. — this is impossible.

“It’s all about quality of life and finding a happy balance between work and friends and family.”

— Philip Green

Stop looking right next to you for your first couple of hires. You are just being lazy and trying to prop yourself up by hiring someone who already likes you.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

2. Focus on Your Leads First

This was my absolute biggest mistake and I didn’t stop at doing this just one time. I kept doing it.

I started my first sales team because I had too many leads to handle. I hired people on my second and third teams because I couldn’t control the lead flow.

Why did I continue to buy leads without the structure to support the intake?

Good question. I was chasing what I thought looked like success.

My value proposition pitch was first and foremost, “How many leads is your current company giving you?” The answer was always less. Then, “how many leads are you generating on your own?” The answer was very minimal. Voila!

Me: “I have as many leads as you want.”

BIG MISTAKE. Here are two reasons why:

  • The focus of your team pitch should be your culture, not your leads. What is unique about buying leads? Nothing. What is unique about your team and how you want to grow it? Everything.
  • Salespeople always say they need more leads, but they don’t. They need more training and coaching. A salesperson who asks for 100 leads and gets them all the same day will be fully burned out or have given up in less than a week. I did this to my team again and again. I was an idiot.

“There’s no lotion or potion that will make sales faster and easier for you — unless your potion is hard work.”

— Jeffrey Gitomer

Photo by Christopher Gower via Unsplash.

3. Forget to Set Expectations From the Start

This third point usually rears its ugly head as a combination of your failures on point one and two. We have too many leads. We need salespeople. We hire them in bulk to weed out the good ones.

But we forget to be clear on our expectations. Because we don’t have enough time to do anything but give them a PDF that they won’t read.

“The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.”

— Confucius

Take me for example, again. I would hire my friends who I thought would need less assistance. Then I would give them what they wanted — leads.

I would compound that by not being clear on what my expectations were. Because I was personally uncomfortable trying to hold my friends accountable.

What I Learned

Building a sales team the right way is building a real business and any successful business is the product of clear expectations and accountability.

If every person that you hire has a list of pinpointed responsibilities and goals and you have weekly checkups to work together to see what can be done more efficiently, you are bound for success.

If you do what I did and set meetings just to listen and offer your help without making sure that everyone knows the importance of the metrics being tracked, you are bound for a slow road to Failureville.

I’ve made a few visits there while building teams and it can be pretty demoralizing.

But it was mostly because I was trying to take short cuts — hiring friends (they were closer), focusing on leads over training (they were already there), and failing to set expectations (they should know what to do).

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

— John C. Maxwell

This is by no means a blueprint for assured success. However, if you avoid these three pitfalls in team building for sales, you will make it a lot easier on yourself.

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3 Ways To Build a Sales Team That Will Fail was originally published in Marketing And Growth Hacking on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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