Mo’ Bodies Mo’ Problems: The Trap Of Scaling Bad Sales Programs
All businesses want to scale, and many take the approach of investing purely in more team members without recognizing that there are other ways to invest in the success of their sales team that don’t include adding more reps. Unfortunately, scaling upon a sales team that lacks a solid foundation is a recipe for disaster. Unless you have the framework and processes in place to reliably generate meetings, scaling will ultimately prove to be a waste of money and resources.
In this blog, let’s dive into the tell-tale signs that you’ve struck sales gold and it’s a good idea to scale upon it.
Must-Haves To Scale
Here are some of the key characteristics of a sales program that is ready to be scaled.
A Strong Employee Recruiting Program & Career Path
It is nearly impossible to scale a team that’s constantly churning, especially when you don’t have the HR and training resources in place to quickly and seamlessly replace those reps with new ones that are ready to step in. High employee turnover is especially prevalent in organizations that lack a clear and attractive career path for salespeople. With nowhere to go but out, reps can churn within a year, introducing volatility and unpredictability to your sales program.
Now, churn is a natural component of any sales team. Few reps are happy to stay in that position forever. Eliminating churn is not realistic, but ensuring you have the proper team architecture and processes in place is. If your sales program is productive due to one or two contributors, while the rest of the team struggles, you’re not ready to scale. If you lack the recruiting and onboarding resources to handle employee churn, you’re not ready to scale. If you haven’t yet thought through the career trajectories of your reps, you’re not ready to scale.
Strong Sales Unit Economics
Consistent and reliable sales unit economics are perhaps the most important prerequisite for scaling a sales program. If you aren’t booking meetings at a financially viable rate, it makes no sense to increase your investment into your sales program. For instance, if you have five reps producing meetings at a cost of $1000 when they should be generating meetings at a cost of $600 in order for your sales program to be financially productive, how would adding more reps to the team help? It wouldn’t. Adding more reps to a program where financial KPIs are not being hit only broadens the gap between your costs and the anticipated return from their efforts. You need to figure out what’s broken, and create a reliable playbook, before adding more boots to the ground.
Meeting volume is also not the be-all-end-all when it comes to sales unit economics. In addition to generating meetings at a financially viable rate, you must ensure that the rest of your sales funnel is converting properly. If you’re generating meetings at a palatable cost but these meetings are not developing into high-quality opportunities and closed-won deals, you don’t have a financially successful sales program.
Some sales leaders get tunnel-vision, focusing so much on meeting volume that they forget about the rest of the sales cycle. They decide to scale too early in the process, before they’ve had a chance to optimize and refine their sales program. Failure to convert leads down the funnel represents a systemic issue in your sales process that must be addressed before scaling.
Processes and Tech stack
If you grow too fast without established administrative processes and a strong tech stack to support your team, you can quickly become overwhelmed. Everything in your sales team must have a codified process so that you can ramp up new team members quickly, as well as replace team members who inevitably churn. Most sales leaders understand the issues that a "lone-wolf" salesperson can cause by not using the CRM or documenting their processes, and then churning out of the organization– afterward, everyone else on the team is left wondering how this person was doing what they were doing, especially if they were a superstar performer.
This is precisely why having turnkey technology solutions and strong documentation of processes is so critical for a growing sales team. Less time will be spent on putting the pieces together, and more time will be spent actually learning and getting up to speed.
Why Does This Matter?
Scaling your sales team before it is ready can cause tons of problems for your business. First, it can create an excess of employees, all of whom you had to pay to recruit, train, and onboard, only for there to be nothing for them to do. This creates a massive hole in the company’s bottom line and robs those employees of the opportunity to be contributors and gain valuable experience. Unless you have the playbooks in place to set these new reps up for success, you’re running the risk of having to let them go within weeks or months of welcoming them to your team.
Second, if you think managing a small, unproductive sales program is difficult, try managing a large, unproductive sales program. Even the most successful sales teams present challenges. You need to have the management and processes in place to ensure the trains run smoothly. The more bodies you add to a sales program, the more complexity you layer in, and this can have disastrous effects unless you’re ready for it.
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