Scaling a sales team

Scaling a Sales Team: Six Essential Steps

When Zoom’s active users grew from 10 million to over 300 million in just four months, CRO Ryan Azus was tasked with scaling the sales team at a record level and speed. 

He and his team worked swiftly, hiring hundreds of salespeople per quarter. According to Azus, this was only possible because Zoom had laid a solid foundation for growth. 

The company had a strong culture centered around caring and continuous learning. There were multiple sales channels, including an e-commerce platform. Additionally, the company had started hiring sales executives to oversee managers and teams.

Essentially, Zoom had started preparing to enter its next stage of growth. When Covid-19 hit and the demand for the company’s services skyrocketed, leadership was surprised, but not completely unprepared. 

How would your company (or team) do in a similar situation? Are your processes repeatable? Are your systems scalable? Is your business prepared for growth? 

Steps to scaling a sales team  

The sales team is one of the first that needs to be prepped for an increase in demand. The essential steps for scaling a sales team and sales process are:

1. Building a culture 

If culture is how organizations do things, then it makes sense to think about company culture before scaling a sales team. You’ll want to bring in people who align with how your company works and are uniquely qualified to get the job done.  

Start by identifying the core values and principles that matter to your company. Values and principles should inform recruitment, hiring, onboarding, and training—all of which you’ll do more of as your company grows.

If your company has values and principles pinned down already, it might be helpful to think about how they relate specifically to your sales culture

Take Zoom’s core value of “care.” When applied to sales, it means working toward common goals; having individual quotas, but winning together. In Azus’ words

“I want players that aren’t just going to take care of themselves; they’re going to make the people around them better.”

2. Hiring early on

As your company grows, your revenue targets will increase. At some point, they’ll increase so much that they’ll become unattainable for your current team. It’s best to start hiring before you get to this stage.

As one startup advisor told HubSpot, “You want to make sure that you’re hiring before the year even starts, so you have enough time to get through the hiring process, plus onboarding and training your new hires, so they can hit the ground running by the start of the year.”

One of the reasons Zoom was able to accommodate the sudden demand for its services was that the company started hiring sales executives before the pandemic. 

“We’d started—not at the level of the VP of a segment or a group, but of the Director, someone for overseeing multiple teams and managers, and [started] putting in that structure to provide more guidance,” Azus said in an interview

3. Supporting continuous learning

Your sales team needs to stay relevant, effective, and proactive as your company grows. Sales team members need to know and use the latest sales and productivity tools, understand trends in customer behavior, and stay up-to-date with current events. 

To support your sales staff’s continuous learning, give them opportunities to learn and improve their skills.

Zoom does this by bringing in experts to educate members of the sales team about different topics. The company also invests heavily in online education, enabling employees to learn what they want whenever they need it, at their own pace.

4. Enabling a hybrid salesforce

The future of work is (at least partially) remote. That’s true for most occupations, including sales jobs. 

To stay relevant and prepared, your company needs to embrace remote work, or at least a hybrid work model.

That will require understanding the specificities of remote work, adopting remote work tools and practices, and living out your culture remotely.

5. Leverage every channel

Before Covid, most of Zoom’s customers came from the US and purchased the company’s services offline. When the pandemic began, the company was glad to have set up an e-commerce channel.  

“There wasn’t the capacity to keep up with the demand but there was still an outlet for customers to be serviced,” said Azus. 

6. Creating a repeatable process

Building a clear, repeatable sales process—a roadmap for sales reps—is the “single most important thing you can do to set your team up for lasting success,” according to sales CRM company Pipedrive

Your sales process should describe your most important KPIs and define the stages in your pipeline. It should also provide structured lead qualification criteria and list the activities sales reps should focus on at each stage.

Pairing the process with technology that scales is crucial. As the team at Pipedrive explains, “the best sales process and most clearly-defined activities in the world won’t help at all if your reps aren’t entering accurate data into your CRM.” 

They recommend adopting tools that are easy to use and designed to scale with you. Essential tools for growing sales teams include a customer relationship management tool (CRM), like HubSpot or Salesforce; a scheduling tool, like Calendly; and a knowledge activation tool, like TextExpander.

Scaling a sales team is how you grow

You can’t grow a company without scaling a sales team. And scaling a sales team is more than just hiring people. It’s also:

  • Identifying company values and traits
  • Hiring strategically
  • Training and mentoring
  • Empowering sales staff to work from anywhere
  • Leveraging multiple sales channels
  • Creating a clear, repeatable sales process
  • Using the best tools for scaling

While you can’t predict sudden, exponential growth, you can prepare for expected growth using a combination of best management practices and technology.