How to Build Small Business Sales Teams like a Serial Entrepreneur

To build a sales team for a small business is a critical mission, the success of which determines if a small business will evolve into a medium one any time soon, or will die off in the first year as the vast majority does. 

At the stage, when a business owner is ready to hire a salesperson, the product or service is out and ready to be sold, plus some marketing efforts may have been applied to test the demand.

According to the U.S Census Bureau, there are 30.7 million small businesses in the USA, which is 99.9% of the total volume percentage-wise. They employ 59.9 million people, which is 47.3% of the entire workforce of the country. This tells us that many of them have 1-2 people on a team.

At some point in the development of a business, any entrepreneur, who has tried to pull it all off on their own realize the time has come to hire. 

Salespeople are usually among the first to be onboarded and the expectations are high. Owners are usually in love with their business idea and expect their wonderful product to fly off the shelves like hotcakes.

This is why we decided to create this somewhat sobering read on how to build a sales team from scratch. No detail is too small in this endeavor: structure, budget, tools, and attitude.

How do you hire a sales team for success?

What makes a successful team of sales professionals for a budding business?

What sales tools are there to help a project get off the ground?

Is it better to hire or outsource the sales team?

What are the features of a perfect startup sales team?

small business sales team

Nimble CRM is an affordable tool with task management, email marketing, calendar & scheduling in one user-friendly intuitive interface. It costs $19 per user per month as an annual service and provides access to the best in league cloud technology when it comes to contact management and process planning.

This is why we have hundreds of thousands of small businesses using our SaaS tool. This is why we know the highs and lows of establishing a winning sales crew. We are delighted to share some of our empirically-derived best practices on creating the most efficient structure of the team of sales professionals for your SME. 

When Is The Right Time To Start Looking For Sales Reps For A Startup?

The answer will depend on three major factors:

  1. Whether you sell services or physical products;
  2. If you sell B2B or B2C;
  3. How big/small your budget is.

If you sell services, you can do it without the sales team for quite a while. You can attract customers via digital marketing efforts and have them pass the lead to an account manager.

Say, you won a hairdresser’s salon, or a car wash, or a consultancy firm. You sell services, your clients may be finding you via social media, Google ads, Google business, and then book their appointments with your digital tools or with your receptionist.

If you sell physical products, some sort of sales representative is pretty important, specifically if we are talking offline sales in a brick-and-mortar physical building, like a kiosk or a shop.

B2C sales can be done bypassing the sales department altogether if we are talking eCommerce. You can do this with a marketer and somebody who manages your incoming requests in terms of delivery/inventory / invoicing. There is no selling in those functions, so we may assume this person can be called a manager.

Offline B2B sales need a salesperson for sure. If you are ready to sell at the counter when you start your shop, gradually you may get enough confidence to hire a team of salespeople to manage the store.

Last but not least, things do depend on budget and many budding initiatives go bankrupt for the reason of insufficient funding. This is why hiring the S&M department should be part of your initial business plan estimate with realistic remuneration levels budgeted.

Long story short, consider hiring somebody with sales skills as soon as:

  • You can afford it budget-wise;
  • Your product or service is in good shape and ready for customers;
  • Your digital marketing plan is rolled out and there is proven demand for your product;
  • Your logistics are in place and all contracts with suppliers are signed.

Hiring A Sales Team For A Small Business

Depending on your budgets, entrepreneurs are usually looking to hire these two types:

  1. Experienced salespeople with a proven track record of successful performance and the right sales attitude.
  2. Newbies with the right sales attitude.

If with experience or not, a salesperson must have the right attitude.

You can afford to hire somebody without experience.

But hiring a sales rep without the right relentless revenue-making hunter approach is a huge no-go.

hiring a sales rep for small business

These are the tell-tale signs of the sales spirit, who will nail it in sales: a newbie or an industry dinosaur:

  • People-loving extrovert
  • Diplomatic and flexible negotiator
  • A good reader of human character capable of empathy
  • An ambitious person who had to work for where s/he is now in life [progress in social status is a great token: educationally or professionally]
  • Capable of learning, curious to absorb new info & disciplined system-follower

Even if you can’t afford an industry’s top sales pro at the beginning of your business endeavor, you should always be on the lookout for the relentlessly enthusiastic winning attitude in a candidate.

Systems can be taught, tools can be explained, sales techniques are no rocket science. But if a person has no genuine desire to improve people’s lives with your product, you can’t afford either having this person on your team or wasting time investing hopes into it

Critical Role Of Sales Training: The Basis Of Your Sales Performance

Training of your team is to your future sales what a foundation is to a building. Without a proper basis, that house will collapse sooner or later, bringing a lot of damage along the way.

Lay the foundation thoroughly. This is an investment with one of the biggest ROIs out there, so don’t be shy to spend money, time, and expertise to get your team up to the standard.

With technology though, major SaaS producers will ensure there are plenty of resources available for the team to master their tools in a fun way: via YouTube video tutorials, user cases, and the like. 

Nimble CRM, for example, has dozens of explainer videos that guide the most technically-unprepared users to master this anyway user-friendly Customer Relationship Management system. So a business owner can just recommend some of the best videos to the team and set them as a must-watch for all newcomers.

We highly recommend these CRM usage videos as part of the curriculum to successfully build a small business sales team:

The first time you create a training, it could have more of an on-the-job type of coaching sessions, with yourself as small business owners teaching your skills and sharing your love for a product with your new hire.

As you progress and expand your team, it makes sense for the person in charge of sales to overtake hiring and training duties.

It makes sense creating a series of tasks in a CRM for all new hires, related to video webinar training, in-person sessions, and outsourced training, budget permitting. Sharing the files and links is easy and this should be a repeat action for all new hires.


Set Your Expectations Clearly

With the right attitude and proper training, the next milestone is to set expectations and KPIs in an explicit, coherent manner with tools to monitor progress.

If you have more than 1 person on your sales team, you have to make sure everybody is clear about the structure, subordination, duty/market distribution, and line of the report.

Regular meetings bring in discipline and should be followed up with noted down minutes for everyone to be able to follow through with the tasks. 

You can monitor progress in the CRM reporting portal, where you can get a visual graph of each sale rep’s performance, pipeline value, conversion, etc.

Involve Team In Decision-Making

While you do have a helicopter view of things as a small business owner, Steve Jobs was right in noting that we hire smart people so they tell us what to do, not vice versa.

Listen to your sales out, they are the ones who are in the fields daily. They are soaked in the clients’ pains and waters like a Duck à l’orange in OJ & Cointreau. 

If you allow your team to speak up with initiatives, not only will they feel more appreciated and motivated, their engagement will also be stronger due to self-acquired responsibility.

CRM for the small sales team can also help organize a perpetual brainstorming session for your team: create a file that every new hire gets access to, whereby your sales will be able to jot down the craziest of ideas any time of the day or night when it occurs to them. You can review them during the weekly meeting then – but as with any brainstorming, it should be a judgment-free area.

Another way of registering the agreed-upon actions for each member is to share the screen during the meeting itself with a CRM on it, whereby a sales department manager or a business owner will assign respective tasks during the meeting itself.

Such a live mode of task assignment to a CRM during daily / weekly meetings carries even more weight, as everybody is on the same page, familiar with the team’s priorities, and is aware of the fact that focus is on the results.

Have an incentive plan with explicit KPIs, that every new team member will agree to and sign off for long-term motivation. If you choose to make your results based on a quarterly or annual period is up to you, both of them have pluses and minuses.

Arm Your People With Tools

To build a small sales team that achieves big results one needs some bazookas. In times of technology, those are SaaS tools for time planning, contact management, video calling, password management, meeting scheduling, etc.

Check out these top 10 Business Apps we recommend every business person has on their mobiles or laptops for efficient working.

Needless to say, for a salesperson, a CRM is THE weapon of choice.

Nimble CRM has some cutting-edge features, like Nimble prospector, social insights, email marketing module, scheduling, deal management, and more.

If you are looking for a CRM for the small business sales team, Nimble has all of these advantages for you to try the product:

  1. Affordable for ANY business: small, middle, or a corporation. Just $19 per month if billed annually.
  2. In the top of the charts of Best CRM rankings by Capterra, G2 Crowd, and other independent review sites.
  3. Helps save 140 thousand + users 90 minutes a day.
  4. Has garnered over 1500 genuine reviews on Capterra.
  5. You can try it for free for two weeks with just one email, no credit card required.

Let’s build that winning sales team for your so-far small business with the best arsenal of digital tools!

Nimble Smart Simple CRM