A good sales team is the beating heart of any successful business, although finding candidates who can make a real difference to your bottom line calls for a structured and targeted approach.
Hiring sales professionals for the heating, ventilation, air conditioning, renewables and building services sectors is what we’re known for. We’ve been doing it for a couple of decades and we understand what qualities lead to a successful and lasting hire.
Here are 7 tips, based on our experience, to help you build a successful sales team. They apply to any business but we have drawn from expertise gained from working in our niche, which is the HVAC sector:
Whenever there’s a vacancy to fill, it’s important to look at the people you’ve already got. What skills do they have? Where do they perform most strongly? Is anyone suitable for a role change or promotion? This helps you clarify the skills and personality gaps.
If, for example, you have plenty of key account managers who are great at looking after existing customers, you might want to hire someone with a background in new business development. Perhaps you have a team full of established salespeople who have been doing the job for years. Is there room for a trainee who might bring new energy to the team?
Spend some time talking to your sales team and asking them what they enjoy about working there. Attracting good candidates is never easy and any intel you can pick up about the working environment, or what makes your sales team tick, will be useful detail to share with candidates. The art of making your company attractive to top talent is a big topic in itself and we’ve covered it in more detail in our article How HVAC Manufacturers Can Sell Themselves Better to Attract Good People.
You have identified the skills gaps and thought about the kind of person who might enjoy working with your team. Now you can draft a really accurate job description that sets out clearly the type of person you’re looking for. This will help you and the candidate, getting everything off to the best start. Most importantly of all, we know from experience that accurate job descriptions make it more likely that suitable candidates will apply.
Well, we would say this wouldn’t we? Seriously though, it does help to have a niche recruiter involved in the hiring process. It saves you time and you’re also drawing on their expertise and networks, particularly if they specialise in your field. A good recruiter can also help you avoid losing job candidates between offer and start date by communicating well with them, preparing them for any possible counter offer from their current employer and supporting candidate and employer through the increasingly tricky negotiation process.
Commission and bonuses are important incentives for salespeople. Employers use them to motivate their staff and employees appreciate the boost to their salary. The balance between salary and commission and the payment of bonuses is a critical one to get right. This is very often a key element of the negotiation process during recruitment and it pays to be clear on your own objectives and limitations. You can read more about this in our blog Sales Bonus Packages Explained.
Finding the right candidate and welcoming them to your team may seem like the end of the story. Sadly, there are some candidates who will change their minds once they start and it’s your responsibility to make sure their experience during the first few months (and beyond, of course) is positive. Develop a training and onboarding process that supports their personal development and success. Make it as easy as possible for them to do their job well and help them to integrate well with your team and organisation by communicating clearly around procedures, culture and expectations.
Being successful in sales in today’s market means constantly re-evaluating the approach. What worked last year, or even last month, won’t necessarily keep generating results. HVAC is a fast-moving industry going through a huge amount of innovation and change. The things customers are looking for will evolve.As a business, you should be supporting your sales teams by checking in with them on a regular basis and encouraging them to share knowledge and experiences between themselves. Maintain a culture of improvement which looks at emerging techniques, industry updates and new software for communication and marketing automation. Offer sales seminars and other learning opportunities where you feel these may be useful and invite your employees to raise their own training needs.
One thing we haven’t mentioned yet is tracking and KPIs. This deserves an article of its own but for now, all we’ll say is that it’s important to measure the right things. Results matter more than the number of daily calls made and the quality of a lead is way more important than volume. Every business is different and you may have your own ways of measuring performance. If so, we’d love to hear what’s worked well for you. Drop us an email at email@example.com – we might include it in an upcoming blog!
True sales leadership is as much an art as it is a science. Here at Thornhvac we have been recruiting HVAC sales engineers, managers and directors for more than 20 years and we have learnt how to spot the traits of a truly inspiring leader in the field. You can read more on this topic in one of our most popular blogs The Art of Sales Leadership which has recently been reviewed to bring it right up to date.
If you are on the lookout for an exciting new sales leadership opportunity, check out our latest jobs.