How to Build a Successful Sales Team

10 min read
Oct 20, 2023
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Remember that rush of excitement and hint of trepidation as you embark on a new venture? Well, get ready because we're diving into one of the most thrilling and challenging aspects of business: building a successful sales team from scratch. 

You’ll learn to blend skills, personalities, and strategies for building a killer sales team.

You are at the helm of this ship. So roll up your sleeves, and let's go!

What is a sales team and what are its goals?

A sales team is a group of professionals dedicated to selling the company's products or services to potential clients or customers. Sales teams play a fundamental role in driving revenue and business growth. Members of a sales team, often referred to as sales representatives or salespeople, are responsible for building relationships with clients, understanding their needs, and persuading them to make purchases. 

These teams employ various sales techniques, strategies, and communication skills to achieve sales targets and contribute to the business's overall success.

The goals of a sales team typically revolve around:

Setting goals for your sales team before its formation is crucial for clarity, motivation, and strategic planning. Clear goals provide direction, motivate the team, and enable efficient resource allocation. They also serve as measurable criteria for evaluation, set expectations, and enhance adaptability to changing market conditions. 

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Sales team roles and responsibilities to consider in your company

A sales team has several key roles, each with specific responsibilities that contribute to the team's overall success. Here are the primary roles of a sales team:

  1. Sales representatives: They are the frontline professionals who directly interact with potential customers. They initiate contact, understand customer needs, demonstrate products or services, negotiate terms, and close deals. Sales representatives build relationships with clients and work towards meeting individual sales targets.

  2. Sales account executives: Account executives focus on managing existing client accounts. They nurture relationships with current customers, ensuring their needs are met, addressing concerns, and upselling additional products or services. Account executives aim to retain clients and foster long-term partnerships.

  3. Sales managers: Sales managers oversee the sales team, setting targets, developing sales strategies, and monitoring performance. They analyze market trends, identify opportunities, and guide sales representatives. Sales managers are responsible for team training, motivation, and ensuring the team meets its sales goals.

  4. Sales directors: Sales directors are senior executives who develop the overall sales strategy for the organization. They align sales objectives with the company's goals and objectives. Sales directors often work closely with marketing teams to ensure consistent messaging and branding. They make strategic decisions to drive revenue and market expansion.

  5. Sales operations managers: Sales operations managers focus on logistical and strategic aspects. They streamline sales processes, implement sales technologies, analyze data to provide insights, and ensure the sales team has the tools and resources to perform effectively.

  6. Sales development representatives (SDRs): SDRs are responsible for prospecting and qualifying leads. They conduct outreach, engage potential customers, and determine if the leads meet the criteria for becoming sales opportunities. SDRs play a crucial role in the initial stages of the sales funnel.

  7. Sales engineers: Sales engineers have a deep technical understanding of the products or services being sold. They work alongside sales representatives to explain complex features to potential clients, address technical queries, and ensure the product meets the customer's requirements.

  8. Customer success managers: While not always considered part of the sales team, customer success managers ensure customer satisfaction and retention. They maintain relationships with clients after the sale, address concerns, offer support, and ensure customers receive value from their purchased products or services.

Building a successful sales team from scratch

Building and managing a successful sales team requires strategic planning, effective leadership, and continuous support. Here's how to build and manage a strong sales team step by step:

Define clear objectives and goals

Set clear, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for your sales team. Goals are the North Star guiding every action and decision. They are not just markers but the essence of your team's purpose. 

Let’s take Company X, for example, a startup that aimed to increase its market share by 15% in the first year. By setting SMART goals, focusing specifically on their market share, measuring progress, and ensuring achievability, relevance, and time constraints, they achieved their target in ten months. This success wasn’t a stroke of luck. It was a result of meticulous goal-setting and strategic planning.

Clear goals provide direction, ensuring every team member understands their individual and collective purpose. Align these goals with your company's overall objectives. Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the team's progress and success. Regularly track and evaluate sales performance with these metrics to ensure everyone is on target.

2. Hire the right talent

Identify the skills, traits, and experience necessary for your sales roles. Look for candidates who align with your company culture and possess excellent communication and negotiation skills.

Note that when recruiting sales reps, certain skills and qualities are indispensable. Emphasizing these traits ensures you assemble a team that meets challenges and thrives amidst them.


Sales environments are fluid and subject to market shifts and evolving customer preferences. Team members must be adaptable and open to new strategies, technologies, and market dynamics. Those who can swiftly adjust their approach, learn from setbacks, and pivot when necessary are invaluable assets.


Ups and downs mark sales journeys. Resilience, the ability to bounce back from rejection and setbacks, is a fundamental quality in a sales rep. Resilient team members view challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. They persist in adversity, maintaining enthusiasm and motivation even in challenging situations.

To find the right people, conduct thorough interviews and assessments to evaluate candidates' abilities, motivation, and cultural fit within your organization. Be bold and embrace diversity. A diverse team enhances creativity, fosters empathy, and broadens the team’s understanding of varied customer needs. It helps to build a sales team in a vibrant, inclusive environment where unique strengths converge to drive exceptional results.

how to motivate sales team

3. Provide comprehensive training

Offer comprehensive training programs that cover product knowledge, sales techniques, customer relationship management, and industry-specific insights. Comprehensive sales team training involves understanding specific needs and customizing programs accordingly. You can use diverse methods like workshops, role-playing, and online courses. 

It’s good to provide hands-on experience through practical scenarios and fundamental customer interactions. Also try to offer continuous learning opportunities and leverage coaching from experienced leaders. It’s inspiring.

Evaluate your training effectiveness on a regular basis. Adapt programs based on feedback and evolving market demands to ensure the sales team stays skilled and confident. Additionally, offer ongoing training and coaching to enhance skills and keep your sales specialists updated with the latest market trends and sales methodologies.

4. Foster a positive team culture

More than others, the sales department is highly susceptible to competition, as it directly interacts with customers and influences business revenue. Maintaining a positive work environment among sales reps is crucial for several reasons. Sales professionals thrive in a positive work environment. Their motivation, resilience, and innovation drive effective deal closures. Enhanced team collaboration enables collective problem-solving, fostering resilience against challenges. 

Positive customer relationships are cultivated, enhancing satisfaction and loyalty. And high employee retention ensures a stable, experienced sales team capable of reaching established goals. 

To achieve a positive work culture among your sales executives:

Communicate openly. Schedule regular team meetings where members can openly discuss their progress, challenges, and ideas. These meetings create a platform for sharing insights and addressing concerns collectively. If your team is tired after having its own sales calls and is hesitant to meet with the rest of the team, consider maintaining asynchronous communication using one of the collaboration tools. Utilize digital collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Asana. These platforms facilitate team communication and project management, ensuring everyone stays in the loop.

Encourage transparent communication. Team members should feel comfortable sharing their opinions and concerns. Foster an environment where constructive criticism is welcomed and valued.

Practice active listening. Cultivate active listening skills within the team. Ensure that everyone has the opportunity to express their thoughts and that others genuinely engage with their ideas. Acknowledging each other's viewpoints builds mutual respect.

Recognize and reward achievements. Constantly boost the morale of your customer success reps. Implement peer recognition programs and celebrate both individual sales specialist and team successes.

5. Emphasize customer-centricity

Train your sales team to understand customer needs and pain points thoroughly. Encourage active listening and empathy during customer interactions. Focus on building long-term customer relationships rather than pursuing quick wins. Customer satisfaction and trust are essential for recurring business and referrals.

If you’re wondering how to motivate your team without money, here's a short read you might want to share with them

6. Utilize technology and sales tools

Develop and document a standardized sales process, including lead generation, qualification, presentation, negotiation, and closing techniques. Regularly review and optimize these processes based on feedback, market changes, and performance data. Invest in sales CRM software to manage customer data, track interactions, and streamline communication within the team.

Explore various sales tools to gain insights into customer behavior, sales trends, and team performance. Use this data to make informed decisions and be closer to your team.

The right sales tools will help you in your day-to-day work, especially if you manage a remote sales team spread across the globe.

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7. Provide regular feedback and support

Nothing is worse than an employee working in a void without feedback. And I'm not talking about micromanaging. It has nothing to do with it. Employees working in isolation without feedback can lead to disengagement and decreased productivity. It's important to provide guidance, recognition, and constructive input regularly. Healthy feedback fosters a supportive work environment, encouraging employees to grow and excel in their roles.

Conduct regular performance reviews to provide individual sales managers and team performance feedback. Recognize achievements and offer coaching and mentorship to help team members overcome challenges and enhance their skills. 

8. Adapt and innovate

Stay agile and adapt to market changes, customer preferences, and industry trends. Encourage your team to identify new opportunities and adapt their strategies accordingly. Leverage AI and machine learning to analyze customer data, predict trends, and personalize sales strategies. Foster a culture of innovation where team members are encouraged to experiment with new sales approaches and techniques. Encourage them to try different methods of cross-selling and up-selling.

By focusing on these key areas, you can build a successful sales team that achieves its targets and contributes significantly to your company's growth and customer satisfaction. Assess your strategies and processes regularly, and be willing to make adjustments.

sales team names

Come up with funny sales team names

This one might not directly impact your revenue, but it might influence your sales reps in a good way. Creating clever and funny sales team names can boost morale and create a positive atmosphere. Here are some witty suggestions:

Nurturing and mentoring high-performing sales reps

As we've explored the strategies that make a great sales team, it's evident that effective sales leaders are the backbone of this success. Leaders inspire, mentor, and guide the entire sales team to achieve peak performance. 

Every customer success representative, from the seasoned veterans to the enthusiastic newcomers, contributes to the collective outcome. With dedicated sales leaders steering the ship, any business can win. 

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