A quality sales team can be an effective tool for attracting clients to your company and bringing in substantial revenue, even though general consensus can occasionally paint salespeople in a negative light, sometimes unfairly and sometimes deservedly so.

That being said, hiring the right number of salespeople is paramount as well. Too few and you may be missing out on prime sales opportunities because you’re stretched too thin. Too many and you may be paying out more in salary than you can financially afford.

Here are a few of the factors that you should consider when determining the ideal size of your sales force.

Paying Special Attention to Customers and Competition

customer competition of sales people

It’s important to look at customer behaviors to get a better idea of the ideal makeup of your sales team. Engaging in an effective customer-based analysis is crucial to ensuring that proper time and effort is going into addressing your customers’ needs. Do your customers tend to ignore sales calls? Then hiring more salespeople probably wouldn’t be the most prudent move. Do your customers constantly complain about lackluster service and that their needs are not being met? If this is the case, then you could probably use a more substantial sales force.

To get a better idea of the number of salespeople you’ll need, you’ll want to focus on what your competitors are doing as well because this could give you a strong indication of current market demands. If competitors are cutting back on their sales teams, it may mean that you should think about doing the same, whereas competitors expanding their sales forces is telling as well.

Paying attention to both customer and competitor practices may not be the be all and end all, but it will certainly give you a better grasp of what your sales team strategy should look like moving forward.

Don’t Let the Short-Term Costs Cloud Your Judgment

photo of coins representing short term cost for sales people

When determining the extent to which you plan on expanding your sales team, you’ll want to consider the long-term effects. This is in spite of any potentially intimidating short-term costs.

Right off the jump, you may be skeptical of your decision to bring in new salespeople because you’re not bringing in additional revenue as quickly as you’d like to. Getting new hires into the swing of things can certainly take time. But, you could ultimately see your revenue increase exponentially if you stay the course.

According to research conducted by Harvard Business Review, those who are most successful in achieving ideal sales team numbers look at least three years ahead in terms of profitability. Those who focus too heavily on immediate revenue tend to not look past first-year numbers. They can undersize their sales team by an average of 18%, causing them to sacrifice profitability in the end.

Know How to Properly Interview Prospective Salespeople

photo of sales people in a magnifying glass showing the act of identifying sales people

Hopefully, after conducting the appropriate market research and calculating short-term costs as well as long-term benefits, you should come to a rough idea of how many salespeople you’d like to bring on.

Now comes the challenge of ensuring that you only have the most qualified people possible. But how do you go about most effectively making sure that you’re bringing in the right people for the job?

This is done through effective research and interviewing tactics. When interviewing candidates, be clear about your expectations and be as detailed as possible with your questions. Ask prospective salespeople what their exact sales process is. What is their experience with the specific market that you’re working in? How would they deal with and best serve your client base?

Sites like Hubspot provide a whole host of important factors for you to consider when hiring the most effective salespeople. But, when it comes down to it, you know your business the best. A salesperson can look good in person and on paper (hint: because they’re usually good at selling themselves and their skills), but you ultimately know what it is you’re looking for and you should express that during the interviewing process.

Why Sales Is Important to the Ultimate Success of Your Business

Depending on how you look at the sales model, it can either be an enticing venture or a dubious enterprise. Whichever way you personally lean, you need to, for the sake of good business, look at your company through an objective lens and ask this question: How important are sales to the success of my company? Can you reach your sales goals and sustain profitability with a smaller sales team or is expansion necessary for your company to thrive?

These questions may take time to answer, and while you may not come to a conclusion on the exact number of salespeople you should hire right away, you should, with the proper preemptive steps taken, be able to effectively move in the right direction.

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