Sales career advice: How to find the right sales team

by Steli Efti
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So you want to join a sales team. But not just any sales team: You want to join the right team, the best team. And that’s great! But how do you find that team?

I’ve got the answer, but you’re not gonna like it: It depends.

It depends on a number of factors, because there’s no such thing as the single “best” sales team. What’s right for me may not be right for you, and what’s ideal for you may not be for someone else.

So although I can’t tell you what’s “right,” I can guide you through the process of figuring it out for yourself and that starts by getting clear on what you want.

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Finding a sales team that aligns with your goals

First things first: What do you want out of this elusive “perfect” sales team?

The question might seem simple, but your answer determines how you’ll move forward. In my experience, most people get into sales for one of three broad reasons: Money, passion, or personal development.

  • Money: It’s no secret that if you’ve got the skill and the will, sales is one of the quickest ways to generate substantial cash flow.
  • Passion: Some simply love the art of selling. The idea of qualifying prospects and closing deals excites them and they want to dedicate their career to it.
  • Personal development: Others see sales as an opportunity to learn and grow. Perhaps they (correctly) believe sales experience will make them a better communicator or entrepreneur.

Whatever your reasons, be as specific as possible. For example, “I want to join a sales team to learn how to sell” is far too broad. What exactly do you want to learn?

Those are all very different skills requiring very different teams. To find a sales team that meets your needs, you need to know exactly what those needs are.

The 4 factors to consider when looking for a sales team

Now that you know what you need from a sales team, let’s take a look at the factors to consider before making a decision; the team itself is an important aspect, but it’s far from the only factor to consider.

When selecting a sales team, you want to look at it from four different levels: Industry, company, team, and leader.

  • Industry: What industry is the team a part of? Is it showing signs of growth? Stagnation? Decline? Is it an industry you feel excited about? One that’s aligned with your goals?
  • Company: What company is the team a part of, and what’s their reputation and place in the market? How’s their financial situation? Is their company culture aligned with your values?
  • Team: What’s the culture within the team itself? Friendly strength? Hostile strength? How competitive are they? Do they have a habit of winning or losing? Is it full of salespeople who are passionate and driven? Team members who will inspire and motivate you?
  • Leader: Who would be your boss? Do they have a track record of success? Will they help you grow as a salesperson? Have they accomplished the things you want to accomplish? Are they respected by their team?

Although all four factors are important, pay extra attention to the leader. You could have the best team in the best company in the best industry, but if your boss (the person who has the most influence over your career) isn’t aligned with your needs and desires, you probably aren’t going to get what you’re after.

Determining if a sales team is the right fit for you

I threw a ton of questions at you in the section above, and many of you are probably wondering how the hell you’re supposed to find the answers before joining the team.

If that’s you, don’t worry. Here are three strategies to discover everything you need to know before making a commitment.

1. Start your research online

With a little effort, you can find almost everything you need to know about a company online. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Glassdoor reviews can tell you a lot about a company, from their culture to their salaries to their management style.
  • LinkedIn is a great way to connect with both past and current salespeople for any company, most of whom would be happy to answer any questions you have.
  • A blog can offer a lot of insights into a company’s core beliefs, culture, and priorities.
  • A mailing list is a quick and easy way to stay up-to-date on what a company is doing.
  • Social media channels will show you how a company interacts with their audience, and how their audience views them in turn.

If there are two things the internet has an abundance of, it’s information and opinions. Tap into those before deciding whether or not a sales team is the right fit for you.

2. Become a prospect

As the saying goes, there’s no substitute for experience. When secondhand accounts and online research aren’t enough, get to know a sales team by becoming a prospect.

Sign up for their trial. Experiment with the product. And when one of their salespeople reach out, pay attention:

  • How’s their energy level?
  • What’s their sales style?
  • Are they skilled and knowledgeable?
  • How do they respond to questions and objections?
  • Do they treat you with respect?
  • How do they handle rejection?
  • Do they follow up after the initial call?

In addition to the insights you’ll gain about team operations, this experience will also equip you with invaluable information for the interview process.

Instead of being “just another candidate,” you can impress the interviewer by saying, “Hey, I signed up as a prospect. I noticed X, Y, and Z. I’m curious, why do you … Have you thought about … I thought it was interesting that …”

With that level of initiative, you’ll be miles ahead of most other candidates.

3. Ask for references

During the interview process, most sales managers expect a list of references who can attest to your attitude and aptitude. If you ask me, this should be a two-way street. Since a manager can either make or break an otherwise great sales team, it’s only fair you get references as well.

As the interview progresses, find a time to ask something like, “Who was the last person you onboarded/trained? If you don’t mind, I’d love to talk with them about their experience working for you.”

That question might seem bold but, as someone who has hired scores of salespeople, I can tell you it’ll impress those worth impressing.

Most managers would be happy to provide you with a few references. And those that aren’t willing? That tells you all you need to know, too.

It’s all about you

Picking the right sales team is an incredibly personal choice.

Some people thrive in a highly aggressive, highly competitive sales environment. Others prefer a friendlier setting. Some people love inbound sales, others favor outbound. Some love knocking on doors, others are more comfortable over the phone.

In the end, it’s all preference. There’s no singular perfect sales team, because there doesn’t need to be. All that really matters is finding a team that’s aligned with your unique needs, goals, and ambitions.

If you’ve got that, you’ll go far. And in doing so, you’ll take them far.

Oh, and speaking of finding the right sales team, Close.io is hiring in all departments! If you think you’d be a great addition to our team, apply now.

We're hiring. Check out open positions!

Don't like reading? Here's the video where I discuss how to find your perfect sales team. 

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