As founder of a startup, an entrepreneur is everything—chief executive, operations manager, finance officer, human resources head, and top salesman. But when the time comes that there are just too many sales a one-man army could handle, it’s time to call in the troops. It’s time to build your sales team.
All things in a company being equal, you will need to build a sales team first, because sales will drive the growth of your business. Therefore, adding sales staff and improving your existing personnel are necessary to bring your business to the next level.
Carl Dy knows all about that level— the highest levels, in fact. As director for sales of Ayala Land Premier, he is tasked to deliver the sales needed for a high-end brand of real estate. He handles a team of 80, with eight managers handling 10 sellers each.
“My day-to-day role is to equip the sellers that go out in the market, because they carry our brand,” says Dy, 35. “Their experience has to be in line with what the brand is talking about. That’s the No. 1 thing that I teach my sellers.”The sales veteran also has some ideas for building a sales team for any industry or business, not just real estate. To wit:
Pick the right players.
“I always use this analogy: if you’re building a basketball team, make sure you get somebody who knows how to play basketball,” he says. “I would see some sales teams that are playing basketball but hiring billiards players—they’re good at what they do, but not in line with what they sell.”
Ayala Land Premier, adds Dy, likes to hire people “who have the heart for property, the heart for selling, the heart to be of service to clients. It’s a very highly service-oriented job; if the client makes you wait for an hour, you have to still be pleasant when you meet that client,” he says.
Give the team direction.
“As a leader, you have to be both a manager and a leader—be transactional and inspirational,” Dy says. “You always have to remind them who or what are they living for, and yet tell them step by step what to do. I would hear of some managers who would say, ‘Go out, make that sale, reach your quota,’ but they don’t tell their team what I should be doing, where they should be improving.”
Train them daily.
Sales training should be daily, says Dy. If there’s a newspaper article relevant to your business or industry, “talk about it so your people get smarter daily.” The leader’s role in a sales group is very critical, he adds. “If the leader decides to just sit back and be hands-off, the sellers will have a hard time doing their job. It’s like a battle; you have to be on the ground to understand what (the sales staff) is going through.”
Build their knowledge.
Sales people should know their products inside and out, including any updates or recent improvements made. “We keep on educating our sellers not only about our product, but also how the property market is, so that when they go out there, they are knowledgeable, they come across as a consultant, not a seller or agent,” Dy says.
Sellers also have to know what’s best for their buyers, he adds. “In fact we tell them that if they come across a buyer who is financially not yet ready, don’t push it, because you don’t want buyers who have difficulty paying.”
Build the right culture.
The culture of a sales team is very important, says Dy. “Is it a culture of support where you help each other out, or is it kanya-kanya (to each his own)? It’s very important that the leader sets the tone; motivation is a big part of the culture.”
A good sales team leader would be someone “who’s been with (the entrepreneur or founder) from the start and knows the product in and out, (and) who likes to go out and communicate,” adds Dy. “For me, you cannot see a good salesman while looking at a report card. I would look within the company. You will want somebody who will lead the sellers and handle your daily sales work.”
In the end, the entrepreneur-founder must still be the best salesman in the company, says Dy. “Definitely you have to be the best in all aspects; you have to be the most meticulous in financing, the best salesman of your product, because your people are looking up to you, they emulate you.”
“If you’re excited about your product, you can really share your enthusiasm,” he adds. “That’s what your sellers will go out and cascade into the market.”
Photo: Miguel Nacianceno
This story was originally published in the October 2012 issue of Entrepreneur magazine.