You may have built an agency by yourself, but you won’t be able to scale it if the CEO does all the sales.
If your agency is past the 10-15 employee stage, a sales team is essential to help it grow.
This article shows you all the steps, with practical insights from our influencer marketing agency, inBeat. You’ll discover examples, actionable advice, and an inspiring success story from our sales team.
Keep reading below.
0. Is a Sales Department Feasible for Your Agency?
From our experience at inBeat, an agency is ready for a sales department, especially if:
Your average deal size is considerable: The term “considerable” depends on your business. However, a minimum threshold after which you can consider a sales team is above $2,000.
You have multiple sales to keep track of by yourself: You cannot fit the extra responsibility of customer relationship management in your day without compromising your other responsibilities as agency owner/ CEO.
The sales cycle is long enough: Typically, a long enough sales funnel is at least one to two weeks long - longer for the B2B sales cycle. In this case, it’s tougher to keep track of all details regarding your potential clients and your interactions without having a sales team to help.
Conversely, your agency may sell very well with only social media marketing, client referral, or email marketing. Multiple small agencies don’t need separate sales and marketing teams because they attract and qualify their potential clients on social channels. If your agency is new, you may achieve your sales goals with content marketing and social selling.
If you make the transition towards a new business model that has a sales team, consider your budget. Apart from monthly pay, the commission totals 5-15% of the product’s value.
This commission depends on the services you’re selling and your sales people’s experience. Consider your overall expenses – these commissions, their salaries, taxes, and insurance, plus your accountant’s increased fee. Then, compare these expenses to the projected sales.
If your expected ROI justifies these expenses, it’s a clear sign you need that sales team.
Once you have established that you need a sales team, we can continue with the actual steps of building one:
1. Set Your Goals (So You Can Have Clear Expectations)
Starting from your goals ensures you build the best sales talent for your needs. Basically, you’re keeping your eyes on the prize.
How many products/service packages will you sell to your ideal clients?
How much will your ROI increase throughout the entire sales process?
What is your sales strategy to reach those metrics?
What skills do your salespeople need to have to achieve those goals on a consistent basis?
For example, inBeat is an influencer marketing agency that sells done-for-you influencer campaigns.
We have a very clear idea of how many services/ service packages we sell and our expected ROI.
Though I can’t share those numbers here, we use these metrics to assess new salespeople’s performances.
For example, you have to know your goal is to sell 3 service packages per week per salesperson.
And that your ROI will increase by 135% from those sales.
Insider tip: If you achieve those metrics easily – you need to set more challenging KPIs.
Based on those goals, you are now ready to set your sales strategy.
At inBeat, we use a mix of cold calls, expert outreach, and relationship nurturing. We have a great small business phone system integrated with robust CRM software to keep track of all our metrics.
We observe potential clients who show interest in our website and then we reach out to them, asking them about their pain points and needs.
We then offer personalized solutions, without pushing them or sounding spammy.
And now you need to jot down the skills your salespeople need to implement this strategy correctly.
Our salespeople at inBeat need to be highly educated in influencer marketing. They must also know the latest digital marketing trends.
And they’ll use those insights to be more persuasive during the outreach/sales process.
If you have a web design agency, your sales team must:
Be up-to-date with the latest web design trends.
Understand all the technical details surrounding your agency’s services.
Know how to read and showcase portfolio pieces.
Answer difficult questions from color psychology to coding and web development.
Once you know this, you can establish a team structure.
More on that in a minute. For now, here’s an:
Insider tip: Goals are not enough. You also need a vision to understand:
Where you want to get your agency
Your sales team’s role in reaching that vision
For example, inBeat aims to empower marketing specialists and companies. That’s why we build data-driven done-for-you campaigns but also offer a bevy of free tools that you can use in most marketing plans.
Basically, your vision helps you develop the best products/services for your target audience, which turn into highly persuasive arguments for your sales team.
2. Build Your Sales Team Persona
To build your sales team persona, you must set:
The roles your sales employees will take throughout the sales pipelines
The type of salesperson you need for your target audience
2.1. Sales Team Roles
Some agencies prefer a traditional team structure that looks like this:
Team leaders: They oversee the entire team and develop your sales strategy.
Sales representatives: They generate quality leads, qualify prospective clients, and close deals.
Niche specialists: These experts in your industry support the sales team with practical knowledge. For example, the sales department of a marketing agency may need a marketing specialist to help them understand the benefits of quality content. If you own a web design agency, your sales team should count on a web development/ web design specialist.
Other agencies favor a more collaborative team structure where all salespeople are responsible for both inbound and outbound sales.
Consider the pros and cons of both options.
A salesperson who prospects, books their calls, and does the actual sales has a generic skill set in sales. However, your agency might need specialized individuals –in this case, a traditional structure might work best.
Our inBeat sales team is made up of:
Sales development representative: Does the first meeting, builds proposals, and handles a high volume of cold calls.
Sales manager: Runs proposal meetings and helps the SDR optimize their work. This is the closer in our team.
Sales assistant: Vets the incoming leads to ensure they’re quality and we have all the information on them. They will work on the CRM, keeping it constantly updated and on point.
Sales rep: Does outbound sales, such as email or LinkedIn events.
Pro tip: You may also consider a managing partner to oversee the entire sales team.
2.2. The Type of Salesperson You Need
A mistake most agencies make is viewing the job scorecard as the be-all-end-all. Sure, you will need that job scorecard and here’s a neat example from Hubspot that you can use:
But beyond this, you will need to create a sales team persona, much like you build a buyer persona. The generic advice is hiring skilled people who:
Share your agency’s culture and vision.
Value team spirit.
Understand your overall marketing efforts.
Beyond those values, consider what type of sales you make to create a sales team profile.
Some sources quote:
Hunters: Actively find prospective clients and customers through outside work, such as cold calling and emailing.
Farmers: Grow existing customer bases into a flourishing business.
Farmers are better suited for long sales cycles, such as expensive B2B software services. By contrast, hunters are better for average-value orders and short sales cycles.
For example, you need hunter-type salespeople if your product value is $3,000-$7,000, and your sales cycle lasts about seven days (meaning one or two calls).
Here are the differences:
Sell high-volume products
Sell low-volume, high-value products
Make multiple calls to different potential customers
Nurture customer relationships
Typically focus on your customers’ needs and dreams to close the sale
Usually concentrate on precise numbers and facts
3. Find the Right People on the Channels They Use
Finding the right people for your sales team rests on two pillars:
Interview numerous people to ensure you have enough good candidates: Consider that Harvard admits just 4% of its applicants, so you can follow the same principle when choosing candidates.
Use the right channels: That may mean using social media and influencers, recruiting tools, or specific job databases.
Side note: TikTok has become an excellent platform to hire Gen Z-ers, which is why many brands have started using it.
And then, you can use QuickMail to streamline your outreach and arrange your interviews.
Here’s what inBeat is doing:
We post job ads on LinkedIn and job databases. We also use freelancer platforms if we’re not hiring for full-time positions.
Insider tip: Ask your connections (employees, professional acquaintances) if they know suited people for the job to receive personalized recommendations.
You can also pitch your job opening at specific events.
How can you tell you’ve found the right people?
Our VP of sales, Maxime Charlebois, has a unique approach to ensure the people we hire have the right personality:
They must NOT value stability: A good salesperson is goal-oriented and result-driven. They must always want to scale up and challenge themselves to achieve goals. That’s because a sales job earns from commissions massively, so there’s no ceiling to how much a salesperson can earn.
They must want to learn (but not by themselves): Salespeople need to have this innate desire to optimize their work and improve themselves. They must be open to suggestions, learn from their call recordings, and master tools like Chat GPT for email optimization or QuickMail for cold emails.
However, it’s best if they crave to learn from their team members and mentors instead of getting ahead alone. And that’s because salespeople should be team players and humble by nature. Even if they have extensive experience, they should know there’s always room to improve.
4. Emphasize Your Company Culture
The two most important points here are to:
Find passionate, knowledgeable people.
Create a sales culture that’s more than just meeting some numbers.
From our experience at inBeat, good salespeople must exhibit:
Knowledge about marketing (because that’s our niche), CRM, and email marketing
Pro tip: Typically, two years of background in sales is a good spot for any agency.
To attract those people, you need to create a solid sales culture.
At inBeat, we’re human first, which includes having a good vibe and building connections.
And we are data-focused, meaning we rely on data more than opinion.
If you follow those two principles, you will also create a solid sales culture.
5. Offer the Right Compensation
The best compensation for sales teams is salary plus commissions because commission-only pay doesn’t offer enough job security.
The salary must be enough for the people to survive but not become complacent.
Side note: Most specialists agree that salespeople should be the highest-paid professionals in a company.
That’s where the commission-based pay comes in.
The typical fee is 5-15% of the sales order value. So if the salespeople in your agency achieve their targets, they will likely make 70-80% of their earnings from that commission.
Pro tip: Pay the commissions monthly, not quarterly. This tactic will give them enough motivation to make more sales.
And you can think of other incentives. At inBeat, we offer:
6. Offer Growth Opportunities
inBeat provides salespeople with unlimited growth opportunities – and so should you.
An assistant can become a sales manager. An SDR can become a sales manager.
Our salespeople have the potential to build their teams and get a specific area, such as managing all Europe leads.
And as our VP of sales, Maxime Charlebois, says, the upside is unlimited money-wise. The more they sell, the more compensation they receive.
Besides, Maxime is an excellent growth story himself.
He started working for inBeat two years ago, in 2021. At that time, Maxime didn’t speak English, didn’t know the industry, and hadn’t sold any high-level services.
Maxime was previously selling marketing and social media services to local business owners who were mostly uneducated about the benefits of online marketing. They also had smaller marketing budgets. So, Maxime knew nothing about selling B2B digital marketing services to a highly educated client base.
Here’s how that panned out:
Maxime took English classes twice per week for a year and recorded all his sales calls. He learned about larger-scale marketing projects and business development, hired a mentor, and mastered different software to optimize his work.
He also learned how to build the sales process from A to Z.
In his own words:
“It’s a matter of learning. If you’re always learning, you’re building your skill set, and you bring more to the table every week, I think you’ll just grow.”
Remember: Helping your salespeople grow means that your sales team becomes stronger. And with a strong sales team, the sky’s the limit.
7. Train and Develop Your Sales Team
The two key points during the onboarding process are:
Offer consistent training, but:
Consider different learning styles.
At inBeat we:
Have created several training videos for different stages in the onboarding process. We teach our trainees how to use email automation tools, how to address our target market, and all our sales process steps.
Keep training meetings four times per week to look at the new employees’ pain points and challenges, helping them set realistic goals.
Rely on shadowing, which Maxime handles in the majority of cases. New employees will follow him and sometimes do small tasks such as preparing meetings or recap emails.
Have our salespeople learn from their recorded meetings and calls.
Here’s a common question you might have too:
What if someone doesn’t meet their quota?
Handling this matter properly is a major part of onboarding and building a solid sales team. You cannot simply let people go without trying to help them first.
At inBeat, we want to optimize and use our team.
We use the production and marketing departments, and our VP of sales pitches in too. These teams collaborate to determine where the sales rep has challenges in the process and how they can help.
Typically, we give multiple chances, starting with adjusting the evaluation criteria.
If the sales rep still cannot meet these expectations, we wonder if we can use their skillset elsewhere.
The main point is always striving to help people achieve their goals. Generally, they will appreciate this help and be more motivated to learn and produce results.
8. Monitor Your Sales Team’s Efforts
Lastly, you must keep track of your sales team’s efforts to:
Identify pain points.
Reward top performers.
Develop a sense of accountability.
Stay ahead of your competitors.
Consider factors such as:
Daily goals may include:
The target number of meetings
The number of proposals
The number of follow-ups
And other variables, depending on the specific sales role
However, the decisive factor is the sales amount – at least in inBeat’s case. While we work with the sales rep to optimize their work and achieve the daily objectives, we view these metrics as intermediate steps toward the main goal.
And we already explained that a good sales team must be united and work together to reach a common goal.
This article showed you how to build a successful sales team from A to Z.
You must first know your goals to determine the best type of sales team. Your agency type will influence whether you need hunters or farmers, a rigid sales structure, or one with interchangeable roles.
Remember that the best salespeople are high-achievers who cherish growth more than stability. They should value learning and thrive in teams.
Offering them great training and growth opportunities is essential. That’s how you develop their potential and make them feel truly part of your team, so your agency can grow unhindered.