5 mistakes SMB leaders make when scaling sales

Scaling sales is a problem that every leader faces at some point in their company’s lifecycle. On every digital platform, the amount of information on what to do versus what not to do, can be overwhelming. That overwhelming feeling is amplified if you are not someone who gravitates towards sales and sales people.

For the time being I’m not going to cover sales hiring because that is a huge topic. I cover that in a different post called: “The SMB do’s and don’ts of sales hiring”. In this post I want to focus on common challenges SMB leaders face when they decide to scale their sales team. Many of you are here now or hope to be there soon.


A common misconception is that if you put a bunch of salespeople on the phone or in the field that they will sell something. In many cases they may get lucky and sell a few licenses of your product….but in time, committing solely to this old school approach will leave you disappointed. In the meantime you burn through expenses, staff and sales cycles with potential customers.

As a leader your role is to make sure that the sales team scales and ensure that revenue growth happens as quickly and effectively as possible. That being said it is also your responsibility to make sure that anyone you hire is supported in his or her path to success. Avoiding the everso common pitfalls will help you get on track faster and add more value to your future team.

The 5 most common mistakes are:

1. Ignoring the concept of sales culture.
Sales people are emotional creatures that need to feel energized and inspired when they are at work. They gravitate to teams and feed off each others energy to tackle seemingly impossible tasks. Keeping their energy high and the team focused on growth is a lofty job. You cannot ignore that culture plays a big part in keeping this revenue engine moving. Your team will need constant reassurance, support and engagement through the peaks and valleys of your “selling seasons”.

2. Not building a realistic compensation plan.
You can promise someone the world but the minute they realize you cannot deliver they seldom stick around. Many companies try to lure sales people in with promises of a tremendous earning potential if they sell a target number of accounts or bookings. But if those goals are seemingly unattainable or you do not have the infrastructure (marketing support, sales resources etc.) to support these goals, they will soon figure that out and leave.

3. Not investing in marketing and lead generation.
So many leaders assume that if you get a bunch of people cold calling you will grow exponentially. This is false. Cold calling can help you build some traction but it should be one of many tools in your sales toolkit. Sales people need leads, the market needs to be educated and you should never underestimate the impact of brand awareness to salespeople’s efforts.

4. Thinking Sales is a “Set it and Forget it” department
Sales people need to be managed. I’ll say it again “Salespeople need to be managed”. If you’ve never managed salespeople there is a high probability that you underestimate the impact that management has on sales performance. Salespeople by nature are high touch employees and need constant interaction, inspiration and guidance.

5. You are underestimating the work
Building an effective sales team takes a lot of effort and planning. Between sales onboarding, training, sales and marketing alignment, hiring, compensation plans, sales process and forecasting there is a lot of room for error. It is a lot of work. The best sales people can see when a company is just “faking it until they make it” and they may not stay around to find out how the story ends.

Want more insight on how to enable your team with the resources and processes to impact your growth this year? We’d be happy to connect with you.  Feel free to schedule time with us here.