E41 - How To Pick A Company Build a High Performing Sales Team Ed Walsh, Chaos Search

A good-performing sales team is crucial in driving successful relationships with customers. That’s why having the right people fill up a sales team is important. The right people for sales roles, along with having the right skills and competencies, must also have the right attitude and character for sales.

It’s hard to find the right people for sales roles. It’s rare to find someone who can check all the boxes, especially if situations call for specificity. So when managers and sales leaders find someone who fits most of their criteria, they take the opportunity to get that person on board.

This is the philosophy Ed Walsh subscribes to. In this episode of Tech Sales Insights, Ed talks about how to build a high-performing sales team, the importance of having plans, and the differences between working in a startup and a big company.

Ed is the CEO of ChaosSearch, a digital platform that allows companies to consolidate their cloud analytics into one space. Ed started his career with EMC as a salesperson. He then moved on to CNT where the CEO was a great mentor of his. Afterwhich, he took on the CEO role at Avamar before finding himself at IBM.

His long and varied career has allowed him to develop a keen sense of the right people for the right tasks at the right time. All three, for him, are key components in making sure you have a high-performing and highly successful team.

Why You Need a Plan

The importance of having a plan, for any situation, cannot be understated. When Ed joins a company, he typically has a 90-day plan which includes understanding the environment, identifying what needs to be done, and how he’s going to achieve what’s needed.

His advice for others seeking to join a company is to have a plan as well. You need to ask yourself if it’s the right opportunity and the right moment for the skillset that you currently have.

Having a plan provides clarity. It helps you frame what you need to do, how you would set things up, what questions you need to ask, and what strategies you may need to implement.

How to Build a Sales Team

When building a sales team, Ed looks at the product-market fit first. This would indicate if the company currently has the right team. This allows new managers and executives coming in to assess where the team is at that point and how far they have yet to go.

Asking questions to that team is important too. You’d typically want to have people who have a growth mindset, willingness to learn, and inherent drive, rather than those who become defensive when receiving feedback.

When building a team, having a plan is also valuable. Part of the plan in building a team is to have conversations to get alignment. Understanding what the goals are and what you need to bring in to achieve those goals helps in getting the right talent.

Once you get the right talent, then you need to make sure those people are doing the right things every day. Having open conversations about strategies and goals allow teams to be focused. When they have focus, they perform well.

This also applies to finding an appropriate sales leader for that team.

Ed typically looks for the right person for that right time. He looks for someone who won’t tick all the boxes on his checklist, but someone qualified enough to be able to drive an execution strategy. This shows that they are already experienced in sales and have the hunger to reach out to customers and drive deals.

Once you’ve built that team, to make sure they perform, they need to be given the right tools and training.

There are plenty of training methodologies available so Ed advises to just choose one and stick to it.

The old stuff (i.e. the old ways of training) are still effective too, according to Ed. Though it doesn’t hurt to have the right technology stack to enable salespeople to work better.

In essence, building a team and giving them the best tools and training they need to succeed all comes down to having a plan and understanding what needs to be done in order to accomplish the goals set out for you.

Startups vs. Big Companies

The grass isn’t always greener, says Ed. That works both ways for those working in either startups or big companies.

Big companies have structure. There are specific things that employees need to do and follow. For those that prefer a structured environment, big companies might be the best place for them.

That isn’t to say that startups have no structure. They do, but they are less structured. They have a bit more flexibility in how things get done. For Ed, startups, particularly good ones, are a great way for people to accelerate their careers. The nature of startups allows people to learn quickly and forces them to adapt quickly as well.

Ed’s advice? Go join a big company and learn for the first few years. There, you’re going to get someone who will mentor you. That’s harder to do in a startup, but not impossible. Big companies, though, are still the best training grounds for people wanting to grow their careers in the business world.

Once you get training from a big company in a few years, the world becomes your oyster.

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