Building a Sales Team for Growth w/ Bryan Mueller

#71: Listen as Bryan Mueller, HubSpot Channel Account Manager, discusses how to build a sales team. He and Tyler cover the process of building a modern sales team, hiring new sales reps, and thinking about that process on a high level.

Listen to the episode by clicking play below OR search “the sales lift” wherever you get podcasts.

Check out the full transcript of this episode below:

The Sales Lift Podcast
Episode #71
Building a Sales Team for Growth w/ Bryan Mueller
Hosted by: Tyler Lindley


[00:00:00] Tyler Lindley: Hey, Sales Lift Nation, it's your host, Tyler Lindley. Today, I have my buddy Bryan Mueller on the podcast. Hey Bryan, how's it going? Doing well, Tyler, how are you? Great to see you again, Bryan. Second time joining the podcast today. We're going to be jamming on how to build a sales team. Right, Bryan, I know this is a topic you're passionate about and I want to hear how shit built for those folks out there.

Wondering how to get a sales team off.

[00:00:25] Bryan Mueller: Definitely. Thanks for having me on again, excited about this topic. I've had a lot of conversations with my clients on building their current sales team, hiring net new sales reps onto there and what that process looks like and how to think about it on a high level, and then bringing it down to the tactical aspects of it as well.

Excited to talk about it and chat

[00:00:44] Tyler Lindley: here from a high level, if you're at a point in your company's growth, where it's time to start having. What does good look like? A lot of companies do it accidentally, right? It's a founder led model. They're in there doing all the work amongst all their other responsibilities.

Should the founder keep running things? Should they hire what's that first step? It

[00:01:01] Bryan Mueller: is a tough hire your first sales hire, for sure. And when I think about the type of profile that you want to hire for an individual in that role, it's essentially, you don't need your absolute all-star sales rep, but you need someone with the business acumen and presence of mind to give you a feedback loop into what's working and not working in the field.

So we can adjust value propositions, product, your product focused company, product build, and things along those lines and product development as you move forward. But for those owner led sales companies, a lot of times it's just taking what's already in their head and process sizing it down into a sales process that someone can come on and learn and understand what are the steps and stages from one thing to the now.

And a lot of times that's a process for the owner himself. What is the stages that I'm doing right now? I'm just winging it. How does someone get help being able to build out that Salesforce?

[00:01:49] Tyler Lindley: Right. Exactly. Cause I think a lot of people are just winging it initially. So referral driven model, they're winging it.

They've just brute force grown it to a certain stage. And now they've realized that they can't do any more themselves. They've run out of individual bandwidth and you've got to bring on that first hire. Should that person be a sales leader? Should it be a sales? Should it be hiring lane? STR what did they do then?

Are they the sales leader? There's a lot of steps, a lot of questions. Overwhelming. Should they do? I think that

[00:02:16] Bryan Mueller: the first thing before you even go to look at someone is take the things that you're currently doing and put it down on paper, get it into sort of a process in a repeatable way of going about having conversations from first touch to.

Closed one. And then it depends on what role you want to play as an individual, as an owner of a company of, do you want to continue to be the salesperson? You just need more people into your funnel. Then you go the SDR route and figure out how do you get to connect calls, to leverage where you don't want to do that.

Hardcore prospecting that maybe you're probably not doing your referring referrals, but you just need leverage to get more people. I go STR out. I think when you're so used to doing the sales role, it is hard to think about what am I going to do afterwards. And that's when that transition of working in your business to working on your business really comes into play.

And then you become a people manager. How do you manage this person to take it? What you've built and processize, and take it to the next level is every hire. Raising the bar from what they were brought into that next stage. Do you think that the

[00:03:14] Tyler Lindley: owners should stay on as the lead sales rep or is that a role that they need to relinquish pretty early on?

Because that can be a time consuming role. And it's one that you want to, we've talked about top of funnel with an SDR. Or there's an a E or you could bring on that sales leader first. I feel like they need to get out of the sales process as early on as possible. Do you agree? I hate to

[00:03:34] Bryan Mueller: say this answer and it's my answer a lot of times, but it depends.

Yeah. It depends on what their hope is for the organization. I've worked with companies who it's a lifestyle type business and they just want to grow it a little bit versus the ones who want to scale. And a lot of times the one who want to scale, no matter how good they are at sales, getting out of their own way.

Is a lot of times the acceleration that they need. And then all of a sudden they can start seeing those wheels work by getting sales professionals who are trained in the craft of selling into that role. And it just gives you so much more leverage. And then you come over top on deals over X amount of dollars or strategic partnerships or things like that.

[00:04:12] Tyler Lindley: It sounds like you recommend before we do any of this, get the process down on paper, get the process down. Let's clearly identify what we're doing. Would you go so far as build a playbook for any new hires as well? What do these owners you're getting out of the sales process. What do they need to have that they hand to that new sales rep, whether it's SDR, a sales leader, what do they need to give that person on the first day of their.

[00:04:34] Bryan Mueller: I think there's a couple of different things that they should take out of their head and put down one is who their ideal customers are in business-wise. And then who are the individuals who they serve within those businesses? I think types of conversations, like who makes the decisions there, or who's involved in decisions there, they should start to really document what are the main pain points that they solve in the more.

And then what are the value propositions associated with that? From there there's different stages of the sales process, whether they're running it in a stage type of thing, where it's like this call to that discovery to demonstration, to negotiation, to close, and you can put those down, or a lot of times, it's just, what are the questions you ask to help a prospect uncover that they need your information and just start there.

You can even build more as you go with that individual. Ooh, we're in a conversation and you're realizing that this is really important. Pull up a Google doc, put it down and have that new rep, make it into something. The next person after them can have that resource as well. Yeah. It's funny though. Cause I think a lot of these owners they're in there, they might have sales teams already and they're all doing the same thing.

No one has a process and things along those lines was that's okay. I think it's fine to start that way. You got to put that information down, let people know day one. When you come in, this is the companies we sell to who we sell, why they buy, why we win, why we. And the questions that we should be asking

[00:05:50] Tyler Lindley: throughout the process.

Exactly. I'm glad you brought up the questions. Cause I feel like I work with a lot of SCRs, top of funnel on a consistent basis. And we talk a lot about questions, questions they can ask at the beginning of the sales process, but really that holds true at any stage of the sales process, whether you're on a connect cold call, whether you're on a discovery call, you're in a demo you're closing.

, Do you think that the owners are typically, are they already asking these good questions or do you find that that's a key step to try to identify what questions should we be

[00:06:16] Bryan Mueller: asking? Key step? I think the biggest thing that I've worked with organizations on their sales process is their pitching rather than their understanding, learning and educating.

I think a lot of times there's not many industries that I can think of that aren't competitive or some sort of commoditized where there's someone who does something. The same as you, if not better. And organizations don't biologically, where is the best solution for me, they typically buy off of the sales rep who best understood their scenario and ask the right questions to be able to get their viewpoint of the world and then positioned appropriately because there's a bunch of different things that a company most likely can hang their hat on as it relates to a value prop.

If you hang your hat on the wrong value prop like priority number seven. And the other guy hung it on priority. Number one, because he asked better questions and helps stack rank those priorities in the sales process, that guy's going to beat you every single time, whether or not your product service has this different feature functionality we

[00:07:16] Tyler Lindley: may do.

It's a lot about the, how you sell and there's it. HubSpot is harped on that and that's been drilled into both of our brains was just like, it's all about how you sell. It's not what you sell. It's how you sell. And everything that we're talking about is. It is the how, and there probably is an existing how, but you need to make sure that your, how you get that together because that how that go to market, that plan either is going to determine whether you win or lose.

It's rarely about the actual product or service. Like you said, there's a lot of competitors, but that how is how you stand out. And usually the reason why they choose. Exactly.

[00:07:49] Bryan Mueller: And I think if I step back for a second too, with where a lot of my conversations are right now with sales leaders, company owners is they're looking for growth, whether they have a sales team or they don't have a sales team, there's essentially two different ways to grow within sales.

You're the owner, and you need to just throw more human capital at it when you need to hire and you get more people having the same conversations over and over again. That's just adding a human capital, adding head count to your sales team. And then the second one and arguably the more cost-effective one is.

The productivity and enablement of a rep productivity per rep, how do you enable them and get them better, faster, stronger to sell more rather than just bringing on a new head. And the ideal is how do you hold both of those levers at the same time? How do you get productivity per rep to a max while onboarding appropriately in a systemized fashion that continues retention, reduces ramp and really get that sales team

[00:08:39] Tyler Lindley: I'm in for you.

When you hear about people talking about growth, it's like, I'm going to go. Two SDRs and two AEs, and they're going to have a sales manager and we're going to go take over the world. So you hear it as it's all human driven, but they rarely are talking about I'm going to go hire these people and here's everything we're going to do to enable them to do their job.

Well, here's all the playbooks and processes and tools. We're going to give them.

[00:09:01] Bryan Mueller: It's amazing. There's conversations that I have with agency owners, for example, where it's like, oh, Joey is doing so well. He's selling X amount of dollars. I'm going to go get another Joey. And I'm sitting there. I'm like, yep.

I'm like, I actually think Joey can do a lot better. Why don't we focus on teaching and getting him to where he needs to be? It enabled him. Without going to add another head count. Then once we have that perfected in him, pretty much maximized the us, understanding what that maximization of a sales rep is that productivity that we can get to.

Well, now we bring somebody in to be able to do that. And you might do that after three reps, you might do that after four reps. And ideally you're bringing on people who are raising the bar each time we're going to help you do that even more than you can as an individual or an owner of a

[00:09:42] Tyler Lindley: business or whatever.

I feel like when people go out to hire, they talk a lot about, I'm going to go find just that shark. I'm going to go find the best sales person in the history of sales, which that person doesn't exist. I want to close their coffee's for closers. They're going to go find that person, that unicorn who's going to take over the world and be that loan shark.

They're going to do everything. And it's really hard to find that person I'd rather have. The system quarterback, if you talk about sports are going to make a football analogy here, but if you talk about the system quarterback, it's like that, guy's a pretty good quarterback, but he's in a really great system.

Give me the system quarterback, which is really like talking about the whole team and how they construct everything. I want that person who fits in because there's a lot of system quarterbacks out there. And there's only so many times. Teamwork makes the

[00:10:29] Bryan Mueller: dream work. Give me a team player, but it's also, let's say you find that Tom Brady, I'm not a page.

I'm a giants fan. Unfortunately like let's say you finally go, right? Let's say you finally, it's not easy to keep him or her. She's probably very sought after, after all of these different reputable cultures and businesses that are high growth. Man, you're going to spend so much time trying to keep her in your company or your get her up to speed.

Six months later, she's like, you know what? I'm going to go over here. Cause there's a lot more fish in the water and I'm a shark type deal. So I like your systems analogy. You give me that systems player fits in.

[00:11:03] Tyler Lindley: Exactly. It is hard to retain good sales talents, who, especially today, I've talked about this on the podcast with some others too, is you've got to give them a reason to stay.

It's not just about building the system and now I've get them all these tools. And now I go find the right rep, why are they going to have. What is your company's north star? Where the heck are you going? And why are you going there? If they don't attach themselves to that mission, you're probably going to have a tough time keeping them around, whether they're Tom Brady or their whoever system quarterback, you're going to need to have a north star.

And that's something that I feel like a lot of sales

[00:11:34] Bryan Mueller: org. A hundred percent. I think it's that commitment to the vision and the actual mission of your organization that gets someone so passionate and that comes across in their voice and their tone and how they communicate your message to them. I think it's key to make sure you have that right person to see 100%.

[00:11:51] Tyler Lindley: Let's talk a little bit about. How do you make sure this new rep you built some of this process, you've documented these things. They've got this document, this playbook, this process that they're walking in John Day one. How do you make sure they're successful though? How do you make sure in that first 30, 60, 96 months, 12 months, how do we make sure that's a smooth process?

Because they likely never people just bring it on sales rep for the first time. You can give them those tools, but that's not it. Now we're dealing with a live human. And we got to make sure we're keeping them up. We've got to keep watering that plant. How do you make sure you keep them happy and you get them up to productivity as quickly as possible.

[00:12:24] Bryan Mueller: That is great question. And it is, I think, where most organizations fall, you made a great sales hire. They're going to get in there. Did next to Tyler, listen to his calls, make it your own. Go after and go get. And they're left as a small shark in a big pond, and then they get bored a little bit, or they don't have the guidance to be able to get there.

And I think it's more time consuming than most organizations. Think, for instance, when I was the sales trainer over at HubSpot, one of our big north stars, and one of our big metrics that we were looking to move was reduction of ramp. How quickly can we get someone to full ramp? And that's how many months it typically took a sales rep to be ready for full quota.

[00:13:04] Tyler Lindley: Um, this was a few years ago, so I'm going to guess probably five

[00:13:08] Bryan Mueller: months, we were up at nine months. Wow. Nine months. And we were working down to get him to seven months and to even shorter than that. But if you think about it the first full month, it was all training. It was everyone's phrase was drinking from a fire hose, drinking from a fire hose.

Don't you get

[00:13:28] Tyler Lindley: sick of hearing that I get sick of. My gut. Buzzwords are always all drinking. We're on the internet every day is the fire hose. If we're not, I don't know what you're doing. Yeah. What do you do? What do you do?

[00:13:40] Bryan Mueller: It's funny. Cause there's times where I'm saying these cliche terms, I'm just like, I got to

[00:13:44] Tyler Lindley: stop.

I'm not ragging on you. I'm just saying that is what everyone says. No one has ever gone through onboarding at a company and not walked out saying I've been drinking from a fire hose all week. I haven't retained much, but I'm trying my hardest figuring out.

[00:13:57] Bryan Mueller: I think the onboarding it's also determining what's the bag.

This rep needs to hold. Once they get on their thing, what's the knowledge and information that they need to know in order to enable why you hired them. What is that look like? How do you plan that out in a systematic way that builds on itself, but it is in a timely manner that has a learning a way of reinforce.

People learn in different ways. It's not just telling how do you get them involved in it? How do you get them actually doing it? How do you give them feedback and things along those lines? Because when I think of this, we'll touch a little bit on the onboarding aspect of it. But if I go back to two different ways to grow the sales it's human capital, and then it is enablement of the rep, but then the enablement of the rep aspect is being able to understand and determine what are the key.

KPI's and the biggest indicators that you need to change and move to help them get to the next level. And that's where your sales management level comes in. And how do they make sure that they're pushing on the right things at the right time based off of what they know about them and having a sales process.

That allows you to see they don't have enough activity comparative to the team or their conversion rate from here to there, or they have call recordings that you go through and you're missing that level for the why they're going to buy or why now type of deal is another key aspect to make sure you onboard them, transfer of knowledge, coach them appropriately, and then enable them for why you hired them as it relates to their skills, their personality, and the things like that,

[00:15:21] Tyler Lindley: which half the battle there is just capturing that data.

What KPIs typically are important. And then how are we going to capture that data? What are the inputs we're going to put into our CRM so we can get the outputs, the data we need to make actionable changes to give them feedback. Hey, you're great. At closing you can't prospect at all, or vice versa, what are those KPIs?

And it needs to be clearly defined if they're full cycle. If they're just top of funnel, SDRs hell, even the managers and the KPIs, then. So you've got to have KPIs for everyone. And that's part of building the system. Nailed it. One

[00:15:53] Bryan Mueller: of the things that I always challenge organizations on is there's a book I read called working backwards about Amazon fantastic book, recommend it.

And the challenge where it says everyone focuses on an outputs. What's your quota? Are you at quota attainment? Is it consistent quota attainment? You can't control outputs. The only thing you can control is the inputs. So that's where you focused on number of new deals, the number of outreach, number of discovery calls and focusing on the things that you're putting into the process, rather than what's coming out the back end.

I often say someone's like, if we were to sign up with you, we're planning on increasing X amount per sales. That's what we need to offset the ROI. I usually take a step back and I'm like, look, I can't. Forced people to say yes to you. What we're going to do is increase the probability of them saying yes, but I can't force them to say yes.

So I'm not guaranteeing anything. What I'm guaranteeing is the probability of more yeses, not the actual yes, because I can't control that. No

[00:16:49] Tyler Lindley: one. Exactly. I like not guaranteeing it all is probabilities. That's all we're trying to do. You build these systems and you increase that productivity per rep, by doing all of these things, you increase the probability of their success.

Does it mean it's guaranteed success? Of course not. There's a million different variables at play, but you want to give yourself the best possible opportunity, which is why just throwing headcount. Isn't always the right way.

[00:17:13] Bryan Mueller: Exactly. Everyone loves. I guarantee this and I guarantee that man, if anyone guarantees you anything, sure.

If I give you a dollar and you're gonna tell me to get $5 out, you guarantee I'll put all of my dollars there. You can have

[00:17:24] Tyler Lindley: every dollar, no one

[00:17:25] Bryan Mueller: will ever be able to do that. And if they do a little, like first should throw up a red flag at first, I think the core of it is measure inputs, track outputs, and then you can start to see what you can do to change those outputs.

It's going to be in your inputs. It's going to be. We don't have enough people in the funnel or enough outreach. We need an SDR to give us more leverage. Now, once we have an SDR and more things are in the funnel, how do we increase the conversion rates and get our reps closing at a higher percentage to close rate

[00:17:52] Tyler Lindley: companies have to take this training, this coaching, this feedback loop, the mentoring.

You've got to take that part seriously because if you just hire them and put them in the system, they may or may. Succeed over a long period of time, without that consistent feedback and consistent outreach, consistent coaching reps need that reps are like plants that they've got to have that water. And if you stop watering them, they're going to start looking for other places to go, because they're concerned about their personal and professional development, and you've got to make.

You're not only making them productive for you, but you're keeping them happy and they're not looking around because you're not taking care of them. And they feel like they're still growing and they're learning. They're being a better rep. They're becoming a better salesperson.

[00:18:34] Bryan Mueller: Nailed it. That circles back to our early conversation at once you're in there.

How do you keep them in there? And how do you make sure that they're happy in their cultures? There it's continuous growth. Anytime someone says to me, Brian, that looked great, Brian, good job. Give me some corrective. Do you care enough to criticize what I'm doing on a way to help me get better? Or do you not know enough to get me to the next stage, which is fine.

Give me something and I want to grow. I want to challenge myself. It, sales is tough and most top sales reps end up leaving because they get tired of the conversation. They're really good at the conversation, but there's nothing challenging. Again, I got this one down. I'm to be. Figure out something else.

That's why I think it's important for companies to innovate, give them a new product line to sell you a new service, to sell, have them figure that type of stuff out. And I'd argue with the systems and the growth and the culture is what keeps your talent. And I think there was a guy I used to work under at HubSpot named Ryan Ball.

Awesome guy. He used to say, I worked to make people so good that every company wants to hire them, but I treat them so well if they never want to leave. And that stuck with me because he lived up to that treated me well, helped push me. He's a guy that you want it to be under the leadership of. I think that's important as you think of growing a sales team, you need to have someone that is the leader as well, especially as you get into that.

And a lot of times those will emerge as you start building out your processes of who's going to put in the most input, who's helping to facilitate all of this. It's a really interesting challenge of growing that sales team through head count through productivity, onboarding culture. All those different things.

Management. It's tough when it's a singular owner, who's doing it. That falls all on them. That's

[00:20:04] Tyler Lindley: not an easy thing to do. Totally agree. Awesome. Brian, we could go all day, but where can my listeners find you online? If they want to learn more?

[00:20:11] Bryan Mueller: I'm on LinkedIn. You can find me on Twitter as

[00:20:14] Tyler Lindley: well. We'll put them in the show notes.

Really appreciate you coming back on. It's always a pleasure. Thanks for having me, Tom. All right. Have it going?

Thank you so much for listening to today's show. You can find all the links discussed and the show That's the T H E sales S a L E S. Lift L I F have questions for me. Email We look forward to seeing you back here next week, and we hope today's show brings you the sales lift.

Your business needs. Remember ideas. Plus action equals. And you've got new ideas. Now it's time to take action and the results will fall. See you next time. .

Don’t feel like listening? Read the Episode Cliff Notes instead below:

Getting Started with Hiring (0:23)

You don’t need an absolute all-star sales rep for your first hire, but you need someone with the business acumen and presence of mind to give you a feedback loop.

Before you even go looking for someone, take what you’re currently doing and put it down on paper. 

Get it into a process in a repeatable way of having conversations.

​​Hardcore prospecting that maybe you’re probably not doing your referring referrals, but you need leverage to get more people. 

Enabling Your New Hires (7:51)

Enabling your new hire depends on what your hope is for the organization. 

Bryan has worked with companies with a lifestyle-type business, and they want to grow it a little bit versus the companies who want to scale. 

Often the ones who want to scale, no matter how good they are at sales, can’t get out of their own way. Acceleration is what they need. 

Identify what you’re doing and document the main pain points you need hires to solve. It doesn’t matter where you are in the process. You need to ask good questions. 

Ideally, you’re bringing on people who are raising the bar each time.

It is hard to retain good sales talents, especially today, so you have to give them a reason to stay.

It’s a commitment to your organization’s vision and actual mission that gets someone so passionate. So it’s key to make sure you have that right person.

Once a hire gets their groove, focus on the knowledge and information they need to enable why you hired them.

Bryan recommends the book Working Backwards.

Measuring Success (17:02)

The core of it is to measure inputs, track outputs, and then start to see what you can do to change those outputs.

You’ve got to take that part seriously because if you hire sales reps and put them in the system, they may or may succeed over a long period without that consistent feedback and consistent outreach.

You’re not only making them productive for you, but you’re keeping them happy because they feel like they’re still growing and learning.

Sales is a tough industry, and most top sales reps leave because they get tired of the conversation. Of course, they’re good at conversation, but nothing is challenging. 

That’s why companies need to innovate, give them a new product line to sell you a new service, and have them figure out new problems.

Important Links:

Bryan’s LinkedIn Profile