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3 Simple Steps to Help Startups Maximize Their Leads Early-stage startups often work with limited resources and a small team of employees. This means that it's vital for every person to be able to capitalize on sales leads with the least amount of effort possible.

By Ksana Liapkova Edited by Micah Zimmerman

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Early-stage startups often work with limited resources and a small team of employees. This means that it's vital for every person to be able to capitalize on sales leads with the least amount of effort possible.

It's hard to put everything together when you're in the beginning phases of building your startup, and there's so much advice out there that it can be confusing to know what's right for you. This how-to guide offers three simple steps for businesses that are just starting to make the process of hiring, introducing lead quality metrics and optimizing your sales motivation system a simple process.

Related: Sink or Swim: How Focusing on Your Team Will Help Your Startup Succeed

1. Build your base

When you're first hiring, it's essential to start with a solid foundation of people who understand how and when to "deviate from the script." These people can take the initiative and will end up being the ideal managers and leaders your company needs down the road.

Before you set up your first interview, create a "portrait" of this person. What qualities do they have? What are their strengths and essential talents? The more detailed you can make this profile, the more likely you will hire the right people.

When hiring a sales team for Admitad ConvertSocial, we experimented by hiring experts with excellent sales experience but no experience in our niche and by hiring experts with less sales experience but who worked with influencers. Bloggers, which are our targeted group, need an individual approach. That's why we initially thought that the second group of experts would have more luck. However, the results exceeded our expectations because salespeople with solid sales skills showed much better results which helped us to finalize the portrait of the experts we were looking to hire.

It's also important to remember not to overlook things your gut tells you are incompatibilities. If a person seems perfect but has a red flag, they are not the right fit for your team. You will likely have to fill their spot on the team later on, so it's best to save yourself the headache and wait for the right candidate.

When you've made your hires, give them a probationary period to measure their performance. After three months, measure these three KPIs: results, productivity and customer relationship management.

Related: Build a Stellar Sales Team

2. Empower your team

Even the best team cannot function efficiently if they do not have the right tools and goals set in front of them. When a sales department is first being built, it's impossible to guess the plans accurately and the department's key performance indicators (KPIs) will need to be reviewed after each reporting period.

It's best to develop dynamic daily, monthly and quarterly KPIs. For our company, we base them on the 80/20 "Pareto principle," but any format that results in clear, achievable and motivating goals is a step in the right direction. We analyzed our current work, made a sales plan and used that to determine measurable KPIs for our managers. Our daily KPIs include new contacts, received responses, registration, deep links and first clicks.

Another important aspect of empowering your team is preparing message templates that sales managers can use as jumping-off points when building leads. For example, making a list of "standard objections" relevant to your industry is helpful and creating templates for working through each objection helps the workflow.

Be clear that managers do not have to meticulously follow the guidelines in the template. Creativity is welcome and preferred; the templates are simply tools to help speed up the sales process. Giving your managers discretion to modify templates according to their experience can increase conversions and garner loyalty from your team.

However, before we let our managers get creative with clients, we have an insider exam and test the scripts to train each team member to feel ready to communicate with the first line directly.

Related: 5 Ways to Empower Your Employees

Finally, ensure your team has all the information necessary to capitalize on leads immediately. Compile any documents your sales team might need in a single, easily accessible location, such as a shared Google drive or a secure cloud server. We use an internal directory that includes the work schedule, working files and all necessary resources so managers can navigate nearly all questions.

It's also important that these documents are clear and quickly scanned for information. If needed, it's worth the investment to hire a professional writer who can make your sales documents clear, concise and polished.

We also find that creating an FAQ document that covers common questions and scenarios is a valuable tool that empowers your sales team. When they don't have to seek out a manager over every tiny detail, they are more productive and able to handle situations independently.

3. Make the rewards worth the effort

Your motivation system should be flexible and aligned with your team's accomplishments and wishes. Remember that your sales managers are, first and foremost, people. Talk to them, and find out what motivates them, why they're working with you and what challenges they're facing.

This gives you a complete picture of the person and helps you determine what type of reward structure will be effective for them. Some managers thrive on being given more responsibility, and others are most motivated by extra vacation hours or a bonus for hitting specific KPIs. If you can maximize this reward structure, your team will be happy to work hard and generate sales.

For example, we often award bonuses based on relevant leads because we've found that's something rewarding and motivating for our team. What's doable and relevant for your sales team will depend on your industry, so be as flexible as possible when initially setting up your reward structure.

In addition, pay attention to the market and what competitors are offering as perks and rewards. You should always be willing to adjust your reward structure based on the market to stay competitive and keep your best employees happy.

Related: The Best Ways to Reward Employees

Capitalizing on sales leads requires a great team

Ideally, early-stage startups should create structured processes for attracting and developing clients. Sales managers should have clear areas of responsibility and simple, straightforward guidelines for all tasks they are required to complete.

The point is not to confine your sales team to a rigid framework. Instead, it's to give them a clearly defined system in which they can operate freely. This allows your company to build an effective sales funnel and generate high-quality leads, even in the earliest stages.

Ksana Liapkova

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Head of ConvertSocial

Ksana has been a speaker at world-class conferences on affiliate marketing and is in contact with more than 35,000 clients of ConvertSocial - a Mitgo company, involved in the blogging industry, which allows her to always be aware of the latest trends in the world of influencers.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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