Guest Post: 9 Steps Proven to Build a Successful Sales Team From Scratch


Eliot Burdett

 Building a sales team from scratch is one of the most difficult and important tasks of a CEO. Generating revenue through sales, especially as start-up capital diminishes, can make or break a company’s success. However, hiring the wrong salespeople costs dearly in time and treasure. Fortunately, there is a well-defined formula for success.

Eliot Burdett, co founder and CEO of Peak Sales Recruiting, offers some advice.

1)   DON’T BUILD TO SOON: Any entrepreneur yearns for revenue streams but if the product is not ready, the offering is shifting, the budget for an industry leader is not there or the appropriate management support is not in place, hiring salespeople can be a waste of limited resources. This is because the salespeople won’t have enough stability to be successful. Furthermore, prospects will want to speak to founders that have high domain knowledge and the authority to reduce the fear of risk associated with a young company. When these conditions stabilize, the time is right to start the recruiting process.

2)   DEFINE SALES TEAM STRUCTURE: Before hiring can commence, clearly defining the structure of the sales team is critical.  Will a rep handle everything from prospecting to closing or will there be separate teams for new business versus inbound leads? It is critical to define the process in advance so selling behaviors are aligned with the sales structure and strategy.

3)   ASSIGN TERRITORIES: Defining sales territories focuses selling efforts and prevents employees from targeting the same accounts and cannibalizing their efforts. Territories can be defined by geography, sector, or business size.

4)   MAP OUT INDIVIDUAL SALES GOALS:  Identify the goals used to measure success for each sales rep. These should include not only revenue goals but also the sales activity required to achieve the revenue. To derive these, work backwards, start from the desired output divided by the number of sales to arrive at the target number of sales wins, then determine the number of prospects, calls and amount of time required to win each sale. It is important to be realistic.

5)   DETERMINE BASE AND COMMISSION: Sales compensation plans vary widely across industries and companies, but as a rule of thumb, new business development positions pay a 50/50 split of base salary and commission. The compensation plan may need to be adjusted to provide fair reward for the effort and risk assumed by the salesperson, but more importantly, make sure it is high enough to attract the right sales people from competing employers.

6)   HIRE BASED ON SALES DNA AND NOT RESUME: Ideally, hire a candidate that has a proven track record of selling in startups. However, more important is to measure their sales DNA which we define as key traits of successful sellers such as ambition, perseverance, confidence, optimism, sense of urgency, desire to influence others, flexibility and ability to deal with uncertainty. The right DNA is the biggest predictor of sales success.

7)  FOCUS ON THE THINGS THAT ATTRACT TOP SALES TALENT: With limited funds, attracting top salespeople is difficult for startups, but not impossible.  The key is to make eye catching job ads, offer a viable and well defined career as opposed to just a job, get compensation offers right, and focus on attracting gainfully employed sales people, since the best of the best are always progressing well in their career. 

8)  IMPLEMENT A STRUCTURED ONBOARDING PROGRAM: The first 90 days of a sales rep’s employment is a critical time. Each day should be mapped out in terms of training on the product/service, the market and customers, and the selling approaches, systems and tools. Territory and account plan development and various other tests should be used to gauge learning progress and knowledge retention.  Companies that take the time to invest in onboarding reap the rewards down the road.

9)  MEASURE SUCCESS: It is critical that a new sales hire’s performance be monitored and measured closely. This is easy to do in companies with a shorter sales cycle, where it will be reasonable for a sales person to generate sales very quickly. In companies with a longer sales cycle, the focus needs to be on activities such as calls, meetings and pipeline of qualified opportunities. In either case, failure to monitor the activities can lead to poor habits, poor results and a failed hire which has awful consequences.

Building a sales team from the ground up is no easy task, but when done properly, it will lead to a powerful sales force that delivers strong and consistent revenue.

Eliot Burdett is the Co-Founder and CEO of Peak Sales Recruiting, a leading B2B sales recruiting company launched in 2006. Burdett received his Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.  He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast.

September in Rockford, IL

Check out these great events happening in Rockford in September! 
For more events happening in the Rockford Region, visit 
Jive in Your Ear 2015       

WHEN: Friday, September 4 - Saturday, September 5
WHERE: Nordlof Center and on Main Street downtown
Independent Ear, Inc. and 815 Local Jive are bringing a live music festival back to downtown Rockford! This free event for all ages features live performances by regional talent including Pistol Pete, 99 Proof Devils, Taboo Blah Blah, Mono in Stereo, and more. The event is being held in support of In This Moment Organization, which raises funds for families impacted by suicide. (More info)
Greek Fest 2015        

WHEN: Friday, September 11 - Sunday, September 13
WHERE: Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church
Downtown will be filled with the sounds of Greek music and the tantalizing aromas of Greek delicacies. There will be dancing (both modern and traditional Greek), food, baked goods, a raffle, and more. Friday night will also feature live music by local band Men of Our Times.(More info)
Greenwich Village Art Fair         

WHEN: Saturday, September 19 - Sunday, September 20
WHERE: Rockford Art Museum
Greenwich Village Art Fair is the longest-running art fair of its kind in the Midwest. The annual two-day event (held rain or shine) features artwork from up to 155 juried artists (on display and for sale), live music by local musicians, a gourmet marketplace, children's art activities and food and drink.(More info)
World War II Days        

WHEN: Friday, September 25 - Sunday, September 27
WHERE: Midway Village Museum
World War II Days includes elaborate and realistic battles complete with tanks, artillery, armored vehicles, and exciting pyrotechnic displays. More than 1,200 re-enactors will engage in battles, skirmishes, demonstrations and displays on Saturday and Sunday. Take a Behind the Lines tour on Friday evening.(More info) 

Recipe Contest for Healthy Aging Month

Healthy Recipe Challenge 2015

In an effort to promote wholesome eating and in honor of Healthy Aging Month, BrightFocus is holding a recipe contest. Your recipe should include at least three ingredients from the list below that are believed to be beneficial to brain and/or eye health. Visit to learn more.
  • Avocados
  • Bell peppers
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Canola/ olive oil
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Citrus fruits
  • Collard Greens
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Fortified dairy
  • Fortified milk
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Legumes
  • Lima beans 
  • Mango
  • Nuts
  • Oily fish (tuna, salmon, sardines)
  • Okra
  • Oysters
  • Peas
  • Poultry
  • Red grapes
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet and white potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Wheat germ
  • Whole grain
  • Yellow corn
Avoid foods that contain saturated fat and sugar.

Your recipe should benefit our audience of older Americans who are experiencing problems with vision or mental functioning and may need help following the recipe or shopping for ingredients.

The contest will run from September 1, 2015 - September 30, 2015.  Three winners will be chosen by BrightFocus Foundation. Each winner will receive a $100 gift card and BrightFocus prize pack.

Friday Feature: Meet Melody Kiersz

Melody Kiersz is an inspirational speaker, retreat leader, and Body Empowerment Coach. She is on a mission to boost women's self-worth, body image, radical self-love, and fearless authentic expression so they can have the confidence they need to take their love life and business to the next level. Melody is the founder of Naked Wellness and creator of Velvet Butter

Meet Melody.

Faten Abdallah (FA): Why is body image such a controversial topic in society?
 Melody Kiersz (MK): I'm not sure if controversial is the word, but it sure is a huge and important topic these days. Many women are waking up to the fact that we've been taught to adhere to a certain standard of beauty, and they are seeing that they have the power to redefine what beauty is for themselves.

We're seeing movements like the Body Image Project, the NU Project and hashtags like #effyourbeautystandard (this last started by Tess Holliday, the first real plus size model signed to an agency) take off, and women sharing pictures of their 'imperfect' bodies and calling each other to love themselves as they are.

As someone who's been speaking and sharing about self-love and body image for years, I'm very happy to see this happening. We're starting to see images in the media shift to incorporate more types of bodies, such as with Melissa McCarthy starring in Spy. Not only was she hilarious, she was also sexy as hell, showing how attractive a woman with a fleshier body can be. We're also seeing actresses and female music stars push back on the media pressure to look a specific way in order to be successful or attractive.

It's a very exciting time right now, and I'm very happy to see women empowering themselves and each other to change the conversation about what it means to be and feel beautiful.

FA: What are some ways women can fight negative body image?
MK: There are many ways to create space for a more positive body image to emerge. Some are more direct, and others a bit roundabout. That's because a negative body image in itself is an issue of thinking we need to 'fix' ourselves in some way, and taking an approach of fixing our body image problem is in some ways counterproductive.

Here are some suggestions:
1. Shift your visual diet
We are constantly bombarded with images trying to sell us a lifestyle that 'requires' us to look a specific way in order to be loved and successful. While it's impossible not to see all these images (and skinny is also beautiful), you can make a point of looking at and appreciating images of all kinds of bodies. There's plenty of body-positive images on instagram (you can follow me @melodykiersz for some), but you can also find some online to print and place around your house in places where you will see them every day. Another option is going to a Burlesque show: they are fun, and known to have people of all shapes, ages and sizes flaunting their stuff on stage.

2. Add daily self-care practices
We spend so much time criticizing the image in the mirror, which is why it's important to counteract this with self-care practices that tell our body how much we love it. You could write a love letter to your body, schedule a massage, go to the sauna or steam room, take a bubble bath... even taking a few minutes every day to caress your body lovingly makes a huge difference in how much you appreciate it.

3. Slow down and increase your pleasure
In our culture, pleasure is both something we pursue and a dirty word. But let's face it, we wouldn't want to be alive if pleasure wasn't available, now would we? So whatever it is that brings you pleasure and enjoyment, do it more. Is it chocolate cake? You have my full permission to indulge in it, but it has to be without guilt. Instead of taking it into your mouth without thought, slow down and look at it, smell it, savor it with all your senses. Or maybe you love to dance, so go ahead: put on some music, and shake your booty like no one is watching. Enjoy every stretch of your skin and movement of your muscles. Or to paint, or draw, or write. Do more of the things that make you feel good, and also pay attention to each thing that brings you pleasure in each moment: it could be the breeze caressing your skin, the delicious scent of garden roses, or a beautiful landscape.

4. Radical self-love
We all have things we don't like about ourselves, and there's no shame in that. But even if you don't like them, you can still love them. Just like maybe you don't like a relative but there's still love and appreciation for them in your heart. Whenever you encounter these parts of yourself that you don't like, try not to shut them off and open your heart to offer them compassion instead. Doing this helps us to feel supported and loved from the inside out so that we are no longer needing the approval of others to feel happy and confident.

5. Safety
A huge reason why women don't feel confident in their skin is also because they don't let themselves. The thing is, when we feel confident, we attract more attention. Sometimes that feels good, but sometimes we don't know what to do with it or it makes us feel like we're not safe. Many times women shrink their radiance to protect themselves, so it's important that they find ways to feel safe no matter the feedback we get from the outside. You can take some martial arts classes, learn the art of saying NO powerfully, and how to communicate your boundaries in a way that they (and you) are respected without having to shut down on your beautiful feminine radiance.

FA: How does body image affect you?
MK: In my view, the issue of body image is a lot more than just skin deep. It's driven by a deep need to have others approve of us because we've sadly been taught that there's something wrong with us since we were little. That no one will love, appreciate and respect us unless we look, be or behave in a particular way.

As women, we're not just taught to stay physically small. We are told we shouldn't be too loud, or too demanding or too selfish. That if we speak up or give directions, we're being bossy. We're essentially taught to not make up too much of a fuss, because no one likes that. We're told in implicit ways that if we take up too much space or too much attention we are casting a shadow over our playmates. We get mixed messages that we should stand out and be better than the other girls, and at the same time not shine so bright that we make them feel inadequate.

This push and pull leaves women feeling trapped. Like they're damned if they do show up in all the sparkle, and their also damned if they don't. It leaves us stuck and feeling like we can't win no matter what we do because we're either going to end up without friends, or we're going to end up without the intimate relationship and/or career that we want. So we play small in life, always wishing things were different.

Bringing it back to the pure physicality of it, having a poor body image leaves us without the confidence and power to go after the things we care about. We spend so much time and energy worrying about how big our ass is and whether we can wear a crop top or not that we have none left for our own projects, dreams or to even think about all the ways in which we could contribute to our communities.

As a general rule, women are prone to think collaboratively, look at the big picture and care about having a community that supports them and others who are facing similar issues. If women spent less time looking at the mirror and wishing they looked different, all that energy could be spent on creating supportive community services that can really have a positive impact on society and the world.

That's why I'm so passionate about the work that I do: when we let go of our focus on looking good and start putting our energy on the things we truly care about, we not only feel so good that our body image and confidence skyrockets, but we're also creating positive change for everyone around us.

FA: How can women build confidence in viewing themselves positively?
 MK: Asides from the tips above, it's also important that women surround themselves with supportive sisters who boost each other's self-confidence. As women, we tend to look at each other and compare, sometimes wishing we had her legs or her nose or her hair. We might even have the thought "Who does she think she is?" when we see a confident woman walking down the street; we feel intimidated and like she's going to get all the things we want. When you notice yourself having that thought, flip it: can you admire this woman and feel inspired by her courage to let herself be seen in her glow? If she can do it, so can you! So every time you see a woman like that on the street, it's a reminder to believe in and love yourself more.

FA: What inspired you to work in this field?
 MK: I've had my own struggles with not just how I felt in my body, but also feeling like I always had to be a 'good girl' and not rock the boat, or risk people (and men!) not liking me. I've always had great boobs, but I I thought that's the only thing guys were attracted to, and I was afraid of scaring them away by asking for what I want or saying how I really felt about something. I thought they would think I'm asking for too much from them, or that I'm too emotional.

Even when I did 'manage' to attract a guy, they would lose interest because I didn't stand up for myself. I thought I thought I was the best most understanding girlfriend in the world and they didn't deserve me, but the reality was that my self-worth was so low that I thought I needed to bend over backwards to keep the guy... and I wasn't even satisfied with the relationship!

I've done a lot of work in the last 13 years to undo all these subconscious patterns that were keeping me trapped. And I see so many women stuck in the same! I want to support them in realizing they are already worthy of love and they don't need to deprive themselves of the foods they like or expressing what they really want in order to be lovable and respected.

FA: What have you learned about yourself as you promote positive body image?
 MKThat I'm pretty tenacious when it comes to spreading the message of radical self-love, especially of all the parts we don't want to see in ourselves (physical, mental or emotional). I really want everyone to deeply get how worthy of love and appreciation they already are. I've definitely given up on spreading this message a few times, but when I check in with myself this is what always comes up and I get back in the saddle. Giving myself the gift of working on something I'm so gifted and passionate about is one of the ways in which I love myself.

FA: Anything else you would like to add? 
MK: Absolutely: for those ladies who are reading this and seeing themselves reflected in my words, please reach out. I'm opening my calendar for 10 complimentary consultations to discover how you're getting in the way of letting the amazingly sexy and powerful woman you carry inside outside of the box of 'shoulds' and out into the world. You can reach me at

Girls Can Play Too

There is a misconception that girls are not interested in sports. The truth is, nearly half of the fans in the major leagues are women and the number of female athletes continues to grow. Their voices need to be heard as well. Men currently dominate administrative roles in sports but women are gaining momentum as leaders in the field. Intrepid pioneers are changing perceptions and setting the stage for even greater female representation at the top of athletic programs. Created by Ohio University's athletic administration program, this infographic illustrates how women are beginning to play a more prominent role in the professional world of athletics and the challenges that still lie ahead for women in athletic administration.

OU Athletic Administration Online

Guest Post: Entrepreneurs - Surviving Burnout and Achieving Success Year after Year


Diana Ennen

Having your own business for the most part totally rocks! You’re the boss. You get to decide what goes on in the day-to-day operations, and most importantly you have a big influence in how fat that bank account looks. Life is good! But as many entrepreneurs will admit, it’s not always as easy as it sounds. And especially for those that have been in business for years, it can be challenging to keep excited about their biz. Not too worry, we are here to help.

Here are tips on Building and Maintaining a Successful Business:

·         You need to remain passionate about what you are doing. That’s the only way to keep going and face those odds, exhaustion and temptation to throw in the towel. You aren’t going to love what you do every day, but on the whole you have to believe in it and want to continue doing it.

·         Day to Day Business – You have to work your business right. And when you’ve been in business a while, let’s admit it, we can get just a tad bit lazy or bored. You don’t have the same jump and down ambition that you had in the early days, and that’s AOK. But you do need to once in a while give yourself a jumpstart. When you notice that you are getting tired and cranky of doing the same thing day in and day out and things take you three times longer because your heart just isn’t into it, that can be a sign a change is needed.

The good news is as an entrepreneur you can easily change. You don’t have to give up your business or your awesome clients. Figure out ways to get the passion and fun back. It can be as simple as adding new specialties or it can mean a complete reboot is necessary. Just be willing to evaluate it, know you need to do something, and then commit to doing it. Just do whatever it takes to get the energy and excitement back. And one more thing, don’t feel guilty at all because of this. It happens to the best of us. The smart entrepreneurs are those that recognize it and make the necessary changes.

·         Marketing can be Fun Too – We know marketing your own business almost always gets put on the back burner, especially when you aren’t as into your business as you once were. Now this can be a critical mistake. What you need to do is get back your marketing mojo. You do this by first doing something you really enjoy. The goal is to get you back into the marketing mode. When you do something fun, that can help and not feel like such a chore. Now add to it. Slowly add in more marketing that you know has been successful in the past. Before long, you’d be back at it and not even realizing you are doing it. Then the marketing magic happens.

·         Boundaries – Keep Them - We all know about boundaries. And we all know that they are hard to keep. Let clients know as a business owner and a valuable resource to them, you work best within those boundaries you have set. Reassure them that this enables you to always give 100%. Now, there might be times that a client really needs you and if it works out for you, then you can be a little flexible. Just let them know this needs to be an exception, not be the norm. If you do have to work an evening or weekend, take Friday afternoon off. Just remember to do what works best for you and your business.

·         Take Time for you -  I know everyone tells you to do this and next week when you have more time and this project is over you will. Stop it already! Take out your planner right now. Turn to next week and schedule in some “me” time. Now next week it might be a little difficult because you might already be booked, but do this for the upcoming month. Consider doing it at the same time each week so it becomes more of a habit. Now stick to it as much as you can. Consider getting an accountability partner who you love to talk with who can motivate you and inspire you to keep doing this. Just getting to talk with someone else, and truly be honest helps!

See how easy it is to keep your business going. The last thing to remember is sometimes you just need to take a break. It’s AOK to take a few days off and really think about what you want in your business. Go to the beach or get a change of scenery to get out of the office. It works. And of course, if you need help, consider hiring it. You don’t have to do your business alone and most businesses thrive because they realize this.

Diana Ennen, President of Virtual Word Publishing, offers PR and Marketing services and PR and Virtual Assistant Coaching. She’s the co-author of Virtual Assistant - The Series: Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA and So You Want to be a Work-at-Home Mom.

New Home Sales in the US

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, sales of new single family houses in July 2015 were recorded at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 507,000 units. This represents an increase of 5.41% from the June 2015 annualized rate of 481,000, but a decrease of 2.69% from the May 2015 rate of 521,000.

New home sales in the United States peaked in July 2005, when the annualized rate of sales reached 1,389,000 units. In March 2008, new home sales hit an all-time low, with an annualized rate of just 535,000 units.

Annualized New Home Sales in the United States (Data Curated by

New Home Sale Media Price in the United States (Data Curated by


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