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Building Your Federal Sales Team: 6 Questions to Ask Yourself in the Process

Developing a strong sales team is anything but a walk in the park. However, if done correctly, it will bring in millions per year for your company. Let’s walk through the process of #recruiting, #interviewing, #hiring, #training, and forecasting together. These 6 questions are meant to serve as a guide for you to evaluate your already existing #sales team, or to help you start building one from the ground up.

Question 1: How creative are your sales leaders?

Why does this matter? Ray Reed, our sales team consultant, says it this way:

“I put people into one of two categories: a CEO thinker or a COO thinker. The CEO is very creative, strong in leadership, and brings vision to the team. The COO is thinking about how to execute, pointing out potential holes in the plan, and bringing a different perspective. You need both types of thinkers.”

Every person on your #salesteam needs to have different levels of creativity so they can learn from each other and develop the best possible sales model. The following test is a great resource we use to evaluate our own leader’s creativity levels. We highly suggest taking it for yourself and your sales team.

Question 2: Is your recruiting criteria focused on traits or specific experience?

“Some of the best federal sales people I’ve hired were recruited from the private sector/commercial team.” - Ray Reed

Sometimes, you need to go out of your comfort zone in recruiting salespeople. Being too limited or picky about #federal experience can prevent you from bringing on some extremely talented #salespeople. Instead of trying to look for “good” people who were successful at selling, look for candidates who have good traits to be successful at selling.

Some traits to look for are:

  • Good questioning skills

  • High energy

  • Executive presence

  • Sales acumen

  • A drive to learn and succeed

Question 3: Does your interview process include a “role play” panel?

The interview process serves as an evaluation to see how much work it will take to make the candidate a “rockstar”, so treat your #candidate like a project. Really focus on their questioning skills. Are they curious and willing to ask questions? Do they listen more than they talk? Can they ask the right questions?

Also ask yourself if your hiring #leader really likes this person. If the they doesn’t like the candidate enough to spend quality time with them, then don’t hire them.

And finally, ROLE PLAY! This is an essential part of the interview to see how the candidate will act in a specific situation. This portion is designed to assess the candidate's questioning skills

Question 4: Is your sales training program out of date?

How many times have you turned on a mandatory online-training module and just muted it while completing your other tasks? Don’t lie, we’ve all done it....but that is a big mistake when it comes to your training program. An in-person, hands-on training program is essential to developing your sales team.

“The benefit of face-to-face training is higher retention, as well as networking ,which leads to collaboration once in the field. Virtual works if it is a short session, but nothing greater than 30 minutes, and only if it is a small update to an offering or simple tweak to a process. It is NOT sufficient to explain a new offering or major change to a process. The retention rate will be very low, shifting the training requirement to your leaders (who already have a full plate).” - Ray Reed.

Question 5: Do you have an accelerator program for #compensation?

It is no secret that compensation and #incentives are an essential part of developing your sales team, but a lot of sales leaders neglect to really invest in this part of the process.

As a #sales leader, there needs to be an accelerator program for your people, more specifically, a program with no ceiling for sales over the quota. This is so that your #employees can make as much as possible and have an incentive to exceed expectations.

Having a Total Income, a combination of salary and variable that is paid when your employee attains their quota benefits both the company and the individual.

Question 6: Are you celebrating your losses?

Yes, really! Celebrate your team's losses by finding the positive in every attempt. Harsh criticism is not a good motivator, so rather, celebrate their efforts and help them learn from what went wrong.

Team members should feel comfortable telling you, their leader, when they miss a shot. Knowing that you will help them course-correct will give them the necessary confidence to alert you as soon as a deal is going south. That quick action could make or break an opportunity, so don't minimize the importance of fostering a safe environment for your team.

With these 6 questions in mind, you have a great springboard from which to build or strengthen your sales team. If you are still struggling, we invite you to reach out to us via our contact forms or to contact Ray Reed, our rockstar Sales Leadership consultant for a free 30 minute consultation. You don't have to do this alone.

Written and edited by Sophie Zacaroli and Kelly Johnson, 2022 for Focusing Forward, Inc.

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