When setting out to build a sales program/team, the first step is to define. Define your goals for your sales team, define where they will be working, who they will be targeting, what a successful team looks like, what you will pay them (ULTRA important!), and define your hiring plan. The more time you spend defining and planning, the better, and your salespeople will fall right into your plan.
Look for commission-only salespeople
I've seen 'em all. Base-only, commission plus base, commission-only, bonuses-only, and so on. There are many ways to pay a salesperson. Always, always, always set out and hire a commission-only sales rep. Why? Commission-only positions attract the best salespeople. You want a go-getter, a self-motivated fantastic salesman, and a base-only or base-commission attracts salesman that rely on the base for part of their pay. They use it as a crutch to not perform. Commission-onlies are comfortable with the high-risk high-reward game of commission. And that is what you want.
Once you have your commission-only rockstar salesman (which can likely be the hardest part of this whole thing), you must find ways to incentivize them beyond their commission structure, which, by the way, must be very, very attractive. You must pay a lot of commission (generally 20-45% of the contract value of each sale, depending on what you are selling) to get the better salespeople. On top of that, allow for and plan on adding incentives for performance and to increase performance. Oh, and don't do cash incentives. Make it actual items, trips, or giveaways. They work better than cash.
For example, set a weekly, monthly, and yearly incentive goal for your team. If you have multiple people, which you should, have incentives that target both individuals and those that target all people who reach a certain goal. You can define a weekly incentive to be movie tickets, monthly incentive to be an overnight stay in a great hotel, and a yearly incentive to be a paid cruise to the Bahamas.
Incentives boost performance and help salesman feel good about themselves reaching a goal. Of course they will get paid more for selling more, that's a given in a salesman's mind. But a gift on top of that rewards and motivates.
You must be willing to work with your salesmen, daily if needed.
Good salespeople are competitive by nature. You should seek after competitive people in your hiring process. Having multiple salespeople is almost always better because you can foster competition between them. You may think, I want my sales team to like each other and not compete. Big mistake. They will compete, spoken or unspoken, with each other anyway. You may as well encourage it and boost performance.
Have sales blitzes. For example, whoever sells more in the next 48 hours gets a $200 gift card to some great store. Rate and measure their sales numbers. Foster and cultivate competition and you will see performance improve.
One other terrific benefit of competition is it weeds out lesser salespeople, people who can't hack it. If someone buckles under the pressure of incentives and competition, then they should stick to a wage job. You need competitors selling for you. Competitors win.
You must be willing to train and work with your salesman, daily if needed. Train them on your prices, services, packages, etc until they become second-nature. Train them on how to approach potential customers. Train them to control their body-language. Train them to be confident. Training, by the way, is where most sales efforts stumble. This is because most people who want to start sales programs have never been through or apart of a good one themselves. In that case, feel free to contact me personally. Ive trained and organized sales teams nation-wide for almost 10 years. I could give you some pointers.