Am I ready to hire a sales person?

In our peer mentoring group this morning there was a question from a fellow entrepreneur, “How do I hire a sales person?” and my response was, “Are you READY to hire a sales person?”.

I recommend one of two options if you’re in a similar situation.

(Option A) Hire a professional sales person who will define and improve your sales funnel processes for you.  >> This is for the entrepreneur who hasn’t necessarily been diligent about tracking and documenting his or her sales model to date.

— In Option A, you have the benefit of leaving the new team member with a great deal of responsibility, and they will have the skills and experience to adapt their personal sales style to the needs of your clients.  However, it might come at a high cost.  And as an entrepreneur I’m guessing that you can’t afford that right now.  In comes Option B, which requires more work for you but less financial resources to accomplish (hopefully) the same goal.

(Option B) Hire someone you can mold.  >> This is for the entrepreneur who has a good idea of the current process and what needs improving, and who also knows what type of personality would be ideal for the sales role.

— In Option B, the upfront cost (e.g. wage or salary) is less than Option A, but it requires more work from you.  In this option, you also need a good grasp on what makes your sales tick along.  Here are some key questions you should be able to answer: Who is your target market – are you selling to an old boys club, individual stay-at-home moms, or businesses in a crisis, for example?  Who is the decision maker you need to get in front of – are you advertising to online laggards, are you marketing to businesses in the real estate industry, do you need to get a meeting with a non-profit president, for example? What skills does someone need to be able to sell your product/service – do they need an adaptability in their personality like being frank when dealing with a bottom-line driven manager or being delicate when someone’s job is on the line, or do they just need an outgoing personality with thick skin for those cold calling days, for example?

My last point regarding Option B refers back to when I said “the upfront cost is less”. Keep in mind (HR 101, people!) that different employees will be motivated differently and I recommend asking them just what they want.  Most employers assume that it’s MORE MONEY… but when asked to rank the influences on their job, more often than not it’s factors such as flexibility, autonomy, options for advancement, organizational culture, and environment.  Just ask them – you might be surprised!  If they are motivated by money, give them commission and slap those golden handcuffs on the employee that you’ve taken the time to train, mold, and grow.


Happy selling!


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