Step 1 – You are the first one
Most every startup has one big thing in common, their first salesperson is one of the owners.
Even if you don’t enjoy sales, you have to really get into the sales process for your business.
You need to understand:
1. What customers are your potential customers looking for
2. What opportunities are available in your market
3. What are typical objections you hear
4. What is the perception of your market / competition
You will also need these skills:
1. Basic sales and closing
2. Have a strong understanding of your customers and their needs
3. Being able to predict if a potential sale will close
4. You have a clear sales process: This is how you quote, this is how you collect payment, this is how you deliver, this is how to finalize a sale, etc.
This is the first step to hiring a salesperson. You need to know how to train the salesperson for your business. This doesn’t mean you have to be a master of negotiation and closing, but you do have to know your business and your market
Step 2 – Find your critical mass
Once you have a firm grasp on your market and are bringing in revenue on a regular basis, you need to start considering when is the time to hire a salesperson.
Is it a particular financial goal? – Having X $ in profits to invest in a salespersons salary
Is it a particular time goal? – Once I cannot run the business well at X many hours a week
Here are some litmus test questions to ask yourself and see if you are ready:
1. Do you have a solid pitch / demo for your products?
2. Is the owner/founder working over 60 hours a week?
3. Is your product worthy? (Would more than 1/2 your customers say they would be very disappointed if they couldn’t buy from you anymore?)
4. Can you afford a base salary to hire someone really good? ($2000-$3000 and pay them that without return for 90 days) – if you cannot we have some other thoughts later.
If the answer is yes… then you are ready.
Step 3 – Prepare
Here is a list of everything you must have before you hire someone:
– Sales orders and quoting documents / procedures
– Sales process – steps from initial quote to final delivery, in clear written order
– Client profile – who is your customer, how will they reach them
– leads or cold calls? – do they find all the business, or are you getting enough inbound calls/emails to justify only inbound sales
– Compensation plan – what % of the sale will they get as a commission? can range from 3-30% depending on how tough sales are to get and profit margins
– Quota – what number do they have to sell by what date? Min $1k in 30 days, Min 5 k in 60 days, Min $10k per month by 120 days
– Sales tools – business cards, brochures, sales quotes, CRM, samples
– pricing structure – this can go with comp plan… Min pricing (below this is no commission), Retail/Book pricing (what you wish every sale would go for)
Step 4 – Make the move
How are you going to find the right person?
The first step is to try to find someone you know or is highly recommended by a trusted person. You significantly increase your chances if you hire someone with experience that you know you can trust. Talk to business associates, friends, etc. Try to get a referral.
Even after you get referrals, you should still interview. So if you decide to post to a job board or get referrals or both, so the following:
Step 1: Resume review – Ask for a resume to see their history and profile
Step 2: Phone Screening – Set up a 5-10 minute phone call (if you don’t like them in 10 minutes… pass) – this is also a time to sell your company, get them excited to want to join.
Step 3: In person interview – Set a meeting. Get a feel for who they are, tell them about you, ask how they could be successful and why you should pick them
Step 4: Get references – Personal and Business…. and call them. This is your first salesperson you want to be 100%
Step 5: Background check – Find a company that does a paid background check and ask for their consent to do so. (these companies probably have something you can provide in writing)
Step 6: Make an offer – Be very clear about everything. Hours, pay, compensation, goals, time off, etc. Have them sign an offer letter.
You can also consider hiring a staffing firm to help do all of this for you. It won’t be cheap, but it might help.
After you hire a salesperson you should have 2 goals:
1. Get reports, data & info from them every day. Stay on them and see what their results are…. don’t forget about them!
2. Prepare for your second salesperson – Competition is huge in sales, it also gives you a back up (if you lose one, you have another). This will help you ramp up much faster
Good luck and get out there with your first salesperson!