A solid sales pipeline is a key component for any successful business. Of course, one of the key objectives for a new business or startup is to build that pipeline and fill it with leads. In most cases, that means you'll need to hire a new sales rep — mainly because you won't be able to handle all the sales duties on your own!
Still, you may wonder: "Can I really afford to hire a new salesperson? How will I maintain my profitability with that added expense? Why should I bring another team member into the fold?" Let's discuss the answers to these questions in the information below.
Why Some Hesitate to Hire a New Salesperson
The decision whether to hire a new sales rep often presents a challenge for small business owners and entrepreneurs. On the one hand, you absolutely need sales reps to bring in more revenue. On the other hand, you need revenue to pay your sales reps' wages. The whole thing has a hint of the "chicken or the egg" dilemma about it.
With that in mind, it's understandable why some business owners would hesitate to hire a salesperson to help grow their revenue stream. They may feel that, at the moment, they simply don't have the revenue stream to cover the expenses associated with a new hire: salary, insurance, training, equipment, etc.
Granted, it is important to have enough money in the bank to cover the cost of a new hire (between 6 months to a year's worth of salary is recommended). However, this is a key point to remember: At the start, building up your sales force is a balance sheet spend, not an income statement expense.
Simply put, it's important to think of a new hire as an investment that will yield returns several months in the future. If you have enough available cash to make the hire, then you should consider doing so right away. Watch this short clip from an interview I did on this topic with Don Myers, Master Chair at Vistage Worldwide.
How to Hire the Right Sales Rep
Even if you have plenty of overhead to work with, this is the million-dollar question: How Can you find the right sales rep for the position? Here are seven tips that can help:
1. Look for a candidate who will fit your culture.
This is especially important for small businesses and startups, since your culture may encompass only a handful of people at the moment. If you introduce a "disruptive force" into the equation early on, it could derail the efforts of your entire team.
True, credentials are important. However, you want someone who will not only "play nice with others," but also shares the same core values and sensibilities that your company has.
2. Determine their level of knowledge in your industry.
If the candidate already has a robust understanding of your industry, then there will be less of a learning curve for them as they adapt to your sales process. On the other hand, someone with zero experience in your industry will need that much more training. (Think of a sales rep who spent years in the automotive industry switching over to a marketing role for health and beauty products.)
It's important to note that a good candidate may not need a background in sales, specifically. For example, they may have experience in fields like business development or marketing. The main thing is that they understand your product, and can sell it in a way that makes sense to them.
3. Find someone who's willing to work hard.
This goes without saying, but any sales position involves a lot of hard work, perseverance, and resilience. Even though working with a small business or startup often contains an element of excitement, you'll want a salesperson who's willing to get down in the trenches and deal with the "daily grind" of reaching out to and qualifying prospects.
4. Look for a candidate who really enjoy sales.
Any decent sales rep needs to be a "self-starter" when it comes to making just one more call, sending just one more email, and reaching out to just one more prospect. Reps who aren't natural-born salespeople can do it, with effort (and some coaching). However, in the earlier stages of your venture you'll want someone who really loves the thrill of selling to others, and thrives as a communicator.
5. Discern the candidate's level of confidence.
Confidence is key to being a successful salesperson. After all, if you can't convey absolute belief in the benefits of your product, how can you persuade others to believe in it? In addition, sales reps have to wade through a lot of "no's" before they get to that "yes" they're looking for. A top-performing sales rep will maintain their self-confidence despite the number of rejections they have to face on a daily basis.
Bottom line? If you're serious about capturing more leads and growing your revenue stream, then you need someone with a healthy amount of confidence — in themselves, and in the product.
6. Seek out a candidate who's willing to learn and adapt.
Every new business will have its hiccups and growing pains. Your new salesperson will have to be adaptable, and willing to learn (and re-learn) their duties as the company grows and expands. It only makes sense that the ideal candidate would be ready and willing to roll with the punches, and keep moving forward.
7. Look for someone with a proven track record.
The sales industry is tough, and there's no guarantee of success on any given day. For that reason, you'll want to bring someone with a proven track record of success onboard — either in sales, marketing, or a related field. Success breeds success, and you want to surround yourself with salespeople who have what it takes to move the needle.
In summary, if you view your new sales hire as a necessary investment for future growth, and find the right person for the job, then you'll almost certainly start seeing good results within a year or less. At the end of the day, your sales performance will be better than ever, and you'll bring in more revenue than you did before. Who could ask for more?
If you'd like more insights on how you can improve your sales leadership, contact us. Or sign up for our newsletter for more valuable resources.