Build a Stellar Sales Team Part 2
Adding salespeople can result in steadily increasing sales. This can free you up to spend time and energy on other tasks. Hiring salespeople could also hurt sales, erode profits, damage valuable customer relationships, and destroy your image in the marketplace. The difference between these two scenarios is the difference between hiring the right salespeople and the wrong ones.
Salespeople aren’t just the people responsible for building your bottom line. They’re also your front-line troops, the ones with the most daily contact with your customers. With those caveats in mind, it’s important to not only grow your sales force, but to grow it properly.
To start with, understand that there may not be any truly bad salespeople. There may just be good salespeople in the wrong positions. To hire the right salesperson for the job, you have to understand and be able to describe what the job is. That means clarifying whether this sales position is intended to immediately generate sales or perhaps develop contacts for a sales cycle that may stretch into months or years. Do you want someone who is a closer or one who takes more of a consultative approach? Matching your company’s sales needs and selling style to your new hires is the first step in getting good salespeople.
Few salespeople are motivated by altruism, and misunderstanding your company’s compensation package is one of the main reasons for sales staff dissatisfaction and turnover. For all potential new hires, explain precisely what the compensation plan is. In addition, clarify the territory, your performance expectations, any training you will offer, and any sales tools you will provide. You should also provide candidates with a thumbnail description of the market and the competition. Then you will know that you’ve explained the opportunity accurately to anyone who’s interested.
Don’t stop by describing your needs. Imagine the ideal salesperson for the job, including his or her personality, experience, energy level, reputation and abilities. You may not find someone exactly like that, but if you don’t know what you want, the odds of making a bad hiring decision are high.
Only now should you actually start looking for salespeople. But before dashing out a three-line ad and calling the classified department of your local newspaper, consider some other options:
- Look internally. You may have technical, support, operations or administrative people who would and could successfully move into sales. Post the ad on a bulletin board and see what happens.
- Ask for employee referrals. Chances are your existing employees know the kind of people who would be happy working for you. They may be able to suggest some people for you to contact.
- Network with suppliers, customers, colleagues, advisors and social contacts. This can be cheaper, faster and more reliable than advertising to the general public.
- Check with professional associations. They may have job lines to help members find employees.
- Try online advertising. The speed, freshness and searchability of online job banks make them attractive options for both candidates and employers.
- Check with your local college. You may be able to hire a recent graduate who’s enthusiastic, effective and less expensive than a seasoned professional.
- Contact headhunters. Headhunters specializing in sales personnel aren’t cheap, but when labor markets are tight, it may be worth the cost to find a solid salesperson.
Consider using temporary and staffing services. Temporary and staffing services can provide you with sales and marketing personnel on a temporary, temp-to-perm, or permanent direct-hire basis.