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How to Hire a Salesperson (A Collection of PRACTICAL Advice)

    Hiring a motivated, driven, likeable, and experienced salesperson who is the right fit is not an easy task. Follow the steps below to find the right salesperson for your business.

    1. WHERE to look for a salesperson

    2. WHAT to look for in a salesperson

    • “Instead of looking for sales experience, look for sales talent. Here are some of the key characteristics of successful startup hustlers:
      • A compassionate and competitive nature
      • Excellent communication skills
      • A high tolerance for rejection
      • Charisma and charm
      • Shamelessness

    The best place to find people with those traits? Your immediate network.”

    3. HOW to turn the salesperson you hired into a superstar

    There is a common misconception that the output of the hiring process is the identification of a great salesperson. It’s not. The output is a salesperson with the potential to be great in a specific sales role for the company. That potential is only recognized when a bridge program is put in place that connects the salesperson’s knowledge and skills with proficiency in the role.

    Most executives begin the sales onboarding development project by inviting a bunch of colleagues to a meeting where the discussion focuses on one question: “What are we going to include in the program?” In other words, they start the initiative by considering curriculum. The two issues with that approach are: 1) Curriculum can be added for an eternity; and 2)There’s no way to gauge if the program serves its purpose.

    The best place to start is at the finish line – by identifying expectations. Imagine you had a salesperson who is described as having successfully completed the onboarding program. What are those expectations?

    • What is she expected to KNOW (i.e., product knowledge)?
    • What should she be able to DO (i.e., conduct a sales call)?
    • What should she be able to USE (i.e., CRM)?”

    4. HOW much to pay them

    • “More than just about any other position, salespeople are incredibly talented when it comes to figuring out how to maximize their overall compensation. That’s a good thing…as long as their compensation program drives the behaviors and results which are good for your business. Compensation, especially variable compensation, should focus a salesperson’s efforts on selling business that represents a high return to an employer.
    • I remember inheriting a sales team that was compensated for total dollars sold without considering the relative profitability of what was sold. $1,000 of sales of 20% gross margin items was compensated the same as $1,000 of sales of 60% gross margin items. Thus a million dollar salesperson who delivered $600,000 in gross margin was paid the same as the a million dollar salesperson bringing in just $200,000 in gross margin. Not good! Key takeaway: review the comp plan to make certain it drives sales behaviors that produce good results for your company.”
    • Most companies compensate between 60% commission / 40% salary and 80% commission / 20% salary

    5. EXPECTATION from them and from you

    • “Just hiring someone and leaving them to it is a recipe for disaster. Unless you find someone who lives for selling then you are going to have to monitor his or her every move. There are 101 things to do that are easier than selling, such as checking email, planning the next sale, cleaning up the sales database, writing letters, designing promotional literature – the list goes on. Create a reporting structure (use customer relationship management (CRM) software) that allows you to see how many calls they have made weekly and what their closing rate is. Meet with them at least once a week and review their progress.”

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