How to Hire a Salesperson When You’re Not Quite Sure What to Do
4 Tips to hire the right salesperson the first time —
I have been in sales and marketing most of my life, so maybe I can help you to hire a salesperson the right way:
Tip 1 – Decide which way you’re going to pay them
Salespeople can get paid in several ways: commission, salary, or a combination of both. In addition, some salespeople are paid a “draw,” which means that they get a certain amount up front that will be subtracted from their commission when they sell something.
To decide how and when to pay, answer these questions:
• Short or long sales cycle? People on commission need to be able to meet their bills, so they need money rather quickly. A sales cycle that takes more than several weeks will make waiting for a commission very difficult – in this case consider a “draw.” In franchise sales, for example, the sales cycle is often 3-4 months or more. A company needs to pay a salary or consider using outside independent brokers.
• Do you have leads for them? Be honest. Can you give them good leads or are they going to have to beat the bushes? If it’s tough to find clients or to make a sale, you’re going to have to pay them a salary to cover their expenses while they train and begin advertising to find leads.
• Will they need to build relationships with clients? Building relationships takes time that a commissioned salesperson may not be able to afford. Also, clients expect that the salesperson will still be there to work with them no matter when the deal closes, so you may need to consider a salary to establish stability for your customers.
• How hard is it to learn your sales process? (Or do you have a sales process at all?) If you haven’t been able to figure out a good process or you don’t have good training, you’re going to need a more experienced salesperson. And they’re going to need some support while they work out the process for you.
• Are you going to say NO to some of their sales? In some sales, like franchise sales, some candidates are not right for the business and should be turned down. If the salesman is on a commission alone, that’s a hard pill to swallow.
• Will they need to help with other tasks in your office? If you need them to be in the office to answer phones and cover for anyone else that keeps them from concentrating completely on sales and you’re going to need to pay a salary.
Obviously you’re going to need to decide how much to pay them, but unless you have an absolute number in mind and publicize it, you may wish to wait and decide later what you’re going to have to pay to get the right person.
Tip 2 – Decide on the characteristics of the “right salesperson” for your job
VERY IMPORTANT: define your ideal customer! (Get free demographic survey on the right of this article to figure out your ideal customer demographics.) Then you look for someone who relates to that group. If your clients are young and “with it,” an older salesperson may not be right, and vice versa. People buy from people they know and trust, so matching your salesperson to your clients makes sense.
I would look for these general qualities: energetic (in a normal way—not frantic), enthusiastic, listens and responds correctly in your discussions, likes people, intelligent enough to learn your product and processes and to speak to your clients, computer literate, gets along with you, gets along with other interviewers, too.
Tip 3 – Cast a wide net, but fish close to shore.
Use social media, signs in your front window, ads in newspapers, listings in Craig’s List, notes on bulletin boards, college placement offices, employee referrals – get it out there everywhere. Ask for a resume and a short video! After all, you need to see how a person can talk and relate to you.
You’re going to get a lot of replies, so sort through them carefully. Start by making a stack of all the resumes of people who seem to have the qualities and skills that you want, then re-sort them to select the ones that are geographically nearest to you or to your customers. (Time spent commuting is lost time.)
The videos are going to tell you a LOT. Short means 2 minutes or under, right? You want someone who is friendly, introduces themselves, and speaks a bit about your job and how they are uniquely qualified for it. No hard sells, no 15-minute harangues.
Tip 4 – Cleverly pick the right person
You’re going to want to interview at least five people because these are salespeople – if you are easily sold by the first one or two, you may find out later that you chose too soon.
At the end of each interview, discuss your feelings – is it a definite NO? If so, be honest and tell them.
Or is it, “I can see that you might be right for this job. I’ll be interviewing several other people for the position this week, and I’ll get back to you after that.” Then sit back and wait. Who goes through a process to sell you on hiring them? Do they question you about exactly what you want? Send an email thanking you for the interview? Contact you to keep the relationship going?
OR, do they talk you to death, repeating their qualifications (instead of making sure they have asked you about the qualifications needed for the job and then matching themselves to them).
The person you want is a friend-builder, a person who likes people and whom people like. You need to like the person because you’ll be working closely together. Age, appearance, gender, intelligence – get as close a match to your customers as you can because it will be faster for your new hire to establish relationships and trust.
Maybe this is my Tip 5: Most of all, if in doubt, just say NO. You’re going to spend a great deal of time training this person and getting them up to speed; you could waste months of their time and yours and some very good leads by picking a marginal person.
Thanks for reading — won’t you please share with a friend?
If you need to know The Most Incredible Sales Secret — the one that you and your salespeople should use every time, click here.