In the early stages of most businesses, it’s the founder who’s doing the heavy lifting in terms of sales. They’re typically the person with the best product knowledge initially, and have the drive and passion to really seal the deal in those crucial early months. There comes a stage, however, where you’ll naturally be looking to offload much of this responsibility, and actually hire for the position so you can turn your attention to other areas of the business.
Hiring of first salesperson can be tricky across the board, but getting that first sales person on board is a particularly crucial job to get right. In this piece, we’ll help you knock it out of the park first time around by stepping through three points to carefully consider along the way.
- Start With Structure
Before you so much as schedule an interview, make sure that you’ve got documented systems in place for how you’re currently handling the sales cycle. You may well be expecting your initial hire to radically improve these, but it’s unreasonable to expect them to start from absolute scratch.
Spend the extra time to make sure that you’ve clearly outlined how you’re currently handling lead generation, qualification, and closing. You also want to be certain that you’ve got clearly defined goals in place for each stage, and historical figures to compare them against. With all of that prepared, your potential new hire has the best chance possible of hitting the ground running, rather than floundering around for the first few months trying to find their feet.
- Consider Your Stage Carefully
Good sales people don’t come cheap so any mistakes you make in hiring them can be expensive ones. You need to very carefully consider where you’re truly at as a business before looking for the right candidate. Depending on your current revenue and scale, you may be looking simply for some extra support for your own efforts, or for a fully-fledged sales manager who can quickly scale out a team. Needless to say, these are radically different roles – sit down and really map out your 1-3 year expectations of the candidate before you begin searching.
- Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket
Circumstances may well force you to only hire one initial candidate, but in a perfect world you should be looking to hire two straight out of the gate. The rationale here is straight-forward – with a single employee, it’s very difficult to ascertain what’s going well and badly unless you have extensive previous sales experience yourself. With two active employees to compare, things get crystal clear a lot quicker.
Hiring of first salesperson is one of the most crucial stages you’ll ever go through as a business owner, so it’s really worth taking as much time as you need to make sure you’re bringing the best possible candidates to the table. The three suggestions above are by no means the only ones to bear in mind, but they’ll go a long way towards getting you off to a highly productive and profitable start!