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How to hire your first sales person?

I have a product that is live and gets 50-70 trial signups and around 1-2 sales a week. Its a small fledgling product.

I want to focus on the development and hire someone to take care of the marketing and sales side.

I was thinking of hiring someone from the Philippines to help with that.

I have zero expereince hiring a sales person, how and where do I start?

Anyone can share a story or advice to get me on the right foot?



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7 replies on “How to hire your first sales person?”

That’s a great number of trials, but not a great conversion rate. Why is that percentage so low? Could a salesperson call those trials and convert them, or are they trailing and not liking the product. My concern would be the low conversion rate if I was selling that service.

There’s a lot of different variations of sales people, similar to different type programmers. What type of product are you trying to sell, what type of market, what type of margins?

What exactly do you want this person to be doing for you? Would they be generating leads, advertising the product, marketing on social media, or other tasks?

First thing I’m wondering is how much do you have in revenue right now and is this subscription, license, or lump sum? You don’t have to say, but from the looks of it, it might be too early to hire a sales person.

Is your book of business too large that you can’t reach out to understand why your conversion is 0-3%? The trials make it sound like you’ve got a way to get their attention but maybe the value proposition needs some work? Or if you’ve got that down, do you have email scrips set up to automatically send following trial enrollment to explain that value proposition?

Being frank, but hopefully not coming off as condescending – I think a lot of people hire sales individuals too soon. It’s not cheap to bring on sales, you get what you pay for and commission plans aren’t easy to formulate in a way that prevents gamesmanship and encourages the desired behavior. I wouldn’t hire sales until you have your conversion rate up; you need to be able to train them on how to sell the product so you’ll want a strategy that converts higher.

When you do hire…

1. Build their training and script, how do you want them to sell your product? Don’t look to a sales person to do this, they’ll tweak it and could help improve, but that’s not common.

2. What expectations do you have? Lay this out early because if they don’t perform you need to fire fast. It sounds awful, but there are plenty of HBR articles supporting why this is critical. Allow for a ramp up, but depending on the sales lag, maybe 3-6 months.

3. Build the incentive plan – if they can sell multiple per day, then you might say target is 25% base/hourly and 75% variable. If it takes a long time to sell, you might go more like 69/40 or 75/25 base/variable. Again use HBR or grab the book Compensating Your Sales Force (or something similar, can’t remember the exact title).

4. Hire, be ready to talk about all of the above in the interview. A true hunter will want to walk out of the interview with an idea of how much they can make if they sell a lot. That’s who you want.

Hope this helps, feel free to reach out if I could offer anything else!

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