Selling more of your product or service is the single surefire way to ensure the success of your small business. But how can you do that if you either a) don’t have time to commit to nurturing new sales or b) you have a fear of selling? This is a New Year and often small business owners struggle with sales, I want to put an end to this. Today kicks off a two part series on selling. Part 1: How to Hire a Salesperson, Part 2 will focus on sales technology.
If you decide it is time to hiring a salesperson, you want to set yourself up for success. First, make peace with the idea that selling is essential to your business process and know what you want in a salesperson. As my friend and National Sales Expert, Jill Konrath, always says, “You’ve got to know what you want to achieve in selling, otherwise your salesperson will have no guidance, and it’s a costly mistake.” So that this doesn’t happen to you, I want to lay out a few pointers for hiring your first salesperson.
Start by Getting Smart
Just like it’s a good idea to have a basic understanding of accounting even if you hire an accountant, you should also be comfortable with developing a sales process, if you want to hand it over to a professional. Spend time getting to know your customer. Get clear on your sales cycles. When do the budget’s renew for the year? What’s the best place to reach them with your marketing message?(i.e. email, phone or social media) Create a document outlining buyer personas, existing customers and target customers can help not only you get a handle on your sales process, but it can also guide your new salesperson.
Know What You’re Looking for
Before you begin the hunt, decide exactly what kind of sales assistance you need. Are you looking for a consultant who can spend a few hours selling your products or services each week, or someone to commit full-time to your organization? How will you pay them? Commission, salary, or combination? The better you define the role, your needs, and your compensation structure the more likely you are to attract quality talent.
Check with Your Network
I recently hired a saleswoman who was referred to me by someone who was an expert sales trainer in my professional network. Because our relationship started outside of my seeking to hire someone, I had a better understanding of her personality than if she had been trying to impress me in an interview. If you don’t know of anyone who might be a good fit in your sales role, ask your network. That includes online and offline contacts, as well as even friends or family. Explain what you’re looking for, and see if anyone can send you a good referral. My new salesperson is amazing, because who knew us both thought we would work well together, and we do. She’s killing the game in my business.
When you meet with a potential salesperson, be open and honest about your needs. I cannot stress how important it is to find the right fit for your business and goals, and you’ll find the right individual only if you share where your company is currently (even if it’s not doing so well) and where you want to take it. Then sit back and let him or her talk. You want to find someone who has confidence and ideas about how you can make more money. They should have experience doing that for past employers or clients, and if they’ve already got contacts in your industry, all the better.
You can conduct a trial run with your new salesperson if you’d like. Work together for 90 days to give them a chance to get to know how you run things and see if they can dig up a few new sales. If you like their work, extend the offer to a permanent one.
It’s hard to hire a great salesperson, but if get the right person on your team, you’ll be able to focus on growing your business even more rapidly.