For web design businesses looking to grow, hiring a salesperson is a natural first step. Unfortunately, many businesses make hiring decisions without adequately considering the kind of person they need and what is best for their business. Finding a proper balance between the two is key.
Luckily, uGurus can help you avoid some of the common pitfalls that many up-and-coming business owners experience.
Know Your Ideal Customer
Before you even think of hiring a salesperson, you need to ensure that you know your business inside and out. Most importantly, what does your ideal customer look like? If you can’t provide a concrete, detailed answer to this question you need to halt the hiring process immediately.
It’s asking a lot of a new hire to come in and begin finding perfect clients on day one. Instead, you’ll most likely get a buckshot approach where anyone and everyone is a potential target to them. This shouldn’t be surprising – unless they’ve worked in the same industry before then there is little chance that they will understand your business right off the bat. Of course, even if they have experience working in the same industry, every business prioritizes the traits of a potential customer differently.
The bottom line is that if you can’t define your ideal customer, you can’t expect your salesperson to know what to look for.
Don’t Try to Replicate the Wizard
Typically, as the business owner, you are the company’s wizard. What does that mean exactly? You started the business and therefore know more about it than anyone else. You’ve put a great amount of thought into the kinds of services your company offers and the value that they provide to a potential client. Chances are the unique perspective you have also makes you a great salesperson for your company.
Aside from knowing what makes your business attractive to a client, you probably also know a great deal of technical information about design, operations, project management, etc. Having a strong grasp on the minute details of these things is essential for you, but not so much for a salesperson. For instance, knowing the pixel width used for an iPhone media query is not a must-know to sell to a customer, but knowing why media queries might be important to a client without a mobile-optimized website is.
The main point here is not to try and replicate yourself when hiring a salesperson. Instead, teach them your company’s major selling points. A great way to achieve this is by hiring someone on as a sales assistant first. Let them set appointments, cold call, check in with customers or write proposals for you. Once they’ve been immersed in your business process long enough and know your product, go ahead and promote them to a full-fledged salesperson.
For companies just starting out, hiring a salesperson can be a very risky decision financially. Aside from simply learning the business, it takes time for a new hire to develop a pipeline of prospects and build relationships. During this time you will most likely be paying a base salary unless you hire someone on a commission only basis. Thus, it can take several months before you realize whether or not your new investment is working out. If things don’t work out, not only did you burn a lot of cash on their base salary, but you burned several months of your time.
A good rule of thumb to follow is that If you are a less than $250k/year operation, then either you or a business partner should be selling. You are closest to your service, your product, and the industry. Once you start to grow beyond the quarter-million range, then you might have the cash to take on the risk required.
Trying to hire salespeople when you are a young business that is barely making it is not only a mistake, but it can financially cripple your business. There are very few companies who can shoulder the burden of paying out someone’s salary for a year with no guarantee of any reward. If you only have money to hire a couple employees, then you are taking a big chance by making a salesperson one of them.
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