I get asked all the time, “How can I hire a salesperson?”
My quick answer:
“It’s really hard.”
But it’s not impossible.
I see a lot of web designers try to hire salespeople too early. Or they try to find someone to do everything they do (which is the hardest type of person to find).
A lot of web companies will hire a salesperson before they’ve even defined who their customer is. Then they’ll tell their newly anointed employee to “go find business!”
This fails because the new hire probably barely understands your business as-is. If they think that anyone and everyone is your potential customer, then they will have a seriously hard time getting a single ideal customer. Sure, they might find a couple of buyers, but who knows what kind of awkward obligations they’ll get you into.
If you haven’t defined your Ideal Customer yet, don’t even think of hiring a salesperson.
Face it, you are the wizard that every customer wants to talk to. As the business-owner and entrepreneur, you know more than anyone in your company about your company. This usually makes you the best salesperson.
A lot of entrepreneurs try to replicate themselves. This is a fool’s errand. Someone doing sales should be really good at selling. You are probably good at a lot of things, technical, design, operations, projects, etc… But your salesperson only needs to know how to sell websites.
I suggest finding someone to help you as a sales assistant first to optimize your time while selling. This might look like an appointment setter or an admin who helps you cold call, check-in with customers, or write proposals for you. Once they know your business and how to sell your product, you can promote them to a full-fledged salesperson.
Trying to hire salespeople when you are a super-young business that is barely making it is not only be a mistake, but it can also take your entire business down. Typically you will find that less than 25% of salespeople hired end up working out. If you only have money to hire a single employee, then you are taking a big chance making a salesperson be the first one.
It will also take you several months before you realize whether or not they are working out. It can get really dicey if you realize someone isn’t working out after six months…not only did you burn a lot of cash on their base salary, but you burned six months of your time.
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.
Finding Good People Costs Money
I don’t hear of a lot of people that sell websites on straight commission. Experienced salespeople that are good enough to work on straight commission earn six figures plus. I have met a lot of web designers and there are few making the money required to hire one of these expert salespeople.
What you’ll find more common is the need to find someone that is a good fit for your company, wants to be in sales, and doesn’t have a whole lot of experience. You’ll need to focus a lot of time on training a qualified candidate. So expect to pay some kind of base salary so this person can stick around and afford to eat.
Any junior salesperson that says they’ll take straight commission probably won’t be able to stick around long enough to learn the ins-and-outs of web design sales.