My thoughts on DIY Hiring for Sales People.

I think it is safe to say that most small and medium business owners rely on doing the sales hiring themselves. I get it. I’m not 100% sure that it is the best way, but I get it. This might be a way for you to take some of the risk out. *

Hire a rep in your industry with a book.
I call this the 50/50/25 plan. My experience is that at best, you will get 50% of the book they tell you they can bring. 50% will come to you and 50% will stay with the old company. And 50 % of the reps will make the transition to bring you 50% of the business they tell you they can bring. The other 50% won’t make it. If you decide to do this, create a comp plan with base comp on 50% of the 50% or 1/2 of the book they told you they could move or 25% of the total they stated. (sorry. you might have to read that again!). Have them earn the other 50% on business booked. The net risk to you is 25% of the stated book and if they surprise you they still get the comp and you get the business. I want skin in the game when I hear “I can move my book”. Two final notes. Make sure they don’t have a non-compete (while it might not be valid who needs the legal headache and cost) and if the rep has been jumping, buyer beware.

Promote from within.
The best way to do this is to set a sales development program in-house prior to the need and nurture this individual(s). Make sure they have a solid sales aptitude, have expressed a desire for promotion, wants to make a lot of money, builds relationships in the company quickly and well, and likes the business. This takes more time but you know what you got, they will be loyal and already have product knowledge and internal relationship that will support them.

Hire a Young Buck or Buckarina.
Finding an entry level sales type and plug into your team. I suggest you hire for aptitude, personality and cultural fit. A first job out of college is higher risk than the second. Learn a lot about Millennials. They are not like us or at least like an old guy like me! Generally you are looking for a “worker and learner” who:

  1. Had a job in and through college. A big plus if they put themselves though college.
  2. From a smaller mid-level College or University with a solid GPA.
  3. His or her family is middle class in mid-size cities and already has a work history.
  4. Tests high on a Sales Aptitude test.

How to take more of the Risk Out.
In addition to the ideas above, have a specific sales plan and strategy (hint. hint. this is what I do). Don’t do “Go Get’em Tiger” and hope they make it. Don’t have your best rep train them. He or she have a lot of bad habits, trust me. Have specific goals and performance metrics and coach, “lip load” them with content on your value proposition, scripts that work, how to handle objections, product descriptions and benefits and finally, work with them, encourage, role play and review their progress weekly . Provide small carrots for hitting achievable goals. Start them off on smaller account opportunities and let them fail a little. If they are a 2 or 3 from above they will do just fine. Sometimes really, really great.

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* I would like to qualify this post by saying that if you want to take most of the risk out of hiring, find a very reliable recruiter that provides a full service offering, including writing clear job descriptions, assessments, multiple posting sources, initial review and interviews, qualification and hiring guarantees. With this said most small and medium business owners rely on doing the hiring themselves. I get it. I’m not 100% sure that it is the best way, but I get it.