Morris Kaplan
Smarter Writer

Morris Kaplan is a former finance and venture capitalist who writes for entrepreneurs and professional services firms

Morris Kaplan
Smarter Writer

Morris Kaplan is a former finance and venture capitalist who writes for entrepreneurs and professional services firms

Looking for new salespeople? It takes a good recruitment strategy to find a great sales pro.

illustration of business people

Plan to succeed

If you go into the recruitment process without a solid strategy in place, you’re immediately setting yourself up for a potentially expensive and disappointing result. It may be tempting to throw a new member of the sales team into the deep end of a 60-day contract to find out if they can swim, but wouldn’t you rather plan to succeed by hiring a proven closer with a long-term future? That way the time you invest in new staff training can be better focused on specific company products, work platforms and objectives, rather than worrying if the new recruit will be immediately up to the task.

Set reasonable expectations

It’s important to explain your expectations to new sales representatives, yet also remain flexible – particularly within the initial three- to six-month period, allowing the individual to get up to speed with products, pitch and procedures. Moreover, it’s prudent for a business owner to offer appropriate incentives for employees to perform the job to the best of their abilities. This means creating realistic sales quotas to begin with, extending targets over time ­– and in consultation with the employee – and providing staff rewards that reflect your high expectations.

Then there is the issue of small base salary plus a large commission, or acceptable salary and small commission, or commission only. When paid commission only, it is important to set targets because salespeople are competitive and want to know what they must do to succeed. In any case, it is a challenge finding good . sales people willing to work for commission only.

Good salespeople are highly skilled professionals with perseverance, money motivation, the ability to prospect for new business, and the ability to close deals.

- Morris Kaplan, Former Venture Capitalist

Establish a connection

It takes a while to establish relationships, most of which require at least one if not two or three face-to-face visits before you would even consider hiring a new salesperson and providing employee training. Some industries have lengthy sales cycles and many potential customers may have budget constraints in the current financial year. Unless someone comes with a book of business, it takes time to generate leads. For the right person, you should be prepared to stay patient.

Developing a sales culture requires investment. It is one thing to sell, but sales training for staff and handling inventory management etc is a marathon, not a sprint. 

Sales culture solutions

  1. You might consider training an existing account manager to be more proactive and to actually make sales appointments with prospects. If this works, consider hiring a sales manager to oversee and train the team.
  2. To develop a powerful sales strategy, perhaps engage a sales consultant. And if the consultant's advice is to embark on a sales initiative, then have the sales consultant train the account manager(s) in sales.

At the end of the day, month and year, hiring a sales pro takes time and effort. However, that upfront investment is more likely to be rewarded if you’re committed to a long-term partnership and prepared to offer quality incentives for staff to strive for success in your business. The best salespeople follow the companies and sales managers with the best reputations.

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