One of the big questions that I get asked by business owners when they want my help is; "Should hire someone to sell for me?" That is a reasonable question though not straight forward to answer because there are a lot of variables to think about when making such a big decision.
Growing a business from scratch is hard work, especially when you are working alone and are used to controlling everything. Time is often the biggest challenge you will have, and so whether, by design or accident, will or force, your business model will require you to hire a resource to help you start scaling your business up. There is absolutely a right time to hire someone but why and for what role specifically are areas that need careful consideration.
1. The costs. Hiring someone is quite an investment. You would have to invest a lot of time finding them, then a lot of timing training them to your product and then a lot of time helping them. All that adds to the cost of hiring them and then paying them and incentivising them then rewarding them. The average salesperson's salary in the Uk is around £22K in US $40K plus commissions and bonuses. Recruitment alone would probably cost you about 20-30% of that salary, and then you have to think about the loss of business while you train them up.
2. The Reason. Why do you really want someone else to sell for you?
If it’s because you think they will be better than you then think again. Nobody knows your product or strive better than you. Nobody will be more passionate about your product better than you. So, if you are struggling to sell it then you have to ask yourself is it the right product or service for the marketplace, or perhaps you don't really believe in it yourself.
If it’s because you don't have time to sell, then I would ask yourself what is taking up your time and can someone else do that part of the job better than you. For instance, if you are busy with admin, I would say it might make more sense to get an assistant for that role rather than a salesperson. If, however, you are the brand then yes you need to deliver and have someone else sell.
If it’s because you need to scale your business, then yes. So long as your cash flow has a steady history which shows that you can afford the investment, then I would go for it but remember it’s better to hire someone you can train and grow organically than to hire an expert who might find it hard to change to your brand.
3. Skills required
Communication - Listening is by far the most important but the least tested capability in sales recruitment. In all my years of sales training listening is the one common area that's salespeople need to improve. So, test this skill first before you get excited about a potential candidate.
Business acumen. The most basic form of commercial awareness is an acknowledgement and understanding of cash flow and the difference between margin and profit. Ask potential candidates these two questions, and their response will indicate their knowledge and hence the return on your investment into them.
Strategy and planning. It's great to have a hunter mentality, but if you need someone to sell as you do, then they have to know how to plan their sales activity effectively. It's tied to point 2 in that they must be able to question why they are spending time on any prospect or client. Map out sales objectives and be in control of the pipeline.
These are skills that you wittingly or unwittingly apply to your business because you have a passion for it to succeed. Remember a new hire has very little to lose, so put some careful thought into this decision.
Business owners who have negative first experiences will become shy of hiring to the detriment of their business potential. Don't be one of those people. Think carefully about why and who you want to work with you.