What Should Founders Consider Before Hiring a Salesperson?

What Should Founders Consider Before Hiring a Salesperson?

Hiring a salesperson as quickly as possible is rarely the best solution for scaling revenue in a founder-led business. What should founders consider before hiring a salesperson? Adding a sales resource is a significant expense. Making a hire before your business is truly ready can be a costly mistake. Focused preparation and proper timing can make all the difference between a great investment and a waste of time and money. Let’s discuss six critical things founders should consider before hiring a salesperson.

Can You Commit Bandwidth for Coaching and Training?

Founders juggle many priorities and have very busy schedules. There are always important things that founders just can’t seem to get to. In fact, that may be one of the reasons why founders want to bring on a sales resource. Before hiring a salesperson, be sure you are willing and able to consistently allocate time to provide feedback, coaching, and training. 

Founders have already learned the best way to engage with and qualify their prospects. They also know how things get done within their organization. This vital information may not be obvious to a sales hire and must be explained. Founders should plan to make time to listen in on sales calls and presentations, give feedback, answer questions, and provide training. Make sure before hiring a salesperson that you have time to train them on the best way to pitch the value proposition of your products and services and how to overcome sales objections. 

It’s also important to consistently monitor and provide feedback on whether expected sales activity levels are being met. You should be prepared to hold your salesperson accountable and offer advice and guidance on ways to improve when needed. The founder’s most significant time investment is usually required during the first few months of employment.  But even after that time, you should still plan to have regular meetings and feedback sessions with your salesperson to make sure things continue to stay on track.

What Type of Salesperson is Best for Your Business

In addition to understanding the nature of previous sales success, it’s also important to match the type of salesperson to the current pain points and needs of the business. What kind of sales help will allow the founder to most effectively position the business to scale and grow? Before hiring a salesperson, understanding which kind of sales resource is right for your particular situation is critical for success. 

Develop a Realistic Budget Before Hiring a Salesperson

Adding a sales resource to your business requires funding to cover not only the recruiting costs and base compensation of the salesperson but all the additional expenses associated with the selling process. Be sure to work up a list of all the expected expenses well in advance of hiring a salesperson. Typical expenses include costs to attend networking events, meals and entertainment costs for prospective client meetings, and travel expenses. Other items to consider are office space, computer, telephone, and software expenses.

The cost of sales materials and marketing campaigns should also be factored in before hiring a salesperson. Do you have materials available on your website or in a ready-to-share format that a sales representative can provide to interested prospects during the sales process? Is the messaging around your brand, products, and services current and targeted to the audience you want to reach? What kind of marketing costs will be required to develop a targeted list of prospects for your salesperson to engage with? Planning and budgeting for these expenses upfront and getting materials in place ahead of time will help speed up the ROI once your salesperson joins the team.

Don't Forget the Ramp Up Period

Another expense to consider before hiring a salesperson is the cost of the ramp up period once your sales resource is hired. Rarely do salespeople walk in the door and immediately close business. New team members have to be trained and brought up to speed on your business, products and services, messaging, target audience, and internal workflows and processes. 

Don’t fall into the trap of expecting that within the first 90 days you will start to recoup the costs of your salesperson investment. No matter how experienced your sales hire is, it can take three, six, or even twelve months of investment before deals closed by the salesperson cover the overhead of adding them to the team.

Are There Clear Expectations About Activity Levels?

Before hiring a salesperson, it’s very important to think through and document your expectations for the role. What would their typical day look like? How much time should they allocate to the different aspects of the position? What are the expected working hours? To measure success, what criteria besides closed deals will you monitor and track that make sense for your business?

You should never assume that your sales hire will know exactly what to do to meet your revenue goals. Besides setting sales goals, it’s important to establish measurable expectations around the daily and weekly activities that will lead to sales success. There are many different activities required to create and maintain an active sales pipeline that leads to qualified prospects, successful sales presentations, closed deals, and happy customers for your business.

Don’t underestimate the importance of establishing and communicating expectations at a detailed level. Before hiring a salesperson you should be clear about the number of hours to be spent prospecting or networking each week and the number of outbound calls expected each day. Set targets for the number of meetings to be held with qualified prospects each week, the number of sales presentations expected, and the response times for follow-up on all messages or inquiries. Activity-based expectations like these are key building blocks that form a strong foundation for your salesperson to achieve success.

Do You Have Key Systems and Processes in Place?

One of the most critical systems to have in place before hiring a salesperson is a contact management or customer relationship management system (CRM).  A CRM system is a centralized record of all contacts between a prospect or customer and the people in your organization. Coordinating and documenting which prospects or clients your salesperson is assigned and putting simple workflows in place to update and record all contacts and selling activities throughout the sales cycle will give you easy visibility into the sales pipeline and the entire selling process. 

CRM systems do not have to be complicated or expensive, and some firms offer a free version that works very well for small businesses. Help make the most of your investment in a salesperson by setting up inexpensive but scalable systems that can grow with your business. Don’t make the mistake of relying on spreadsheets and emails to keep track of mission-critical selling activities across your business.

Before hiring a salesperson make sure you have template documents in place for contracts and statements of work. You should also have a clearly defined workflow for contract pricing, preparation, delivery, negotiation, and signing. Other documents to have ready are branded sales presentations, non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements, and formatted templates for routine communications.

Position Your Firm for Success

Hiring a salesperson is an exciting milestone in a founder-led business. Be sure that you don’t rush into hiring a salesperson without first making sure you are truly ready to make the most of this important investment.  

The journey from founder revenue to scalable revenue is one that founders don’t have to take alone. Whether you need to map out the next steps in your sales or marketing process, implement or enhance a CRM system (we are a HubSpot certified partner), or grow brand recognition and relationships within your target audience, the team at FounderScale is uniquely qualified to guide you all along the way.

FounderScale’s core focus is helping founders increase their impact in the communities where they live and work by successfully growing their businesses. Contact us today to learn more about how we can support your growth and success.


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