I own and operate my own business and it has finally grown to the point where I can afford to start hiring for sales related positions. However, before that, I have a few questions on what to look for. First, when is the right time to hire a salesperson? Like should I hire them now just because I’ve finally reached that point in revenue where I can afford it or should I wait for a certain time in my businesses growth? On that note, what does a VP of Sales do, what does a Sales Manager do (day to day) what is the difference? I need to understand the difference in each position to identify what I’m looking for. And lastly, how do I hire a salesperson the right way? As in what are some key characteristics I should be looking for? Thank you in advance for your advice!
I’ll try to address your questions about how to hire a salesperson and key characteristics… First you need to identify what you are willing to train a salesperson on and what you are NOT willing to train a salesperson on. You must hire someone that has the characteristics & skills you are not willing to train them on. The longer this list is, the harder it will be to find the right person and the more they will cost you.
Personally if I were hiring a salesperson the most important things I would be looking for are character/integrity, and hunger/drive/motivation. After that I’d decide on the right balance between sales & relationship building skills and the persons technical knowledge of the industry you’re in and products they are selling.
Are you more well suited to coach someone how to be a great salesperson or to teach them the product and industry knowledge they’ll need to be successful?
In summary, make a list of non-negotiable skills & characteristics the person needs and be willing to train them on the rest.
Hey @mattyboy! The difference between a VP of sales and a sales manager depends on the reporting structure. In a big company normally sales reps report to the sales manager and all the sales managers report to the VP of sales. While in a small company with just a few sales reps, they will usually report to one person which you can either name sales manager or VP of sales. Anyways, for your job description, I would recommend you to look for a sales manager and specify the number of sales reps they will be in charge of. Also, you shouldn't just hire because you have the budget, you need to hire for positions you actually need and that will create value to your business. So, before you start hiring I would advise you to review your company structure and determine whether developing a sales team is what you need right now.
I always gauged my business success off of how many people I could hire with the revenue I generated. If I increased my revenue, I could hire even more people. VP of sales is in charge of the bigger picture sales strategy, and they’re also responsible for supporting a capable sales manager that can effectively implement a sound sales strategy.
From a person who’s currently job hunting, I would suggest making the interview process as low stress as possible, so that you get the real personality out of the interviewee. Recently I’ve ghosted some interviews for companies whose interviews I heard were basically tests and quizzes of competency. I understand that these tests are necessary for figuring out if you can actually do the job you’re being hired for. However, if these tests are during the first round, and they don’t care about finding the right fit culture-wise and personality wise, than accepting a position there is a huge risk, and I’m just not willing to risk wasting my time at a company I don’t like. Job Hunting in Silicone Valley is a blessing for those seeking employment. With so many companies seeking out space here, we (the candidates) have many options for where we can work. This gives us more leverage to decide where we want to work, as opposed to what company wants us to work for them.
Maybe I can tell you a little bit about how to hire a salesperson the right way. Hiring salespeople is a really difficult task… I saw some studies saying that the average annual turnover for sales is 25-30%!
But from my experience, there are two key points that you should pay attention to when hiring to be more successful:
Know the tasks! Understand the relevant Sales tasks in your market and define criteria accordingly. A sales rep for a high-end grocery store chain like Whole Foods needs a different skill set than the one working for 7-Eleven. If you know the relevant sales tasks in your market, you can start hiring based on those tasks.
Another thing is that salespeople today need very different skills than 20 years ago. Hiring and training new salespeople is extremely expensive! This means that you have to make sure you hire people that are able to adapt (if you are planning long-term). For example, you could estimate a candidate’s ability to adapt by conducting behavioral research and interviews.
So, adaptability and a good fit are essential. Good luck with your search!