When is the right time to hire a salesperson?

There never seems to be the perfect time to hire a salesperson. Either you can’t afford it or you desperately need sales help at any cost.

The article below is excerpted from http://www.inc.com/matthew-bellows/four-reasons-not-to-hire-a-salesperson.html

4 Reasons NOT to hire a salesperson

1. Salespeople need something to sell.

An actual item, not a concept or a prototype. Most of the time, salespeople stink at product development. They do well at revenue development. Don’t think that a great salesperson will immediately round up customers for your idea, your beta, or your brand new offer.

2. Salespeople are expensive.

The better the salesperson, the more expensive she is. If the salesperson believes that your product isn’t ready to bring to her contacts, she will hold back. Yes, even though you are paying her a salary, she will hold out on you. Experienced salespeople are very protective of their contacts… even more than the memory of their high school sweetheart. For every day that your new sales guru believes thinks your product isn’t spectacular, she is costing you a fortune.

By the way, if you find a salesperson who offers to work for equity, ask her how many times she’s crushed her quota. Chances are that she never has crushed it. Don’t make this hire.

3. Salespeople are always over-optimistic.

When you hire a salesperson, he’ll go at the job like a pole-vaulter. He knows that he will clear the pole. When the reality of the job sets in, only the rare salesperson can sustain the energy up if he doesn’t get quick, positive feedback from potential customers. If there is a couple of weeks of less than optimal results, most good salespeople start thinking about other “poles” they could clear more easily.

4. Salespeople can be more risk-adverse than you think.

Call it the curse of the fat bonus. A salesperson who made $300,000 last year will be counting the days until she can make that again. There just aren’t that many money-really-doesn’t-mean much-to-me-it’s-the-work-that’s-important kind of salespeople.

So don’t hire a salesperson to figure out what your customers need or whether they will buy some future product that might have some certain set of features. That’s the job of the founding CEO. Yes, it’s your job, even if you are an engineer.

How do you know that you are ready to hire a salesperson? Consider these three things:

1. There’s enough opportunity.

It will vary by company, but $1 million is a good number to start. There should be another $1 million you can identify but don’t have boots on the ground to grab. If you can identify $1 million worth of prospects, it’s a great time to hire a salesperson.

2. Your product is awesome.

What does that mean to a salesperson? It means you have reference clients—paying customers who the salesperson can leverage. When she sees your customer list, you want her to think, “Oh man, if the founder can get these customers, I am going to KILL IT here.”

3. Your culture can handle an influx of sales energy.

If you have a tight, technical team, a new salesperson will change the atmosphere like a high-pressure system moving in. Get ready for a storm.

Hiring a salesperson too early is a great way to distract the team, flush money, and potentially bury the company. Hiring one too late means lost opportunity. Finding that “Goldilocks” moment isn’t easy, but better to side towards waiting too long than wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on “trying.”

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