Saturday, February 19, 2011

How to Hire Your First Salesperson

Picture this! Your startup has grown and you are getting too much business to handle by yourself. How do you find a salesperson that will support your growing startup?
Note that your first salesperson will carry the huge burden of ensuring that the growth you have achieved does not decline and to make it work out you need to make sure you hire the right person to get it all going.
I have gathered three tips that you can use to get the right person;
1) Start where you shop. Look out for the good salespeople you encounter when you're the consumer. What is it they're doing that makes you feel good about working with them? Learning to recognize good salespeople is the most important first step. When you find someone who's especially good, compliment them. You might say, "You know, you have a really nice way with people." Salespeople love to be recognized. Then, try to open the door to conversation about whether or not they're happy at their current place of business. "I'm curious--are you reaching your goals with this company?" If they are, again, praise and congratulate them and thank them for their service. If they show any hesitation at all, offer your card. "My company is in a growth mode and we're looking for a strong salesperson. If you think you might be interested to know more, here's my card. It wouldn't be right for us to talk now, while you're working. Just contact me at your convenience." Then smile and walk away. This conversation shouldn't take any longer than it takes to complete a typical transaction in that store. Otherwise, you're being disrespectful to that merchant and unethical, and a good salesperson won't want to work with someone like that.
2) Word of mouth. The more typical ways of finding good salespeople revolve around word-of-mouth recommendations. Tell everyone you know that you're seeking a strong salesperson: Tell your clients. If they're fans of your product, one of them might even be interested in coming on board. Tell your suppliers. The people who call on your business are in sales and know many others. There could be someone good they know of who's just burned out on the product line they currently represent and need a change. This is an especially wise method for finding good help because your suppliers won't recommend a poor salesperson. Their reputation with you would be ruined and they might lose your business. Tell your banker. When your business succeeds, so does theirs.
3) Place ads. If you decide to place an ad in the newspaper, be very clear about the person you're seeking. Include the words "self starter" or "highly motivated." Let them know what your product is. It's a waste of time for you and them if you generalize. Your business might be selling cosmetics, and without mentioning that in your ad, you might have salespeople from the construction industry apply. This could lead to wasted efforts and time for both of you.
Hiring, as with any other aspect of business, requires thought and preparation. Be ready to ask the candidates questions that should give you the answers you're seeking. If you don't get the right answers, you don't have the right candidate.
Once you get the new salesperson give him/her all the assistance, praise, constructive criticism and information possible. They will appreciate the effort to help them succeed and pay you back with solid sales production.

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