Are you about to hire a salesperson for your tech business? Great! It’s an important step for the further growth of your company. This step can turn out very well, but it can also have negative consequences if you don’t prepare your company properly.
Have you got a clear sales plan for your new salesperson? If not, it often leads to chaos, poor communication and missed targets… Then it’s all too easy to blame the brand-new salesperson, when in fact it was your preparation that left much to be desired.
The consequences? Your salesperson will have to do the preparations personally in the first months and won’t be able sell anything. So, before you hire a salesperson, ask yourself: is my company ready for it?
No idea where to start? Below, we tell you when it’s time to hire a salesperson and what you should pay attention to in order to get started quickly, efficiently and effectively!
When should you think about hiring a salesperson?
There are a number of scenarios in which it could be useful to hire a salesperson:
Your corporate network is ‘commercially exhausted’
Is your company’s managers’ or owners’ immediate network commercially exhausted? Is there no longer any potential to generate new business within this network? If so, an experienced salesperson can help expand your existing network or explore other networks.
All your turnover comes from existing customers (possibly few in number)
Is your entire turnover generated from existing customers? And are no new customers being added? Or is one large customer responsible for a large chunk of your income? Then you run a risk because of this dependency, but it’s also a useful opportunity to grow.
A good salesperson can both further increase the turnover generated by your existing customers and spot new potential customers to diversify your portfolio and increase your turnover. A win-win!
The person responsible for business development has no spare time
If your current customer contact person, often the business manager, has too little time or reaches their limits in their ability to attract and follow up leads, it’s a good idea to leave this to a sales expert.
By the way, this isn’t an all-or-nothing situation. If the business manager still wants to take the lead in sales, they can work where they add the most value. They can limit their activities to large customers, for example, or close deals.
A strong salesperson, who truly acts as the CEO’s right hand, can be incredibly valuable to the company. They can ensure that the entire company is more customer-centric and keep the sales machine running to guarantee business, even at difficult times.
Before you start… learn lessons from the past!
Just because you’re hiring your first or a new salesperson, doesn’t mean your business is starting from scratch. Be sure to first evaluate where you stand in terms of sales and the efforts that have been made to generate sales in the past.
Were these successful? Or disappointing? Why? Where is there room for change or improvement? This knowledge is crucial for the new salesperson. Lessons learned may well be your work points for the future.
Is my organisation ready for a salesperson? Ask yourself these 14 crucial questions!
Strategy, vision and responsibility
1. Do you have a clear mission and vision that a salesperson can believe in?
A salesperson always likes to keep ‘the bigger picture’ in mind. After all, salespeople will frequently have to repeat the same sales pitch and give the same demos to prospects or potential customers.
Making the same cold call or sending out the same sales mailing over and over again can quickly become monotonous. If salespeople also have to work without a clear vision or mission, there’s a chance that they will quickly become demotivated.
2. Have a sales strategy and/or growth processes already been set up?
The nature of a salesperson is to move forward. Ask yourself whether your strategy is currently focused on maintaining the status quo or growth.
Thoroughly review all of your sales and growth processes before hiring. If you don’t want to do this yourself or worry you might not have the expertise to do so, call in an expert to set this up.
It’s worth investing in one of these experts. The worst that can happen when your salesperson starts working is to lose an ideal potential customer because you didn’t act in the right way during qualification, follow-up, presentation or pricing.
3. Is there enough long-term vision?
Hiring a salesperson is the first step in an evolution, not an event in itself. Your salesperson therefore assumes that they will soon have other sales colleagues and/or be able to assume certain responsibilities. Prepare for this and ask yourself how your sales organisation will grow in the future.
4. What kind of salesperson are you looking for? What kind of salesperson do you need?
It’s often said that a good salesperson can sell everything, but nothing could be further from the truth in IT. [T1] Depending on the IT solutions you offer and your type of customer, you need one or more salespeople with specific characteristics and a relevant background.
Think carefully about WHAT values you’re looking for in a candidate. How do you want this person to come across to customers? In the first instance, you’ll have to look for such common ground in the candidates’ CVs.
5. What markets do you want to deploy this person in?
A salesperson who can work in a focused way is much more efficient, so don’t give them overly vague objectives such as: “Our customer? That could be anyone!”
Instead, really try to find a target to concentrate your efforts on. Think of a specific market and a concrete turnover target.
6. Where do the responsibilities of the commercial profile begin and end?
Sales? It’s a process, a funnel. It can usually be separated into an ‘opening’, ‘closing’ and ‘relationship management’. For some companies, closing is more important than relationship management, for others it’s the exact opposite. In any case, not every sales profile is equally strong in each area.
This means you have to map out your sales process carefully and check which parts of the sales process are crucially important to you. It makes it easier to clearly define those parts of the process you want your new salesperson to work on.
Is it someone good at opening doors, but not particularly good at maintaining relationships? Then it’s best to use this person specifically for introductions, for example.
7. What are the priorities? Or is the salesperson going to decide?
If you want to use a purely operational and therefore less strategically focused sales profile, you’ll also have to get all the relevant matters in your (sales) organisation to the required level.
This will allow the salesperson to immediately go for it and only focus on their core business.
If you need strategic feedback, input and direction, make this clear from the outset and search out a strategic salesperson rather than a purely operational one.
Funding, contract and wages
8. Is there enough funding for a salesperson? And the right appetite for risk?
If you want to hire a salesperson, there has to be enough funding at your company. Although this seems obvious, you really need to stop and think about this aspect. Above all, you have to avoid thinking that the sales expert you hire will generate profit from day one. Provide a buffer for this risk.
You also have to avoid saddling your salesperson with this pressure, as it makes selling a lot more difficult and forced. Set sufficient deadlines and realistic targets, but not just in terms of turnover generated. Think about all the KPIs that build a strong sales pipeline.
With these targets, you can quickly get an idea of how successful your salesperson will be and make any adjustments in good time. Give the necessary confidence, but also check from time to time. A strong salesman will have no problem telling you where they stand if they know they’ve taken the right steps to get your sales running.
9. How are you going to reward your salesperson? What about fixed components and commissions?
A salesperson is paid in a different, more performance-orientated way to the other employees at your company. Try not to compare too much with the wages of colleagues: it’s chalk and cheese.
It’s better to look at the going rates at competitors and adjust what you pay accordingly. Don’t do anything radical, as this will only complicate the hiring process. Make the right agreements right from the outset, then everyone knows exactly what’s expected.
Marketing and lead generation
10. Is your lead generation working well or does your salesperson have to organise it?
Is your marketing working well? If it is, it can be a massive help to your salesperson. With strong marketing, the right people get to know your company and become interested in your products and services. Strong marketing can generate a lot of sales leads and pre-qualify them.
These days, salespeople increasingly expect that certain actions have already been taken within your organisation to attract warm leads, so that they don’t have to start from scratch and have more insight into potential customers.
Be very transparent about this if you are hiring a sales expert. Don’t give the idea that all the leads are simply coming in smoothly if that isn’t the case. If you expect input and ‘lead generation’ actions from your salesperson, let them know right from the outset.
11. How about customer retention?
Attracting and convincing customers is one thing, permanently binding customers to your company is quite another. Even so, focusing on customer retention can often yield a lot with relatively less effort.
Be honest with your new salesperson about your ‘churn rate’. There’s a limit to how much you can invest in sales. If customers keep leaving for the same reasons, money comes in while money goes out. In an ideal scenario, you acquire lots of new customers while retaining many existing customers.
Monitoring and reporting
12. How are you going to get your salesperson up and running?
It doesn’t matter if your salesperson already has a lot of experience or not: don’t leave them to their own devices. The faster you get your salesperson up and running, the faster and better they can sell.
Reserve time for training and an onboarding period and possibly introduce the salesperson to existing customers immediately. Also, give them a glimpse into your company’s history. What’s going well? What isn’t? What could be improved?
13. What about administrative support?
It is a common cliché that salespeople are no good at administrative work. But is it true? We’re not going to take sides.
In any case, it’s worth checking whether the administrative part of the sales process, such as preparing quotations, can be handled by colleagues with skills in this area. That allows your salesperson to focus as much as possible on their core strength: selling.
14. Is there a monitoring system in place? Who will the salesperson report to?
Getting a salesperson off to a good start is vital, but monitoring them closely is just as important. Make sure there are enough opportunities for feedback and indicate a specific person for your salesperson to report to.
This should be someone who understands the sales craft, such as a sales manager or somebody with knowledge of sales who takes on this role part-time. If you get your salesperson to report to a technical person, this will undoubtedly cause problems.
It’s also important to make sure that your salespeople feel good in your organisation, as the competition is fierce and always lurking just around the corner!
Do you need some help to get your sales to the right level?
Do you want to expand your tech company, but is your sales not on point? Are you unable to answer all of the above questions? Headlight will gladly help you with sales advice and staffing tailor-made to your needs.
We take a snapshot of your business, set clear goals, then examine the strategy, processes, tools and profiles you need to achieve your goals.
Getting a clear picture of your sales organisation is a crucial first step in hiring strong sales profiles. If you’d like to know more, don’t hesitate to contact Headlight by e-mailing email@example.com or calling +32 472 876 112.