It’s lonely at the top. If you're burning out between running your company and closing sales, it might be time to make an epic sales hire. To keep yourself sane and your business on track, proceed carefully.
If you’re leading your business properly, many of your other key decisions already follow a process. You likely set an agenda for when you’ll launch new products or services every year. You might also have an agenda for when you plan to approach businesses about partnerships. But when it's time to make your first sales hire, you don't want to make a mistake.
As Ashley Dotterweich observes at heavybit.com, deciding when to make the first sales hire can be nerve wracking. For example, you should already be selling your product successfully. And it's good to have several existing customers. Why? Because your track record with prospects gives you great information about how the sales cycle works for your product and your industry. If you haven't made a few sales, you won't know how many months it takes to close a deal. And you won't have a handle on the typical objections that customers raise.
The Hiring Level
Many business owners and leaders believe their first hire should be a sales management level employee. They like the idea of filling out the c‑suite. That may not be the best strategy. At this point, you won't know if sales will increase quickly enough to bring on additional reps. And you don't want your new hire focused on future organizational design and empire building. What you need most is a person who understands your product and knows how to sell.
Epic Sales Hire
The most challenging issue is all about who to hire. Many founders make the classic mistake of putting a friend or family member in charge of sales. This tends to happen because the found may not have the financial resources to pay a steady salary. Try to avoid that practice.
If you wait until after you've closed a few deals before hiring your first rep, you have some credibility in the marketplace. Candidates who apply for your open position will see that there's demand for your product. That detail alone will improve the quality of the candidates you'll be dealing with.
The best way to avoid making a hiring mistake is to use a sales skills assessment. These assessments remove emotion and bias from your hiring process. And if a friend is pressuring you for a position at your firm, tell them that all new hires in sales must take the assessment you've selected.
You'll also want to ask candidates to take these assessments before you invite them in for an interview. A good assessment will show you how the individual will fit with the organization and the product you want them to sell. And you'll know before the interview whether they will need extra coaching on key activities like qualifying leads or asking discovery questions. You can customize your questions for your preferred candidates based on the results of your assessments and reduce your chances of making a mistake
Nothing is truly going to take away the sleepless nights you have while you struggle with making that epic sales hire. But using a sales skills assessment can help you find the right person for the job.