Your first sales hire – 4 tips before you start

A problem that many growing businesses face is how to know the right time to expand the sales operation and when you do, where to find the best fit for your business.

If cashflow is inconsistent and you’re worried about the time and effort it will take to go through the recruitment process and get them up to speed, it’s a vital question to ask the right person.

It will demand team resource as they bed in and worst case scenario, they may not be right after all and cost you a tonne.

So, let me share with you what we’ve learned and encourage you to bite the bullet and invest in sales resource to grow your business.

Your first sales hire – 4 tips before you start

The tried and tested model we use is simple:

  • Always recruit earlier than you originally planned
  • Recruit when you are losing opportunities
  • Recruit when you have the cash flow to cover the ramp up
  • Wherever possible when you spot talent, recruit them, don’t just wait for an ‘event’ before initiating a search

1. Always recruit earlier than you originally planned

By the time you get to market, attract and select the right candidates, you will always look back and think, “I wish I’d started this process sooner”.

Always recruit multiple candidates at once. You may only offer the role to one (or two) but keep a second or third in reserve. Tell them that the role they originally applied for is no longer available, but that you’d like to keep in touch and, accepting that they may continue to look elsewhere in the market, if another position opens up in the near future you’ll be back in touch.

That way, if your new employee doesn’t look like they’ll make the grade, you’ll easily be able to back fill the position, all from the same recruitment cost. If, on the other hand they do work out and pass their probation period, you may find in 12 weeks time you are able to open up another position to your reserve candidate.

2. Recruit when you are losing opportunities

Are you falling over opportunities that are not being well managed due to lack of resource? If so then it’s a no-brainer, expand now!

The fear here, is often questioning whether this is a short-term increase in need or a long-term trend. The fact is you’ll never know, but you’ll definitely miss out on capitalising on your market opportunity if you don’t have the resource to service it.

3. Recruit when you have the cashflow to cover the ramp up

What does it cost to recruit – really? Well of course there is the agency and advertising cost if you’ve gone down that route, but if there are more cost effective ways to go to market, especially if you are bootstrapped, consider them.

The two figures you’ll need to build into your cashflow are;

(i) The initial salary cost and expenses whilst the new employee is on probation. Is that 13 weeks? If so, what does that cost equate to and can you cover it?

(ii) Secondly, depending on your sector and sales process, how long realistically does it take for new business to come out the bottom of your pipeline, which may be longer than your probation period? Are you prepared to cover their cost for a further three or so months if they have yet to produce income?

Clearly understand these two risks and then you can, plan and mitigate against them.

4. Finders Keepers

Finally, wherever possible when you spot talent, recruit them, don’t just wait for an ‘event’ before initiating a search.

Ultimately it is the people in your business that will solve every problem that may arise, so the earlier you build an exceptional team (cash flow allowing) the faster you will grow.

Between us, Lara and I have recruited hundreds of sales executives and directors over the years, which as you might imagine, also means we’ve had a few nightmares along the way!

If you’d like to know more, we have the perfect event planned that you need to sign up for, where industry experts will join Lara and I to advise, caution and inspire you on this topic.

Click here to reserve tickets and find out more about Avoiding Recruitment Nightmares at our Business Blast event on 1st October, London.

This blog post originally appeared on our old website.