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  • Hiring a Sales Manager

    I'm interested to see if/how any of you have gone about recruiting and hiring a sales manager for your products/services. As I mentioned in my intro, I am involved with a small company (~20 employees) which sells VPS (cloud) hosting services, dedicated servers, managed hosting services, etc. We're trying to move into some larger scale enterprise stuff, list buying, and potentially cold calling. As of this point all of our marketing efforts have been online (PPC, media buys, email, social, etc).

    We have a team of people who answer the phones primarily to provide tech support and some limited inbound sales questions. With that being said, we have nobody who has any experience cold calling or dealing with primarily sales related calls for larger clients.

    I'm currently looking into the feasibility in hiring an in-house sales manager whose primary responsibility will be to work with our marketing team to essentially flesh out a sales process and to develop a team (consisting first of only him/her) who will be calling the leads our marketing team generates and/or purchases. For a variety of reasons, this is not something we want to outsource.

    What qualities do you look for in your sales people?

    One of my largest concerns is technical aptitude. I'm sure a great sales person can sell most products/services. My worry is that our services are very technical in nature and as such, would require a pretty solid understanding of what we do. With that being said, my thought is that we should be able to train someone and teach them enough to be able to sell.

    How do you attract these employees? What type of compensation do you offer? Of course my first thought is to offer a base salary with commissions. With the types of services they will be selling, commissions should add up pretty quickly if they're closing deals.

    Any general advice in regards to the above from those who have found and hired talent in this area would be much appreciated!

  • #2
    That's a great question. I've hired sales people and the short answer is advertise for the position specifically and network/recruit those types of people and then hire someone who is already doing the job successfully. Those people often are not looking for a job, because they are successful where they are, so you might have to reach out to them. You can also find someone selling in a related technical field, which will likely be trained more easily (at least they will understand a technical sale). I would be concerned hiring a non-technical person for this role, unless you absolutely can't find one where you are located.

    I've always offered base salary plus commission and the base salary is just enough to make it worthwhile. I think they should be hungry (for money) and I also think that if they are not confident that they can generate sales, they are probably not the right person. To be fair, make sure they have high upside potential from commissions if they perform. As far as attracting them, advertising the opening is a good idea as is getting the word out in the community, referrals are a great way to find people. I've never used a headhunter but know others who have and they were happy with them. Probably worth contacting a few. They will also help you with some of the details including salary negotiations, etc.

    As far as qualities go, no BS, people see right through it so if you interview and they seem like they are telling you what you want to hear, move on. The obvious skill sets, Personally, I think "I don't know, but I will find out and get back to you" can be a sign of strength and confidence. Obviously they need to know a lot, but if they don't know something and try to BS their way through, that's not good. I think honesty, integrity and a cultural fit with your team is important. They also need to be aggressive. Passive or non-aggressive sales people usually don't sell as much as aggressive people.

    I suggest taking your time and interview as many candidates as possible (even if just by phone). You will learn so much from them that the more you interview, the better your final decision will be.

    I would also caution you that sometimes the best salesperson does not turn into the best sales manager, so if you hire a sales superstar, you might not want to tell them upfront that they will be the sales manager down the road, because it might not work out and it could cause a problem.

    I also suggest you make sure the person is a great fit culturally and have as many people in your company interview them as you are comfortable with, once you think you have found a match. Get others opinions (assuming you care, lol). There are some great tests available now, similar to the Myers-Briggs tests, for personality, etc that helps determine fit. I will circle back to this thread if no one else mentions them, I can find them for you. I know some others in the forum are growing and hiring as well so hopefully they will jump in.

    Good luck and congrats on the growth, that's awesome!
    Last edited by Eric; 03-23-2016, 08:13 PM.
    Ideas are everywhere, it's execution that's in short supply.

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    • #3
      I've hired many people before so that's not really the issue.

      I've never hired a sales guy so I'm not completely sure what to look for in a candidate or how to locate the talent. Most of my hires in the past have either been word of mouth, referral, craigslist & job boards. I imagine finding real sales talent may be a difficult task, especially talent with a technical background.

      I'll let you all know how it goes.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by MrWar View Post
        I'm interested to see if/how any of you have gone about recruiting and hiring a sales manager for your products/services. As I mentioned in my intro, I am involved with a small company (~20 employees) which sells VPS (cloud) hosting services, dedicated servers, managed hosting services, etc. We're trying to move into some larger scale enterprise stuff, list buying, and potentially cold calling. As of this point all of our marketing efforts have been online (PPC, media buys, email, social, etc).

        We have a team of people who answer the phones primarily to provide tech support and some limited inbound sales questions. With that being said, we have nobody who has any experience cold calling or dealing with primarily sales related calls for larger clients.

        I'm currently looking into the feasibility in hiring an in-house sales manager whose primary responsibility will be to work with our marketing team to essentially flesh out a sales process and to develop a team (consisting first of only him/her) who will be calling the leads our marketing team generates and/or purchases. For a variety of reasons, this is not something we want to outsource.

        What qualities do you look for in your sales people?

        One of my largest concerns is technical aptitude. I'm sure a great sales person can sell most products/services. My worry is that our services are very technical in nature and as such, would require a pretty solid understanding of what we do. With that being said, my thought is that we should be able to train someone and teach them enough to be able to sell.

        How do you attract these employees? What type of compensation do you offer? Of course my first thought is to offer a base salary with commissions. With the types of services they will be selling, commissions should add up pretty quickly if they're closing deals.

        Any general advice in regards to the above from those who have found and hired talent in this area would be much appreciated!

        MrWar,

        This is a topic near and dear to my heart. As I've worked with sales teams and sales people for the last 8 years. It can be very challenging.

        As I started to read through your post the first thing I noticed was you wanted to hire a sales manager.... This lead me to write this post...

        http://productsquad.com/forum/busine...-with-my-teams

        After you read that come back and you'll understand really what you need is a director level person. That would essentially be doing the job of the Director and the Sales manager. I only bring this up because if you go looking for a sales manager you're going ot most likely get someone that doesn't know how to build the systems your'e going to need to operate from and measure.

        As you think about hiring "sales people" you really need to consider are you the right person to hire them. I'd find the director level person and let them build the systems, hire and train them.

        The best sales people will be smart and figure out the gist of the tech stuff. But you can't make it too complicated. They need to have standard packages that they sell. They need to know the competitive set. They need to know the common objections and how to overcome them. That's a starting area.

        One thing you want to be careful of is as you begin to think about a sales team for a tech based company. There's typically Sales Reps and Sales Engineers. The Sales Reps make the dials, prospect, set meetings, etc. Then they'll usually bring in a Sales Engineer with them to prescribe the solution for the problem at hand. They'll then both leave and put together a proposal. That proposal will then be the responsibility of the sales rep to "close".

        Most of the time good sales engineers are problem solvers on the tech side. They're not usually strong prospectors and closers. If you're looking for someone that is a Sales Rep and a Sales Engineer just under stand your'e looking for a bit of a Unicorn.

        Let me know how else I can help.
        Jason Akatiff, CEO - A4D Performance | Follow Me on Twitter | Read my Blog
        >> A4D - CPA Network, 8 years in business, never missed a payment. Sign Up Here! | NEW Skype: live:jasona_33 <<<

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        • #5
          Just wanted to drop a quick adjacent value add here... Personality tests were mentioned above, and I've found (and basically every other person who has seen the good and bad of outbound sales has found) that if you have to look for one common trait, it's the hungriest outbound reps are the most successful.

          I've recently been doing our sales hiring / training internally and have been working on automating and systematizing the process as much as possible. I recently found https://salesdrive.info/ which is AWESOME. It's a sales aptitude test that measures for a handful of useful qualities, in particular "drive", and then states their aptitudes for "farming" (inbound/customer success) and "hunting" (get the f* money / outbound prospecting) roles.

          It's $200 a pop, and they'll give you your first one (or two) for free if you ask nicely.

          After today's breakfast with smaxor (haha thanks Jason) I've decided to hire my next 9 reps sooo.... we are using this in our recruiting process and I figure it may be useful for anyone scaling sales as well.

          PS Tell em Zeal from AMV sent you. :-)

          Comment


          • #6
            I appreciate the input everyone.

            My hiring process for this position begins this week. I really have no idea what to expect, so wish me luck!

            I'll check out that service, zealous.

            Comment


            • #7
              Just as an update to this, I found the following resources to be very helpful in my process.

              http://firstround.com/review/the-ana...iring-process/
              http://blog.capterra.com/what-commis...w-salesperson/

              I've been interviewing people and will likely be making my hires next week. I'll be sure to update this thread with what works and what doesn't.

              Comment


              • #8
                I recently bought a few copies of Predictable Revenue (https://www.amazon.com/Predictable-R.../dp/0984380213). The book has provided a lot of insight and I'll be using much of what I learned in it while I move forward with this.

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                • #9
                  Pretty sure MrWar is past this point, but for posterity, here is a good discussion on hiring sales from the Andreesen Horowitz Podcast - http://a16z.com/2016/04/08/sales-why-how-when/

                  Listened to it this morning and thought about this thread, it's worth listening to.
                  Ideas are everywhere, it's execution that's in short supply.

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