Hiring a Salesperson: Lessons For Your First Hire(s)

By Josh Slone

hiring a salesperson

Hiring a Salesperson: Lessons For Your First Hire(s)

When your business grows to the point of hiring a salesperson, it’s exciting and stressful at the same time.

We recently hired three new reps and ended up firing one on the first day!

On one hand, a sales development rep (SDR) can increase accounts and shorten the buying cycle—all while you are freed up to focus on growth.

That said, you are also hiring a full-time employee.

You’re saying, “I’ll pay your living (at least in part)” to another human being. That’s deep and takes time, training, and resources to accomplish.

You obviously don’t want to hire someone that will stall/slow your growth (we would argue that a salesperson should be toward the top).

We’ve written on hiring your first sales role a couple of times. But even all the wealth of hiring knowledge in the world may not prepare you, or your new hire, for the variables that await you both in the first few months.

No, this post is not to depress you. It’s to prepare you.

Prepare you for the reality that, despite your best efforts, hiring a salesperson is tough business.

But it’s also to show you the common reasons why early reps depart and how you can extend that lifecycle and save yourself some heartache, time, and money.

Hiring a Salesperson: 7 Reasons Your First Won’t Work Out (and what to do about it)

Number One: Hired Too Fast (No Set Process)

It’s totally possible to hire someone quickly. A sales role can be filled within several days, but only if you have your process set up first.

When hiring a salesperson, too many small businesses hire for a new position with the mindset that you’ll cross bridges when you come to them. This attitude will likely leave more than one person falling off said proverbial bridge.

How to Avoid the Pitfall:

  • Have a Hiring Process: We have a brutal series of seven steps that we wrote about here. Feel free to use them for your first hire.
  • Bring in Help: Ask a colleague or the hire’s potential supervisor (not other employees) to help you out. Either in narrowing down candidates or helping you sort through the applicants.
  • Don’t Rush: You don’t want to sit on the fence too long, but don’t move forward until you’ve gone over all the foundational issues you’ll need from the person you’re hiring.

Number Two: Too Much Change

Even a well-thought-out process will still have holes. Holes that won’t be noticed until you start running leads down your salesperson’s pipeline.

These problems will require changes, and some of them won’t be appreciated by your hire.

hiring a salesperson

If you change up the sale process, they could begin to flounder. Changing the compensation plan can always ruffle feathers.

And if your product/service is young, new salespeople may not be able to gain a valid understanding fast enough.

How to Avoid the Pitfall: