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Hiring Sales: Finding the Right Fit

by Jeff Gau on May 4

People at Marco often hear me say “Not much happens around here until we sell something.” As a growth company that uses direct sales as our primary method to drive revenue, it’s essential for us to attract and keep good people. One of the hardest hires we make is sales professionals. I think this is typical in most organizations that rely on professional sales as their key go-to-market strategy.

Sales.jpgWe look for individuals who are comfortable with variable compensation and willing to quit a good job they already have to come work for Marco. These people are typically highly compensated and have non-competes in place that prohibit them from calling on their existing customer base.

When hiring sales people, organizations first need to identify what type of person they are looking for – and set realistic expectations. There are three key types of sales professionals. We’ve hired them all – for different reasons:

  • Entry-level new to sales.
    These sales professionals are right out of school and typically have never sold anything. You have an opportunity to develop them to your culture and style. Some of the best sales people in our company learned how to sell at Marco. Organizations can provide lower compensation at this level with plans to develop the individual. It typically takes about 3-5 years for a beginner sales rep to effectively contribute. The investment at this level is time and patience – and dollars.

  • Mid-level with more potential.
    These sales professionals typically have 3-5 years of experience, understand the customer equation and have developed the discipline needed to excel in sales. It’s common to pay between $75,000 and $200,000 at this level, depending on the individual’s track record. Non-competes can come into play and the best hires at this level typically require a salary guarantee similar to what they were making at their previous company. The investment at this time is dollars – it’s common for even a top performer at this level to take 12-24 months to be successful in a new organization. 
  • High-end leader ready to perform.
    At this level, sales professionals have a track record of performing for at least 5-7 years. They almost always come with a non-compete and pay can range between $150,000 and $300,000. We’d like to think they can jump in and perform immediately. Sometimes that’s the case, but 12 months is more realistic. Most professionals at this level will not leave their current position without some serious convincing, a defined career path and, of course, financial commitments.

I often find that organizations seek a high-end professional, but only want to pay at the mid-level or beginner level. This equation never works out. It takes money and commitment to get a good hire in sales.

There is a direct correlation between earnings and performance in sales. You need to be willing to invest, but you don’t have to overpay. We routinely ask for W2s to validate their track record. This is a good practice, especially when hiring experienced sales professionals.

Hiring the right person requires the right person to do the hiring. What I mean by that is, not everyone can hire good sales people. It’s important to recognize who on your team has the skill to recruit and find the right fit. This is who should be responsible for hiring your sales staff.

The lifeblood of most organizations is sales, and your success will depend on who you hire.

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Topics: Recruiting, Sales, Hiring

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