Hiring the wrong salesperson can be incredibly costly. From spent salary to the opportunity cost of an unproductive salesperson to training expenditures, the costs add up quickly. It’s safe to say any hiring manager would rather bring on the right salesperson than the wrong one.

But how do you hire the best salesperson for your company? Every company has different needs and goals. You’ll be best served by spending time before you start the hiring process defining your ideal candidate.

Although hiring salespeople may not be something you enjoy, it’s a fact of life in retail and honestly…every other industry out there. But, we can stick with retail for a moment to keep the conversation on target. Here are some innovative ways to broaden your op­tions and be certain you hire the best person for the job.

What you should look for in a salesperson

When researching how to hire sales reps for a startup, you will most likely conclude that your ideal candidate should be:

  • A natural salesperson
  • A great communicator
  • Excited about working in a startup environment
  • Passionate about growing your business
  • Results-driven
  • Empathetic and customer-focused
  • Able to deal with rejection and endless amounts of “no” from prospects
  • Coachable and open to suggestions
  • A good fit for your company culture
  • Affordable!

Finding the right person

Before you hire, know exactly what you want to get. Think of it like grocery shopping: you’re more efficient buying from a list than browsing through the aisles. Don’t waste you or your team’s time “window shopping” candidates. Set up an Ideal Candidate Profile, and make sure you get buy-in from the rest of the team.

Questions to consider:

  • What qualities or capabilities are critical to success in this role?
  • What are nice-to-haves?
  • How will this person interact with others in the company?
  • How do you see this person evolving with your company’s growth?
  • How much experience do you want a candidate to have to come in, and how much could be learned on the job?
  • What personality type will mesh with the team?
  • Should this person have knowledge of your CRM system already, or do you have a training program in place to bring them up to speed?

Making the decision

Once you’ve completed all of the interviews and have checked the references of your best candidates, it’s time to make your selection. There are a number of factors that you should take into consideration.

Does the applicant:

  • Have the ability to do the job?
  • Have the potential to learn the skills and knowledge to do the job?
  • Fit in well with the rest of your employees and culture?
  • Have the willingness to be trained and held accountable for sales performance?
  • Have references that checked out?
  • Present him/herself well?
  • Have the capability to connect well with customers?
  • Have the willingness to play the game your way?

Have a repeatable sales process in place

For your sales reps to be able to hit the ground running, you should have a basic plan laid out from your own experiences with finding initial customers. This could include things such as:

  • The definition of your “ideal” customer
  • Where leads are coming from
  • Effective outreach channels
  • An outline of the roadmap from first customer contact through to a demo or sign-up
  • The average time and cost it takes to find a lead and move them through the milestones to becoming a customer
  • How to retain customers once they’ve signed up

While you don’t need all the answers, a basic strategy for your sales reps to implement and develop over time will be a great start for everyone, especially in a startup environment.