Sales Talent – Attracting and Keeping

One of the most difficult hires is selecting a successful sales person.  Typically it takes 6 months to realise if the person will work based on closed deals, after which you have invested a significant amount in training.  A bad choice is identified by dropping sales, which has a direct affect on profitability and firm value.

A great software sales person follows your firm’s process including tracking opportunities in your CRM, and they have consistent sales performance.  A poor sales person talks a big game, but won’t follow processes and hopes to sign an mega deal to keep their job alive.  Unfortunately really good sales people are hard to find.

Some things to look for is a candidate’s resume.  Have they sold products similar to yours?  If you sell $100K deals that close in 6 months, is the candidate used to selling million dollar deals that take years to close?  Is there a history of moving around a lot, possibly because of an inability to meet targets?

Your firm has some responsibilities to help your new sales person.  A good sales person sells and leverages the tools the firms provides.  This includes demand generation through marketing, collateral, awareness building, pre-sales resources (demos, videos) and sales processes that a good CRM can support with things like workflows.  If these are not in place at your firm, they should be the priority, unless the expectation is that the sales person will create these items, which will take away from their time to sell and drive revenue (this may raise the question if you are ready for a sales professional).

Finally, if the sales person you hire cannot or will not follow the firm’s processes, including tracking opportunity activity in your CRM, its a big sign of future problems and may be a reason to part ways.  Successful software sales is not magic or inherited.  Its smart people following processes and helping prospects solve their problems with your products.