How to start my sales team?
September 14, 2009 10:52 AM   Subscribe

Growing my business...what are my options for building a sales force?

All the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place for my new b2b lead generation business I am launching and while my new website isn't live yet, I've already received inquiries from people on forums and such which is getting me pumped.

Once the site is live in the next week or two I was planning on just banging the phones and dialing for dollars. However, I'm aware of the fact that I'm not a great sales person and that is the first part of my business I'm looking to have someone else handle.

I don't want to deal with the headaches of employing someone and can't afford to pay a full salary at this point so I've been looking into getting an independent contractor to do sales but I'm clueless as to how much to offer them and what sort of payment structure would be acceptable.

My initial thought was that while I'd love to have someone work on 100% commission for me, realistically that probably won't happen at this stage given how new the business is. Nobody wants to take a chance on an "unproven" business.

So my next thought was looking for people on Craigslist to do this at an hourly rate. I'm just not sure what acceptable pay would be for someone to just make phone calls all day for this sort of business. I'm thinking something like $10/hr plus 50% commission (where an average deal will probably be around $600-1000 net). Does that sound like a fair amount?

Anybody here able to share some thoughts on the above? Any experiences you've had with starting a company and getting that first sales person would be hugely appreciated!

Happy to provide any additional details. And for the love of god please don't take this as a job posting...I've encountered confusion in the past with people thinking I was making a job posting to AskMeFi when in reality I'm looking for ADVICE ON HOW TO FIND SOMEONE for this job and everything that entails.
posted by Elminster24 to Work & Money (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
However, I'm aware of the fact that I'm not a great sales person and that is the first part of my business I'm looking to have someone else handle.

Sales is a skill. You need to learn how to do it in order for this venture to be successful. Period.

So my next thought was looking for people on Craigslist to do this at an hourly rate.

If you can afford an hourly rate, good. However, I'm not sure if Craigslist is the best filter - you're going to spend a lot of time finding the right person. Besides, your pay is a little low, which means you're not going to attract particularly experienced sales staff.

You ought to fork out the money you had planned to spend on sales wages on some sort of sales training for yourself, and just handle your own sales.

You can learn the business, and invest some of your earnings from sales into hiring your sales associate, whom you can then train yourself.

Sales is probably the most important position in your company, and is usually handled by the CEO.

Of course, if you can offer an equity stake of some sort perhaps you can attract a business partner who is more naturally suited to sales.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:20 AM on September 14, 2009

Response by poster: KokuRyu, thanks for the thoughts. I know I'm going to need to handle sales at some level and will still be banging the phones as planned, but I know that there are people out there much MUCH better than me which is partly why I want to do this.

That said, you mentioned the pay is a little low. Can you elaborate? What would be acceptable pay for someone selling b2b lead-gen services primarily via telemarketing?
posted by Elminster24 at 11:37 AM on September 14, 2009

Hiring an inexperienced contractor to smile and dial is unlikely to yield satisfactory results. I certainly would not plan to build a company on cold call selling. It's a piece of the lead gen puzzle, but quite frankly it is an increasingly less important piece. Voice mail, caller ID, etc. all make it way too easy for people to avoid sales calls.

Without knowing anything about you or your new company, it's hard to offer specific ideas. But generally speaking, I think I'd be looking for somebody that already has the contacts you need, and then try to lure them to join you for an equity stake. This assumes that you have some background in what you are trying to do and have some contacts in the right places that might be a good business partner that brings not just the basic sales skills, but the existing relationships to quickly ramp up revenue. That person will be very difficult to lure if the only thing you are bringing to the relationship is the idea and a website.

I am in sales, and I have sold for more than a couple of start ups. Offering up that only as background - I'm not fishing for a job :) Good luck!
posted by COD at 1:18 PM on September 14, 2009

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