6 Tips in Hiring Your First Salesperson

& Two Big Reasons Why You Need to Hire Two Sales Representatives in Day 1

Hiring your first salesperson always carry a certain degree of risk — especially when your company is still at its infancy.

Although you have a great product, you have a tight budget which makes hiring a dedicated team of sales representatives seem like a dream.

Not all sales reps are the same!

Luckily, there are some things you can do to attract the cream of the crop. Whether it’s your first salesperson or you’re just filling up a vacant sales position, these tips will surely work for you.

6 Tips in Hiring a Great Salesperson

1. Write a Job Description

Sounds too basic? You might be surprised if I tell you that many CEOs think that every sales role is the same!

Actually, they’re not. And according to Small Business Trends’ CEO Anita Campbell,

“That’s why you need to write out a job description when you hire your first sales representative. It makes the scope of the role clear for the candidate’s benefit. It also helps get others in the company on the same page. Don’t skip this step.”

When writing a job description, consider asking yourself this question:

(1) What role will my new salesperson play in my company?

(2) Is he going to generate some leads?

(3) Is he going to close a sale


(4) Is he going to do a post closing follow-up?

Keep in mind that not all sales reps are the same. Some people are good closers, some are great in finding leads while others are talented in outbound sales.

Making this distinction clear in your job description filters out the tare from the wheat and encourages those who have the matching skills to apply.

2. Plan Out The Compensation Range

A great sales coordinator is motivated by money. But I doubt he will be as excited when you think he can make $80,000 per year while he is expecting $160,000. Advises Campbell,

“Always make the compensation package based in large part on commissions so the sales role more or less pays for itself”.

So how will you do this? Below are my suggestions:

  • Estimate the number of weekly sales a highly motivated salesperson can make in a week. Why weekly? Because for me, it helps you gauge sales more realistically than on a monthly or annual basis. Done? This estimate can be your sales rep’s goal or quota.
  • Next step is to calculate the amount of money your salesperson can make based on the commission rate.
  • Factor in any base sales manager salary.

3. Decide on a Good Commission Rate

Commission rates vary per industry. So the best step is to start with a commission rate that’s common in yours.

It also depends on whether or not a sales rep gets a base salary. For instance, real estate agents earn as much as 6% commission with no base salary.

In tech, salespersons can earn between 3 to 10 percent plus a base pay.

If you’re not offering a sales manager salary, commissions could be from 20 to 25 percent.

Commission rates vary per industry

“Sweetening” the commission can motivate sales representatives to go beyond their quota.

For instance, you can say “Make up to $300,000, you get 4 percent and at $500,000, you get 8 percent. For sales over $500,000, you get 10 percent.”

4. Recruit in Right Places

Finding the right sales rep for your business can be tricky and challenging.

Remember that a great salesperson is a go-getter that’s comfortable in selling something in front of people.

A great place to start looking for talents is LinkedIn. Other career-focused sites like Dice or Monster are also worth checking out.

Diane Helbig of Seize This Day Coaching also recommends leveraging your network.

Getting a referral to someone can be one of the best ways to gain a salesperson.”

 5. Skills or Experience? Which is More Important?

While experts point out that experience is crucial to specialised industries with high learning curves, for other businesses, Helbig suggests that experience isn’t necessary.

If they are a good salesperson, they can learn [the industry] and the value of your product or service. If they are new to sales, consider providing sales training to set them up for success.”

If you are looking at skills, look for sales reps that can work autonomously and can build relationships quickly.

A great salesperson has a good network and can always expand on it.

6. Questions to Ask When Hiring a Salesperson

  • Questions that Probe on Past Results — know what sales they’ve closed, quotas they’ve met or exceeded. Basically what you want is to get an overall idea of the candidate’s competency.
  • Questions that Assess Character — you need to know whether the candidate is a leader or a follower. If you’ll ask me, I want my first sales rep to be a leader type who is willing to go the extra mile and grow with my business.
  • Questions to Assess Urgency — we’re talking about sales here so what we need is a person who can act fast. Keep in mind that sales die from the lack of momentum.

2 Big Reasons Why You Need to Hire Two Salespersons in Day 1

I know you have a very limited budget. But please, before you say I’m crazy, hear me out first.

Ok so you have a thriving business and you want to get the product or service out (make sales).

You decided to hire a sales representative and obviously, you want to learn as much as you can. Settling on one sales rep will not teach you anything.

You need at least 2 of them. Why?

Big Reason #1. If Salesperson 1 Does Poorly, You’ll Have No Idea Why

No sales? Chances are your sales rep will blame you, your crappy service, your subpar product, your company or your lack of branding — which may be all correct.

But if salesperson 1 is not really the right person for the job, how will you know?

Big Reason #2. If Salesperson 1 Does Well, You’ll Have No Idea Why

Lots of sales? Great! But how? Is it because you have a great product? Impressive marketing? Or is it because of your rep’s commendable phone skills? Are you really tapping into the right market? Or are you leaving a lot of potential customers behind?

With just one sales representative under your roof, you’ll never know.

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I know it’s quite expensive to hire salespersons in Day 1. But trust me, all the knowledge you’ll get from this experience will be worth it when its time for your company to grow.


Written By

Lenmark Anthony Baltazar

I have been living a life of HR for as long as I can remember. My experiences helped me realize that true happiness comes from being a blessing to the lives of others. I hope my skills and talents will be a blessing to you as well.