We answered this question in LinkedIn today
I wish to take my web development business to the next level. Lead generation and sales is my current weakness. I think the right person(s) to help with sales could be the next step but I do not know how to go about this. Ideally, I could start with someone part-time and for commission only while business is developed. Are there proven steps I can use to bootstrap a sales force? (even if this means just one person to start?) Thanks in advance.
Great question and good on you for gearing up to get to the next level. I spent several years in the Web dev business and now build sales teams for a living.
Your strategy for building sales depends on your target customer – if you are selling large projects to large business accounts, you will need someone with experience doing larger deals which comes at a price, so you may have to be that person for the time being. If you are going after smaller clients/deals, you may be able to use younger less experienced sales people. In either case, paying commission only will reduce the pool of people that will be attracted to your position and you will experience more turnover in the sales position. To attract a reliable sales rep, you will have to prove the return they will get by taking the risk and working for you.
Another challenge that you face in the web business is that outside of selling packages, projects usually have a custom scope, which requires the sales rep to have a certain degree of domain knowledge and ability to sell solutions (even more so if they are selling to the marketing dept of a corporation). These attributes typically come with more experienced sales people.
When companies are small the customers usually want to speak to the owner and in the end, you are the most knowledgeable and motivated rep your company can hire in spite of your sales strengths or limitations. This makes it tough to support a rep and set them up to succeed.
Beyond the good suggestions above, another angle may be to hire a sales assistant to help you be a more effective sales person.
Hope these suggestions help.
All the best!
Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.
He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.
Latest posts by Eliot Burdett (see all)
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