The first sales hire may slow you down at first but get it right & adhere to these 4 strategic tips and you’ll set your business up for profitable growth.
A question that all growing businesses must answer is:
When is the right time to expand my sales operation, who would be the best fit and where do I find them?
If cash flow is inconsistent and you’re worried about the time and effort it will take to go through the recruitment process before getting a new recruit up to speed, it’s a valid question.
Growing your team demands resource as they bed in and worst case scenario, they may not be right after all and cost you a tonne.
So, let me share with you what we’ve learned and encourage you to bite the bullet and invest in sales resource to grow your business.
The tried and tested model we use is simple:
- Always recruit earlier than you originally planned
- Recruit when you are losing opportunities
- Recruit when you have the cash flow to cover the ramp up
- Wherever possible when you spot talent, recruit them, don’t just wait for an ‘event’ before initiating a search
1. Always recruit earlier than you originally planned
By the time you attract and select the right candidates, you will always look back and think, “I wish I’d started this process sooner”, so map out now the team you expect to need in 1 year, 3 years and 5 years time, and start building your ‘Dream Team’ pipeline. I keep a little black book of ‘sparkly’ people I meet that I have on my radar long before I need them.
When you do go to market for new blood, always recruit multiple candidates at once. You may only offer the role to one (or two) but keep a second or third in reserve. Tell them that the role they originally applied for is no longer available, but that you’d like to keep in touch and, accepting that they may continue to look elsewhere in the market, if another position opens up in the near future you’ll be back in touch.
That way, if your new employee doesn’t look like they’ll make the grade, you’ll easily be able to backfill the position, all from the same recruitment cost. If, on the other hand, they do work out and pass their probation period, you may find in 12 weeks time you are able to open up another position to your reserve candidate.
2. Recruit when you are losing opportunities
Are you falling over opportunities that are not being well managed due to lack of resource? If so then it’s a no-brainer, expand now!
The fear here is often questioning whether this is a short-term increase in need or a long-term trend. The fact is you’ll never know, but you’ll definitely miss out on capitalising on your market opportunity if you don’t have the resource to service it.
3. Recruit when you have the cash flow to cover the ramp up
What does it cost to recruit – really? Well, of course, there is the agency and advertising cost if you’ve gone down that route, but if there are more cost-effective ways to go to market, especially if you are bootstrapped, consider them.
The two figures you’ll need to build into your cash flow are;
(i) The initial salary cost and expenses whilst the new employee is on probation. Is that 13 weeks? If so, what does that cost equate to and can you cover it?
(ii) Secondly, depending on your sector and sales process, how long does it realistically take for new business to come out the bottom of your pipeline, which may be longer than your probation period? Are you prepared to cover their cost for a further three or so months if they have yet to produce a profit?
Clearly, understand these two risks and then you can plan and mitigate against them.
4. Finders Keepers
Finally, wherever possible when you spot talent, recruit them, don’t just wait for an ‘event’ before initiating a search.
Ultimately it is the people in your business that will solve every problem that may arise, so the earlier you build an exceptional team (cash flow allowing) the faster you will grow.