Susan Solovic, The Small Business Expert is an award-winning entrepreneur, an attorney, a New York Times best-selling author, a media personality and a highly sought after keynote speaker.

3 Tips for Building a Turbocharged Sales Team

3 Tips for Building a Turbocharged Sales Team

Several recent surveys are telling us small business hiring is on the way up. This is great news after a long period of retrenchment. It shows we’ve moved from guarding to growing the herd.

The SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard reflects this. Last year only 19 percent of small business owners said they would hire a salesperson. Now that figure is up to 28 percent. However, more important than being in the mood to hire is to employ the best modes of hiring.

We know small businesses, especially in their early years, have a high failure rate. The blame for that can often be placed squarely on the shoulders of the sales team. So, if you plan to hire a sales professional, go about it the right way. Don’t leave it to chance. Here are some tips:

1. Cast a wide and well constructed net. There are many places to discover a good sales professional and these include everything from the business next door, to industry publications, recruiters, and websites. If you are advertising, make sure your ad really expresses your requirements. Don’t just say something like, “Help Wanted: Outside sales.” Go into detail.

While hiring is heating up right now, if your business depends on top sales professionals, you should always have your eyes open. When you find great salespeople around town or with other companies in your industry, engage them and see if they are happy with their current situation. Give them a card and nurture the relationship.

There are general employment sites like Monster.com as well as specialty sites, such as SalesForceSearch and Time to Hire. Of course there are also traditional recruiters. But your best people may already be working for you. If you see the kind of drive and attitude that makes good salespeople in one of your current employees, why not give this person an opportunity to try sales? Also, ask your employees for referrals. Be sure to give any new sales hire sufficient support and training.

2. Talk to enough candidates. If you’re hiring a commission-only salesperson, it’s easy to get lazy about the selection process and anxious about putting someone in the field. It may seem you have little to lose. Actually, you have a lot to lose. Failing to take sufficient time in your search will result in mediocre sales at best and hurt your reputation, which will kill markets for you.

3. Consider a commission-based compensation pay structure. In most cases, having the salaries of your sales team based on commissions is a good idea. You just can’t get around the fact that humans are motivated by material gain, and when your sales professionals are bringing in big commissions, your business is growing its top line.

Be sure you know what kinds of commissions are being paid in your industry and also by other sales-orientated businesses in your area. Set your commission structure to make it competitive.

Throughout the first chapter in the history of many small businesses, the founder is the sales professional. If you’re in a position to hire a salesperson, it shows you’re ready to write a new chapter in your business. It’s an exciting time. Just make sure you do it right!


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