How to Hire, Coach, and Pay a Successful Agency Sales Team
Handing off the sales reigns to a non-founder is one of the most difficult challenges an agency owner will face. Not only is a hiring mistake catastrophically expensive, but it could also wreck the reputation that you’ve so diligently built. But, if you want to scale, figuring out your sales department cannot be put off.
Making the Hire
The first thing you should do before you go to market is to find a salesperson and make sure that you believe you deserve one. Many small and medium-sized business owners think that elite salespeople work only for giant corporations and their subsidiaries. In my experience coaching and training business owners and sales tells me that both often suffer from a scarcity mentality. Salespeople usually believe that there aren’t enough prospects who are interested in what they are selling. Business owners usually know that there are plenty of prospects to sell to, but instead, they believe that they can’t attract elite sales talent to their “little old” business. Start with giving up this self-limiting belief.
You’ll see me referencing “elite” salespeople frequently throughout this article because that’s the type of salesperson you’ll need. There is a market for mediocre salespeople. But your agency is not part of this market. Mediocre salespeople need easy to understand and demonstrable products to sell to be effective at all. They also need limited exposure to competition. And, as an agency owner, that is not your reality.
Hiring an elite salesperson comes down to writing an effective ad, assessing your candidates upfront for capabilities fit, and interviewing effectively.
Coaching, Training, and Development
Elite salespeople are dying to be developed. They are highly motivated, often intrinsically, and want to further master their profession. They love exposure to coaching, training, and concepts that help them sell more efficiently and effectively. Elite salespeople want to close more deals faster and are never satisfied. You will need to develop into a great sales coach, but sales coaching is not terribly intuitive. Enrolling outside help is typically best.
Pay & Compensation
Elite level salespeople deserve elite level income (think top 10% wages in your geographical market). However, don’t feel pressure to guarantee them much of that money! Decide that you will not pay a high base salary and be comfortable disqualifying candidates who demand it. Past earnings are not an accurate predictor of sales ability or potential with your business. Plus sales professionals who want higher amounts of guaranteed money tend to have less grit and more entitlement than those who do not. Structure your compensation plan to give them the opportunity to earn elite income, but do not guarantee this income. They must earn it! The golden rule when it comes to bonuses and commissions is that you must incentivize exactly the results that you want to see. If you want a high volume of new clients, incentivize volume. If you prefer a few clients and high margins, incentivize margin.
If you would like more information or have any questions about any of these suggestions, schedule a call with Rob Lime here.