When you first start a company, you have immediate priorities. If you don’t make building a sales team one of the first of those priorities, you won’t make it very far at all as they’ll be no revenue. When you first start up, how can you ensure you’re building a sales team that will truly fuel the company as it grows?
Nikolaus Kimla, CEO, Pipeliner Sales, Inc.
Unlike Any Other Personnel
In terms of personnel, building a sales team is the most difficult task you will undertake. As a comparison, earlier on I came from a technical background and had to bring programmers on board. In doing so, I would give them an exercise which they would complete and bring back the next day—and I could see their capabilities right in front of me. The code was right there, and it was either professionally done and would work, or it wasn’t.
The same is true for a number of other professions, such as graphic arts—their work is available for you to check out. You know who you’re hiring from the outset.
Far Greater Risk
This is not so with a salesperson. Even if they come with credentials and give you a great pitch, you’re not likely to see results for months, with training and ramping-up time.
This is an enormous risk. You’re paying this person this whole while, without knowing for sure if you’ll get any return on your investment. You’re also investing time that’s not being invested in another rep that might be a better seller or closer.
So given the risk, what kind of personality should you look for in a salesperson, right at the beginning?
Most salespeople, especially if they come out of a large corporate environment, are accustomed to a certain structure. A technical issue gets sent over to Tech Support. A customer service issue—such as incorrect or non-delivery—gets pushed over to Customer Service. Collections get sent over to Accounts Receivable. Much of the time Marketing is generating leads and providing them to the rep.
Then they come to work for you. You barely have a structure there, yet. They’re only willing to sell—not to have to address any of these other issues that come up with prospects and customers. They’re not willing to drum up their own leads.
In a startup, that is not the salesperson you want working for you, unless you yourself want to put in all kinds of extra hours per day handling these other functions—basically doing nothing but serving the salesperson.
You Need Entrepreneurs
So what kind of personality do you need? You need someone like yourself: an entrepreneur. Obviously they won’t be taking the same kind of risk you did—but they must be willing to do whatever it takes to satisfy customers from whatever capacity, just as you have had to do.
A fantastic example is with my own company. When I started Pipeliner in the US, there were only two of us: my new sales rep and myself (the programming team was in Europe). Hence that sales rep not only handled sales—which he did extremely well—he handled user training, onboarding, tech support, customer service and, for a time, even invoicing. There was no one else to do it, so in order to keep sales rolling, he had to.
This is an entrepreneur. They do whatever it takes to get the ship in the water and sailing along. And an entrepreneur type of personality is exactly what you need in your sales reps when you first launch. It’s the type of person for which I coined a new word: salespreneurs.
In my case, my company has now fully grown up, and sales reps don’t need to do anything but sell. But if my reps hadn’t had this attitude at the beginning, we never would have made it.
A Vital Tool: Pipeliner CRM
As you’re growing and your sales reps are having to do all of these extra functions, they certainly need to spend as little time as possible on data entry and administration with CRM. Pipeliner, with its totally visual, intuitive interfaces, makes it possible to rapidly manage and control opportunities, making sure all needed tasks are done and that no opportunities go off the rails or are lost.
So in the beginning, make sure you build a sales team of entrepreneurs—and that you have Pipeliner backing you up the whole while.
Find out how vital Pipeliner CRM is to your success! Download a free trial now.
Watch for the next in our series on Building a Sales Team.