How do I hire Inside Sales people?

September 23, 2009

In my years of working with Venture Capital companies focused on expansion stage investments, one of the biggest challenges companies raising venture capital face is in the building of their Inside Sales Teams.

Many are just not prepared or experienced in managing, coaching and developing people or prepared for the investment (time) in the success of the team.

The first step is hiring the right person. The following are some suggestions to help with completing that goal.

  • Hire Commitment over Competence
    • If you have a good 90 day ramp up program you can invest in competence…you cannot however, coach commitment
  • Focus on Behaviors
    • Competitive?
    • Goal Oriented?
    • Career Driven?
    • Motivated in Industry?
  • Don’t be afraid to hire out of College
    • Experience is costly
    • Many experienced Inside Sales people have learned bad behaviors
    • Invest in your team’s development and it will work, if you can’t, it will not
    • Attrition will happen no matter what you do
    • Use metrics to know when to hire
    • You can hire low cost individuals to start by focusing highly on Proactive activities with a career path to deeper sales roles and more reactive selling activities
  • Set Culture in Motion from Date of Hire
    • Entry testing
    • Set expectations while interviewing, when making offer, and first date of orientation
    • Communicate investment in individuals competency development
  • Invest in Recruiting
    • Use the obvious
      • Paid online job boards
    • Partner with Local Colleges
      • Work with Career Departments
      • Internships
      • Co-op programs
      • Business school/professors to source the best talent
  • Prospect the interviewing candidate for more talent
    • If you are going to hire the person, ask for more names
  • Offer a referral incentive program
    • Sales people will generally recommend only talented individuals

Remember, no one is perfect and we will all make mistakes. But unless you are prepared and spend time sourcing on a regular basis, the best talent may be going to work for someone else!

SVP Marketing & Sales

<strong>Brian Zimmerman</strong> was a Partner at OpenView from 2006 until 2014. While at OpenView he worked with our portfolio executive teams to deliver the highest impact value-add consulting services, primarily focused on go-to-market strategies. Brian is currently the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at <a href="">5Nine Software</a>.