Do It! Marketing Blog: Marketing for Smart People™

How to Hire a GREAT Salesperson

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Guest post by Chris DiFonzo

Sales Defined Simply

Simple definitions create profound clarity. I sell enterprise security software for a Fortune 50 company. My team's VP defines my job and his in two sentences:

"Remember: Your job is to post numbers. My job is to find people who post numbers."

The Indisputable, Unromantic Fact

If you're a Solopreneur, your number one job is to post numbers. Brainstorming does not feed the family, networking does not pay tuition, and blog fame doesn't pay bills. Money does these things. Whether you're a writer, speaker, executive coach, or circus talent recruiter, if you're making a living as a Solopreneur, you signed up to be a Salesperson.

Simple Outline for Sales Hiring

Now, eventually enterprise-oriented Solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, and startups are tempted to build a direct sales model involving finding other people to post numbers. This is a critical decision, not to taken lightly. If you've made the decision to hire and run sales talent in your organization, here's a simple approach:

  1. Find someone who can post numbers.
  2. Pay them well, people who post numbers are expensive, and high ROI.
  3. Provide a lot of upside. Number posters are upside pit bulls.
  4. Manage them once a week for 30 minutes max. Otherwise stay out of their way. Be responsive to the support they request.
  5. Give them everything they need to be successful. Take away all the excuses.
  6. Know your numbers, be clear on expectations, measure them only on numbers.
  7. Evaluate weekly, monthly, and quarterly. If program is working, continue. If not working, fire fast.

I often hear chatter about "other responsibilities," much of which are administrative or provide time saving for founders.


People who post numbers passionately hate admin tasks and generally suck at them.

If you talk about peripheral tasks and a candidate doesn't puke on you or at least roll her eyes, this is a red flag.

Other than post numbers, you only need them to do two things:

  1. Maintain their OWN pipeline in a spreadsheet or CRM tool (PipeDrive great for start ups).
  2. Submit accurate expense reports regularly.

Direct sales IS NOT marketing, lead gen, lead management, mailings, social media, managing the whole company's pipeline, or spending ime with founders and team members singing Cumbauya and playing dodgeball.

Direct sales IS engaging with prospects and customers, discovery meetings, qualifying business, proposing business, negotiating, closing, and posting numbers. Everything else is a distraction.

That's it. Go post numbers.

Chris DiFonzo is an occasional guest blogger who writes about sales and selling. He currently sells cyber security software for a Fortune 50 company and is a three-time entrepreneur.

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