First Sales Hire Almost Kills My New Business

Salespeople are expensive, but in a services business, you sooner than later need some sales help. Sales is one of the earliest departments small businesses hire for. But a wrong sales hire can make or break your business: I speak from experience.

In 2006, my first consulting business got big enough that we needed to hire someone for sales. It was an exciting milestone.

My partner and I interviewed many people and ended up hiring someone top-notch with a great sales record. His pay especially for that time was astronomical, but we were willing to invest because we thought that was the right thing to do.

Fast-forward three months into hiring and he had not closed a single deal. Not even one. It was really bad. We had to let him go. As a new business owner, making that decision wasn’t easy either. But that mistake had cost us months of projected revenue and growth. Due to that, we were at the verge of closing .

What was the mistake we made?

Well, we equated a good sales record from a big corporation as a universally good thing. We failed to see that someone performing well at a big organization with lots of support may struggle at our bootstrapped startup. We had very little support in place for him and sadly, he wasn’t the kind of person who could fill in the need and operate proactively.

I don’t mean sadly as though having those skills is superior as much as I mean sadly for the mismatch we found ourselves in.

The lesson was: what skills are important is subject to what phase of the business you’re in. So you need to prioritize your hiring based on that.

In this week’s video, I share 10 lessons to take into account when hiring your first salesperson. These are lessons that I have learned the hard way and that can save your business hundreds of thousands of precious, early-stage dollars.

Feras Alhlou

Feras Alhlou

Feras has founded, grown, and sold businesses in Silicon Valley and abroad, scaling them from zero revenue to 7 and 8 figures. In 2019, he sold e-Nor, a digital marketing consulting company, to dentsu (a top-5 global media company). Feras has served as an advisor to 150+ other new startup businesses, and in his current venture, Start Up With Feras, he's on a mission to help entrepreneurs in the consulting and services space start and grow their businesses smarter and stronger.

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