A Guide to Hiring the Right Type of Salesperson for What You're Selling

Just as a relief pitcher and a starter are different types doing the same job, sales pros come in endless variety.

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By George Deeb • Aug 15, 2014

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Hiring good salespeople is one of the hardest things a company has to do. Typically, companies need to go through three salespeople, in order to find one who is successful with long-term closing power. That takes a toll on early-stage companies. They can only afford small teams and can't afford mistakes that delay revenues down the road.

Knowing these categories of salespeople will point you in the right direction when hiring for your business.

Enterprise vs. SMB. Enterprise sales is typically a much longer sales cycle that needs someone who knows how to work numerous parties and divisions within an organization over time. With smaller businesses, you are typically closer to the decision makers and budgets at the top of the organization for a quicker sale with fewer people involved in the decision making.

Related: How to Hire Your First Salesperson

Early-stage vs. late-stage. Early-stage salespeople tend to need more leadership, passion and brand ambassador skills. Later stage sales people tend to work better within structured and repeatable processes.

Inbound vs. outbound. Inbound salespeople prefer limited travel and leads coming to them at the office. Outbound salespeople are road warriors who spend most of their time selling and schmoozing prospective buyers at the clients' offices.

Simple vs. consultative. Every good salesperson can sell a product that is simple and easy-to-understand. It is a really good salesperson who can put on a consultat's hat to help clients better understand a complex product and remove their fear of the unknown.

Competitive vs. non-competitive. Again, any good salesperson can succeed against limited market competition. Finding a good salesperson who wins business against entrenched competitors is much harder.

Big ticket vs. small ticket. The bigger the ticket, the longer and harder the sale process. Typically, more decision makers are involved in larger ticket purchases. Not all salespeople have the persistence and nurturing skills required to succeed in longer sales cycle products.

Related: Four Signs a Sales Pro Will Be a Good Hire (Hint: Think Money)

Hunters vs. recipients. Any good salesperson can close leads handed to them by the marketing department but not all salespeople have the "hunter mentality" to drum up leads, on their own, for persistent long-term success.

Doers vs. managers. Make sure your salesperson actually has demonstrated recent success in selling, as opposed to managing a team of salespeople. It is very different when you have to "dial for dollars" yourself to build your own Rolodex of relationships.

Lone wolves vs. team members. Very few virtual salespeople, working from their home offices, have the discipline to stay focused and put in the hard work required. Many salespeople prefer the team environment of working alongside their peers in the office. Don't put a square peg in a round hole.

Direct vs. reseller. Typically, you want to hire someone with past success selling one specific product or service, inside that company. Resellers, distributors or channel salespeople are often selling multiple brands, leveraging a broad portfolio of products. They may not succeed as well with just one specific product therein.

So, with ten categories above and two options in each category, that equates to over 1,024 specific types of salespersons (two to the 10th degree). Try to hire ones that check off the most skills needed for your specific business.

Be sure to read my companion piece, How to Screen Salesperson Candidates, for a list of key questions you need to ask during the interview process.

Related: Build a Stellar Sales Team

George Deeb

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

Managing Partner at Red Rocket Ventures

George Deeb is the managing partner at Red Rocket Ventures, a consulting firm helping early-stage businesses with their growth strategies, marketing and financing needs. He is the author of three books including 101 Startup Lessons -- An Entrepreneur's Handbook.

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