You can draw sales lessons from everywhere in life. The reason for this is that most of sales is about the interaction of human beings with each other – about the acts of persuasion and communication. I write constantly about how everyday life teaches me valuable lessons about how to become a better salesperson and sales manager. First, I wrote about Sales Lessons in a chick flick. Then I wrote about Sales Lessons from my 7 year old. Then, sales lessons from my 2 year old. I also wrote recently about sales lessons from my colorblind brother.
I gave my “Sales 101 for entrepreneurs” lecture to the entrepreneurs at DreamIT Ventures in Philadelphia last week. If you aren’t familiar with them, its a TechStars / Y-Combinator style incubator that helps launch great companies on a shoe-string. It does so by providing a great environment and access to top notch mentors and experienced VC’s and entrepreneurs. I was honored to be one of their speakers this year.
During my presentation, one of the entreprenuers asked me a great question: What should I look for when I’m hiring a sales candidate?
This morning I went to buy a cup of coffee. This coffee shop charged $1.95 for a cup of coffee – after tax it was $2.11 per cup. I watched as the line built up and built up while the cashiers made change for each person that tried to buy a simple cup of coffee. I even saw people walking away because the line was getting too long. I wondered why this shop didn’t change the price just to make the act of buying a cup of coffee that much easier. There is a LOT of margin in a $2 cup of coffee – and by simply lowing the price (even a penny) they could have made buying the coffee that much easier and I would argue, made more money in the long run.
In speaking to so many start-up entrepreneurs, I get the same question over and over again: what type of sales person should I be hiring?
This is a very interesting dilemma for start-up companies as they begin to build their sales plan, and as they try their best to get to profitability. You have a serious choice. Do you hire someone who is experienced in sales or do you hire a junior, super-energetic salesperson.
When dealing with large enterprises, its my opinion that a salesperson should never offer up a free trial. If the marketing department wants to deal with that and then pass off a qualified lead to you – great but the blanket free trial has no merit in sales – unless of course you are salesperson that doesn’t want to make money.
Now, this is not to say that you shouldn’t let large companies get their feet wet, but the idea is to get the commit upfront otherwise you will see the trial going much longer than you would like it to go.