When you run a cash-strapped startup, you’re always looking for a bargain. It gets risky when you hire talent based on how little money they need to be paid. But hiring inexperienced salespeople can pay off in the long run if you know how to develop your team members.
My business partner and I decided to build our startup, OutsourceSales.com, with inexperienced sales talent for two main reasons:
- They didn’t need to unlearn bad sales habits and were more teachable. This meant we could implement new ideas quickly and get the best results.
- They were equally invested in the success of our startup because it would lead to the success of their sales career. They didn’t have a ton of experience to fall back on.
Here’s how we handled the hiring process…
We posted job ads on all of the university job boards and major local job sites.
We read resumes to find anyone who stuck out at us. We generally wanted to see a strong educational experience (one of our reps had two bachelor’s degrees!) and ideally advancement within a previous company.
Round 1 interviews were a brief phone call.
- I wanted to see if the candidate was comfortable and professional on the phone, as that would be a big part of how they presented themselves to prospects.
Round 2 was a series of tests where they treated me like a prospect. They had to send me a cold email and leave a voicemail on my phone.
- I wanted to test their language skills – Did they ramble on? Did they have a clear value proposition? I knew that most of these candidates would need further sales training, but I wanted to work with people who were great communicators already.
Round 3 was an in-person interview.
- I looked for professional appearance and general body language. I wanted to make sure they seemed excited about the opportunity to work with us and were comfortable in our startup atmosphere (we started in a basement office and that threw some people off).
Here’s how we handled the onboarding process…
As soon as we made the offer, we sent the candidate a copy of our onboarding manual.
Candidates didn’t have to read the manual in advance, but those who did were ready to hit the ground running. Otherwise we started their first day with a silent reading period where they had to read the manual.
This gave them the basic knowledge in a place they could turn to when they forgot it (and everyone forgets!). It showed them we were a low-pressure operation because we didn’t expect them to know everything coming in or remember everything just because we said it their first day.
Do you have an outdated onboarding manual? Do you need to create one from scratch?
Although ultimately we closed the doors of our business, it wasn’t because our reps couldn’t perform. They did great work for our clients and I was proud of every one of them.
Because of their experience at our company they were all able to move on to take sales positions at excellent companies. One of our clients even ended up directly hiring the rep who was working with them on their campaigns.
I got the privilege of watching sales noobs become rockstars. Considering Utah has some of the fastest growing and most well-known companies growing teams, we had to compete with some major players for talent.
Our hiring and onboarding process allowed us to quickly hire and train the best and brightest fresh talent, leading to a quick ramp up period and fast results.