Q: How To Find Help Selling Professional Services

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, Sales, skmurphy

Q: My software consultancy has reached the point of needing to hire someone to help manage the sales pipeline. I’ve hired all kinds of technical related folks, but never for sales.

A: Have you developed a written job description and list of qualifications of skills desired?

Q: Yes: here is our first draft. We could really use feedback. We’re obviously targeting someone on the newer side since we’d like them to grow right along with us.

We are a small, but quickly growing, software services company with significant goals  that focuses on iOS and Android mobile application development and supporting technologies. We are looking for a enthusiastic and passionate Sales Person/Account Manager to join our team and be apart of our company expansion. The main job responsibilities will be to spearhead new client acquisitions and to help manage client support for long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with all of our clients. Initially, this is a 30 day renewable contract position that has the potential to become a full-time position.

Originally, the position would pay $500 per week for the first 2 months; after which, the compensation would transition into a purely commission-based position. In addition, the job would include a weekly stipend mechanism for legitimate business expenses. The position’s commission compensation is 5% for sales up to $100,000 and 10% for sales above $100,000. Commission is paid immediately after payment is received from the relevant client and project. Part of the responsibilities of this position will include new customer on-boarding as part of our team, which may include contract and payment negotiation.

The ideal candidate for this position will be able to do the following.

  • Collaborate with our team to identify and manage the work pipeline and sales cycle
  • Work our team to identify and establish short- and long-term goals and objectives
  • Self-starting & ability to work independently
  • Capable of prioritizing and setting their own schedule
  • Research, identify, and sell services to appropriate clients
  • Attend community events and meet-ups to obtain sales leads and increase company visibility
  • Work with our team to create an suitable stipend & expense budget based upon identified goals

A: You stress enthusiasm and passion but don’t specify what would constitute relevant experience.You might reconsider this and think about what kind of “have done / can do” questions you would want each candidate to address.

I would be very cautious about hiring on a “commission only” basis, especially for what appear to be services offerings. As to commission, you should reflect on how much effort your team current spends on lead generation and on negotiation to close of contracts and  consider which of these activities–to what extent–can be driven by your sales person. There will likely be a multi-month learning curve as the sales person learns the strengths of your team and how best to prospect. A 90 day probationary period seems reasonable, a 30 day one seems short (although a poor hire can become apparent very rapidly).

This hire is at least equal in importance to a senior developer in terms of the potential impact on your revenue and profitability.

It’s worth looking at how firms similar to yours structure the job responsibilities and compensation and to look at this role as critical to growth instead of a necessary evil or expense to be minimized. I am not saying that you should overpay by any means but that you should treat it as of the same importance as bringing on a senior technical contributor.

Other Resources For Selling Professional Services

Article: “The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Sales”

Mark Duncan and I crafted a short article on “The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Sales” that is more focused on products but you may still find offers a useful overview.

Good Books on Selling Professional Services

Related Blog Posts on Pricing and Selling Professional Service

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