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  • Writer's pictureKyle Mealy

What You Need to Know Before You Make Your First Sales Hire

You’re the CEO and the only Salesperson of your organization. You’re in an awkward spot. You want to focus on your whole business (not just sales), but you can’t let your foot off the gas of your sales efforts - or you know you’ll slide backward...

A business leader realizing they have a great idea

Then it hits you!💡I’ll hire a salesperson!

"They’ll take the pressure off of me and go get new sales. That’s their job right?"

The reality? Probably not.

Before you throw some poor soul into the woodchipper that is sales, or curse all salespeople 6 months from now (because you hired poorly)...

Let’s take a moment to recognize the factors you need to consider before making this first sales hire. Make sure that you’re aligning your current business needs with your actual business systems maturity. Just because you are great sales, doesn't mean the sales person you hire will be able to sell like you.

Overly confident CEO

In this article, we explore both sides of the spectrum – when it's a good idea and when it's not – so you can make an informed choice that propels your business forward.

When Its a Bad Idea to Make Your First Sales Hire:

  1. Unrealistic Expectations for a Mid Level Sales Hire: Let’s be real, you’re a small business, and your budget isn’t infinite. Hoping an $80,000-a-year salesperson can build a comprehensive sales program from scratch, even with a significant bonus pool, might not yield the desired outcomes.

  2. New Business Comes is Generated Exclusively from Referrals and Personal Connections: No sales person off the street can leverage your relationships, connections, and the doors you have open to you as the CEO. Would you want a sales person at your Vistage or EO meeting? Then don’t expect them to get new leads from where you’ve gotten them before! They will need to create nothing from something. That’s slow, difficult, and expensive.

  3. Lacking a Marketing Program: The absence of a marketing program can hinder a salesperson's success. Even the best sales person needs runway and support. Adequate lead generation strategies and collateral ensure a consistent flow of potential customers for your sales person.

  4. Overestimating Your Ability to Translate Your Subject Matter Expertise: While you excel in explaining your product/service to your buyers (and connections). Expecting a mid level salesperson to replicate your expertise immediately might not be realistic. Transferring your ability to communicate your product knowledge into a sellable format will take time.

  5. Misconception about Cold Calling: Believing that a salesperson can solely rely on "pounding the phones" to generate new leads may oversimplify the complexities of modern lead generation strategies.

  6. Lack of Measurable Metrics: Don’t confuse activity for productivity. “Doing stuff on LinkedIn” doesn’t actually generate new business. Make sure you understand the measurables that will move the only needle that matters - new business.

When It’s a Good Idea:

  1. Consistent Cold and Qualified Leads: A consistent inflow of cold and qualified leads stemming from your marketing efforts will allow your sales person to get their feet under them and learn. It also allows you to smooth out your revenue growth so you’re not in feast and famine.

  2. Structured Sales Process: Your process was designed by an expert in building processes that can be followed by all. Someone who understands the gap in performance and abilities of a mid-level sales person and a CEO.

  3. Investing in a High-Caliber Sales Professional: There are true sales hunters. They can build something from nothing. But those people, know their worth and won’t come cheap. If you’re ready to invest $150,000+ and nail the hire. You could be on your way.

  4. Understanding the Synergy between Marketing and Sales: Recognizing that successful sales is complemented by effective marketing, you're prepared to align your investment in sales with parallel marketing efforts.


In the realm of hiring your first salesperson, there’s a lot of potential landmines. And if you’ve ever heard a CEO curse their first sales hire, I wonder if it was the hire or the environment they were hired into or the actual sales person abilities that were the issue.

Make your first sales hire your favorite hire! Be thoughtful and realistic when evaluating your current business's reality, your readiness to support a sales function, and your understanding of the symbiotic relationship between marketing and sales. By critically analyzing these factors, you're poised to make a decision that's both strategically sound and ultimately lead to true net new growth!


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