How to make sales hiring less confusing

No one can sell as well as I can,” says just about every badass agency owner that crushes sales

Small business owners spend up to 30% of first year’s salary, on average, and waste up to 4 months searching for the right candidate (Source: ADP)

Sales can get even more confusing: salaries, commission structure etc. and wtf is a draw?

Sound insane?

Think … how much time have you spent trying to hire a “salesperson” that “works”?
An SDR (sales development rep)?
A BDR (business development rep)?
A closer? Screw the acronyms… a list builder?


Meet Meg:

Meg has an amazing 7 figure agency
Working 5 days a week, 6 hours a day, big clients
Pretty sweet, right?

Has a great foothold in the SF and NY markets

It gets sweeter…
Most of her sales were from referrals and although her clients were corporate, she was able to bank on an amazing reputation and her 1 call sales cycle was a pretty outlier … pretty indeed

And then…
she decided she wanted to go after
a different market,
a different vertical, and
at a different price point
For funsies 🙈

She decided to hire a salesperson
She never really had to hire one before
And few failed attempts in the past never resulted in any kind of ROI

Hence, she had so many questions:
What type of salesperson do I get?What do I pay these people?How do I train them?

Why did this weigh so much in my (scaling) heart?

If you hire an experienced salesperson, they start selling on Day1

The best organizations have sales training that lasts between 3-8 weeks

Set up a training schedule for your sales people, whether they are junior, senior or trainers, so they are entrenched and sold on your product/services everyday – have them drink the literal “Kool-Aid” that they will be selling.

I asked Meg to solidify a few things before she took someone on:

  • How long is it going to take your salesperson to ramp up (learn the products, the sales strategy, tactics, process and competitive landscape)?
  • How long is it going to take your person to start seeing sales (= ramp up + average sales cycle)?
  • Do you have all the sales materials, processes, and resources ready for a salesperson?
  • At what point, do you profit from the salesperson? For instance, they work for you for 6 months and make 20k in revenue and you have paid them 15k base plus a $1,400 commission on a total profit of $3,600 – Is that 18% ROI in half-a-year really worth to you? ehhhh not so much.

I gave an example of a recent client and her sales structure who owns a niche Ad Agency and has a fully functional lead generation system that feeds to her 3 current sales reps:

  • New hires are paid $2500/month for the first three months (what she considers the ramp-up)
  • After the first 3 months, she pays $3500/ month with 10% commission for new customers and 5% on past customers (note – she has an incredibly large portfolio of clients)


She also had to make decisions on how she was going to pay this new person and I gave her a few rules of thumb:

A good rule of thumb is to compensate depending on how much they are going to do of the user acquisition (basically how much of the funnel are they in charge of).

Just Commission (Not recommended):
If it’s just commission, you can think of it as a referral or marketing fee.

She also had to make decisions on how she was going to pay this new person and I gave her a few rules of thumb:

  • 10% for all leads
  • 15% for qualified leads that you close
  • 20% of all leads that they acquire and close

Now, this is assuming that they hunt, gather and bring the bacon to the company so you are not spending additional resources on marketing.

Most great sales reps will not agree to commission only because

1. They need to ramp up

2. They consider it equity and they are not looking to be a partner in your firm unless they are – then that’s different

Just Salary/ Wage: (if they are closing, no bueno)
This is good for people who are helping you set up sales systems or sales coordinators who are doing all the administrative piece of the sale. This is about average 15 -20/hour, 30-35k a year.

Salary + Commission: the best practice for closers
In this case, you want the base to be a livable wage with a credo of: “May I never go hungry again”

It’s an average salary of 35-45K a year for sales reps in NY (for comparison)

And any commission is the gravy for shiny new toys and fancy foodie dinners

Some companies do a split i.e. if your sales rep wants to be making 150k a year and your formula is 50/50 then you would provide 75k and they would target 75k in commission for sales. Or you can do 40/60 and so on depending on how much hunting they will do.

The actual commission in this piece is on average 5-10%, most businesses consider 7% or above to be generous.

Now you may have heard about commission structures — if you wanna get faaancy. What that looks like is a tiered system that incentivizes the salesperson to sell more. For instance: you get 5% for the first 100k you close and 7% after that for the rest of the year.

Thanks, Juliana! “now I’m officially confused — what did Meg decide?”

She was ramping up marketing and she really needed someone to help her with lead coordination and setting appointments. Last time she tried hiring a closer, it didn’t work out because enough leads were not trickling to feed them and keep them happy.

This time, we made sure she:
1. Gathered all the sales assets she needed
2. Put together a training schedule for her junior sales coordinator
3. Hired them at $12/hour for sales and marketing admin work and $40/booked call
4. Trained them in setting calls and product knowledge
5. Promoted them to a junior closer 5 months later


Don’t you just hate leads and opportunities with all their pesky questions? 
What’s your price?
What are your offers?
Who have you worked with?
Meh meh meh LOL

Instead of being irritated by the range of innocuous to almost offensive questions that the sales cycle consists of, be ready to lay down all the answers like BOOM!

As opposed to blurting out (in your head)
“STFU, pay me and help me help you”
Take a look at this list and make sure you have all your stuff ready to email back within 2.5 seconds flat.
Before the little voice starts chattering and kills your deal
>>> Check out the Sales Process Toolkit


Thinking about recording calls…
For sales training?
For marketing content?
For improving conversions?

  • Tape a Call is a little app you can download to make calls from your mobile
  • Uberconference  is a free web-based call recorder that lets you take calls from anywhere in the world
  • Jive is a VOIP that allows people to have a “physical” phone line too
  • Toky is amazing for call recording and message centralization, great integrations with Pipedrive and WhatsApp for business
  • Zoom for when you are ready to level up and do video calls. It might be a little scary, but it’s worth the conversions!


>>> Before firing his biggest client which was 65% of his 7 figure agency (ouch), I told Jeff that he needed to fill his sales pipeline. He did. After much resistance to putting in a real sales process, he started crushing his lead gen on LinkedIn and repeatedly got ideal clients that made his team really, really, really happy 😊

With zero additional sales training, and just sales process he and his number 2 increased their sales closing rate up to 85%, consistently … not bad indeedy