Decide What You Need in a Salesperson

Years ago, when I had much more time on my hands, I loved to paint.  Not the kind of painting that uses an easel and a palette.  No, it was the kind of painting that requires a roller and painting tape.  I personally painted (or papered) every room in my home back in the day. I had a great sense of satisfaction when I completed a room.  I was happy with the results.  But to the professional eye, I’m sure, my efforts would have been met with mixed reaction.

Those days (sadly) are long gone.  Time is pretty precious for me now.  So when this winter’s ice dams did extensive damage, it was time to call in the professionals.  I’ve hired various painters over the past twenty years, but I had never hired a painting contractor.  Last month I found out the difference between the two.   In the past I chose colors myself and the painters simply followed my instructions.  The painting contractor, however, had valid suggestions about the endless possibilities open to me (did you know that there are 355 shades of green in Benjamin Moore’s color wheel?).  He asked good questions about what I wanted for a “look” and took into account how much sun each room got during the day.  We had two long meetings just on color choices.  I even pulled my pal Julie into the process.  She has a super eye for color, too.  Between the three of us I think the final choices are stunning, if I do say so myself.


According to the contractor, not everyone enjoys this process as much as I did. Anecdotally, he commented on the times he’s been instructed by clients, “Just paint the kitchen yellow and bathroom blue.”  When he’s offered help on making their color selection, they’re just as happy to have him make the choice. I must admit, I never could have done that.


I’ve been in the same situation with managers. I’ve had hiring managers whose request to me was simply, “Find me salesperson.”  When I start to question them about what kind of a salesperson they want and need, some have simply said, “Someone who can close.”  There are an infinite number of colors to consider when painting your walls.  It’s almost the same with salespeople.  The possibilities are truly endless.

Here are a few steps to help you “whittle” down the choices to decide who will make you happy and get the results you need.


I ask managers this one critical question to start the process: “If everything is going the way you want, what will be happening in sales?”  Then I sit back and listen to what they tell me.

If they don’t know where to start with this very broad question, I help them get more “granular” in their thinking.  And here are some questions I like to ask . . .

  • What will be the results (I call them the “deliverables”) of their first year selling?
  • How many new logos will they add to your customer base in the first year?
  • Which companies will they prospect and call on?
  • What will be the territory?
  • Do they have marketing support?
  • Where do the sales leads come from?
  • Is this an outside or inside sales role or possibly a combination?
  • Is this a short transactional sale or a long relational sale?
  • How much will the salesperson be earning if she meets her sales goals?
  • How much will she earn if she exceeds her goals?
  • Will they be “hunting” for all new business, or is this a position where they will be “farming” existing customers?
  • Who is their competition in the marketplace and how will they differentiate?
  • What’s the career track for this position?
  • Why would someone be attracted to your company and want to take this job?

The answer to these questions will help shape what kind of a salesperson you’ll seek and hire.

Ideally, you’ll be working with your salesperson for a long time.  And, like the paint selections I made, going through the process means I’ll be happy with those choices for a long, long time.

RED SOX NATION—the Green Monster comes in a can!   Did you know that Benjamin Moore’s Fenway Collection is now available? Check out this fun video.

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