As soon as the owner of a growing business has maximized her own time available for the sales function (by hiring others to do as much as possible of the service function), she will naturally want to hire additional people to help continue growing revenue. This is a critical moment in the growth trajectory of the business!

If the entrepreneur gets this wrong and hires the wrong kind of personnel, growth will not only stall, but the business could go backward! This is true because value, resources, time, and money are wasted with someone who isn’t truly productive.

Avoiding this risk and maximizing opportunity involves looking for a winner. Here is what I think are the critical things to look for:
1. DEMONSTRATED and PROVABLE previous success. This sometimes isn’t in sales, but sales are better. Winners win!
2. Drive. Ambition is great, but drive is essential. Ambition without drive is hell on earth for everyone.
3. Work Ethic. This is very closely related to #2. You want someone who thinks 40 hours per week is part-time and they want a full-time opportunity. Full time in sales is 60-80 or more hours per week.
4. Ambition. I love it when someone asks if they can skip the base salary and have a higher commission rate. Those people don’t come along often. You must look for them; they are worth looking and waiting for.
5. Competitive. A great salesperson is always looking for someone, even themselves, to compete with. These people want to be the best, be number one, be better next month than they were this month. They are never satisfied. They are often a pain in the ass in this respect, but that competitive fire is what makes them what you want – a winner. When they want to own a piece of the business and are willing to do seemingly impossible things, you’re on the right track.

The biggest problem I have experienced and have seen our agency owners experience (we have over 170 agencies in our organization), is “settling” for someone who isn’t strong in all five of these things. Mediocrity or failure is always the result.

By the way, when you are ready to hire a salesperson use competition to your advantage; hire three and keep the best.

Finally, statistics show 50% of all applicants lie on their resume or in thier interview. Everyone is on their best behavior in interviews. So, demand proof of prior successes, such as a W2. Don’t want to show us? Then go away. Also, use a testing instrument to make sure you are getting the plumbing behind the wall that you want. The best I have ever used in over 30 years, bar none, with virtually 100% success rate, is Culture Index.