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Business basics: should we hire sales staff right away?

You may be a shy person. You may be scared to speak in front of crowds. You might just not be that confident in your product/service yet. No matter what the reason is behind it, you are sitting there right now wondering "should I just hire one-two people for sales and focus on what I know best?" You've seen affiliate programs for great products/services pop up all over the place, and if there are people out there making a full time living at it, then odds are they are better at the sales than you would be right?

Well, if you can't sell your product/service then why would anyone else be able to? If you don't know the ins and outs of what make your target market tick and what makes them open their purses and wallets, how is someone on the outside looking in going to be able to do that for you? You know your product/service better than anyone, because hey, it's yours! So lets take a quick look at some of the pros and cons of hiring a sales staff and then I want to open the floor to everyone to share their thoughts on the subject in the comments.

Pros to hiring a sales staff right away

  1. You can focus more on the creation side of your business. Whether it be designing, coding, drawing, writing or some other form of freelance work, this is where you're at your best, right?
  2. You can potentially generate more sales because you can have multiple people bringing in leads/sales, which in turn allows you to earn more profits and potentially hire more employees to design, code, writer, draw, ect.
  3. Lets face it - having a sales staff hitting the streets for you makes people look at your business as a large company and look at you as the head cheese, right?

Cons to hiring a sales staff right away

  1. You do not have the first hand knowledge to teach your sales staff what works and what doesn't.
  2. You lose the ability to be a personable company and interaction with your clients/potential clients becomes harder to maintain
  3. You might have sales staff who know how to speak well and sell, but what happens when you're having a conversation and you don't have your elevator speech?
  4. If your product/service is a bust, you just spent unneeded expenses on hiring out that sales staff when you could have easily tried selling yourself, found out it isn't an indemand enough product/service and moved on without wasting money.

My personal thoughts

I personally do not feel that hiring a sales staff is the right direction to go when you first launch. I believe that with information products like e-books and other forms of product similar in style (ie: wordpress themes, scripts, ect) yes, a sales (affiliate) staff is a good idea, but since the majority of us reading this blog are all Guerrilla Freelancing, getting our feet wet and hitting the full time hurdles, I think that selling yourself should be priority #1.

I will be touching on the sales subject again in some upcoming articles. If you're interested in learning how you can make more sales, I wrote an article over at the Bootstrapping Blog titled 10 steps to making that first sale and I think it's worth the read. It will definitely help you get your focus together on how to go about selling your services and products to your niche markets.

So what do you think?

For those of you who are freelancing full time, what do you think about this? Do you hire a sales staff right away or do you learn the ropes, hit the pavement and put in some hours selling your product/service before you even think about hiring a sales staff? For the part-time and/or "thinking about jumping in" freelancers reading this, what do you think you should do after reading the above information? Will you be hiring a sales staff or pushing the product/service yourself?

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  1. Ian Farmer says:

    You are absolutely spot on. If YOU cannot sell your product (early stage / freelance) then a sales person at the level you will be able to afford has no chance. All you do is burn through money (even if you find someone to sell commission only) and burn through good leads that the sales person will blow for you. Leads are hard and / or expensive to generate – you cannot waste them.

    There are three solutions you could explore:

    1) interim sales management, with the right person you will get decades of experience for relatively little outlay –

    2) get a sales coach to teach and support you –

    3) teach yourself and there is lot of help out there – free weekly sales tips at and good advice at

    Good luck good selling.

  2. Something else to think about when you’re first starting your business- network and collaborate with people where you mutually need each other to fill positions. Not everyone has marketing/design/whatever skills. Forming partnerships where you can barter your skills is great especially in a time of economic downtown. You have to be creative when you are starting up because you can’t just go spending money like there’s no tomorrow. The internet has given us a wealth of resources, including people. Use it.

  3. I agree. It is important to learn how to sell yourself first.

    Many people feel they need to be persuasive or pushy or ‘salsey’ to get great great sales results…That is old school thinking and no longer how it work.

    I would encourage seeking support from a sales coach who can truly customize a genuine selling approach that will work for you and then support you in developing a team the right way when/if the time is right.

    Here is a description of how one on one sales coaching support can help:

  4. You should hire sales staff if you want to grow a business, not remain a single person. If you’re a developer or designer, the additional sales will force you to hire another team member soon.

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