Q: I'm looking for part-time or shared sales reps for my three-person company. How do I go about finding people?
A: Half a salesperson won't necessarily drum up half the revenue of a full-time sales rep. Part-time employees rarely show the same loyalty as full-timers. And if your shared rep has another employer whose product is an easier sell, he or she may give you the short end of his or her attention.
That said, you can find independent sales reps through specialized job boards such as Dice, which posts listings for the technology industry, and SalesTrax, which focuses on sales positions. Some staffing agencies, like 10 til 2, in Denver, specialize in filling part-time positions.
Not surprisingly, companies that make complex products like atom smashers will typically have to pay more for a good salesperson than those selling potato peelers. You may be able to afford a full-timer if your product is even-a-child-can-explain-it simple. "If it's not a technically complicated product, go down to your local university and find some enthusiastic graduates," advises Adam Ross, vice president of sales at Infusionsoft, a Gilbert, Arizona, developer of marketing software.
You could also try looking inward. Ken Wasch, president of the Software & Information Industry Association, recommends making top-line responsibilities part of everyone's job description. Your software developers may be better sales people than you think, provided they aren't total introverts. After all, who knows (and loves) the product better than those who raised it from a pup? "You can train people how to make cold calls and how to find leads," says Ben Chodor, president and founder of New York City–based Stream57, which makes webcasting software. "But you can't train people how to have passion for your product." Chodor recommends having each team member spend a few days a month phoning and e-mailing contacts while the others stay focused on projects. If cold calling is too daunting, you could have your team respond to inbound leads instead.
And, of course, the most effective evangelists are ones you don't pay at all. In fact, they pay you. "If you do a good job for a client," says Chodor, "that's the best marketing you could have."