On February 16, a group of New York area private company executives gathered at Inc. Magazine's headquarters to discuss best salesforce development practices. Based on this original white paper on the topic, co-authored by five Inc. 5000 CEOs, our discussion was geared towards the entrepreneurs who manage and hire salesforces.

"You'll never be an Inc. 5000 company trying to replicate yourself"

That was the sentiment expressed by the Inc. 5000 CEOs when discussing their own experiences with salesforce development. Dan Epstein of ReSource Pro and Rick Haig of Haig Service Corp (both members of Inc. Business Owners Council) shared their point of view:  The CEO or company founder has to redefine their role in the company and embrace the idea that professional sales people play a different role than the entrepreneur--even though the entrepreneur is frequently the best salesperson in the company. 

Dan and Rick discussed the ways they hire and train professional sales people (hint: they are not miniature versions of the entrepreneur--they focus on sales and sales only) and the way the CEO can contribute to sales while at the same time appreciating how important it is to let the salespeople play their role during that process. 

Two sales experts, Tim Askew of Corporate Rain and Herb Greenberg of Caliper Corp, (also members of The Council) both offered their own perspective on salesforce development. 

Tim reminded us that most of sales is rejection and that most salespeople we hire will not remain in those jobs long. In Tim's experience, as an outsourcer of high level sales, he considers a 1 in 10 close rate to be extremely successful. And when it comes to hiring and firing salespeople, he expects 1 in 5 to succeed. The rest are shown the door.

Herb Greenberg, the CEO of Caliper Corp, makers of a unique profiling tool for human resources departments, tells us that sales people must be driven by three things: ego, a drive for money and an insatiable need to "close the deal." 

David Kaufman, partner at Rothstein Kass, the event's sponsor, reminded us that not all sales are equal. If you're focused on growing revenues, you may want someone who can generate a high volume of sales. If you're looking for highly profitable sales, you may want someone who can cultivate long term relationships. 

Thanks to all our wonderful contributors.