Former MSP Leaders Urge Clear Metrics And Close Management To Make New Salespeople Successful

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Solution providers should get their new salespeople used to making calls quickly and pay them to leave the company if they're unhappy, according to a panel featuring former MSP executives at CompTIA's ChannelCon in Austin, Texas.

"Hiring salespeople is the hardest thing in the world," said Crash Lowe, Alpha Dog (leader) of Waterdog Technologies. "Because if someone's really good, why on Earth are they leaving where they're at?"

Waterdog typically conducts 10 interviews before hiring a salesperson, one of which will usually take place in a bar so that Lowe can get a better sense of what a prospective employee might be like when they're not trying to impress him. And from the get-go, Lowe warns applicants that being a salesperson for Waterdog isn't a 9 to 5 job and that employees are often expected to put in 12-hour days.

[Related: Solution Providers Told: Don't Leave Developers Out Of Business Conversations]

"Then you get just a small number of people that apply, and those are the people that are really hungry," said Lowe, who previously worked at an MSP.

Within the first 90 to 180 days, Lowe said solution providers should have a pretty clear picture of how the new salesperson if working out. At that point, Lowe recommends offering the new rep money to leave the company to facilitate an easy exit if the employee is no longer than interested in working at Waterdog.

"It will cost you less to pay that person to leave in 90 days or 6 months if they're not working out than to have them bleed you dry for a year or two," Lowe said.

Waterdog's vetting process has apparently worked well, as no employee has taken the Springfield, Mass.-based distributor up on its offer to leave, according to Lowe.    

Solution provider CEOs should also outsource oversight of their sales reps to an account manager to free up time for the top executives, according to Len DiCostanzo, senior vice president of community and business development for Autotask. Many channel partners likely have an engineer or someone else already on their staff who would be well-suited to fill this role, DiCostanzo said.  

"Have someone take that load off your back," said DiCostanzo, who founded and run a technology consultancy business for 17 years. "Go sell some more, and bring some more revenue in."

Autotask historically threw its new sales reps into the fire, DiCostanzo said, and would have them on the phone talking with prospective customers on their second day in the job despite knowing very little about the business.

But that all changed in 2014 when the East Greenbush, N.Y.-based IT service management vendor was acquired by private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, who pushed Autotask to have a three-week boot camp for new sales hires. Yet the industry still struggles with a 50 percent turnover rate.

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