Should You Buy Or Build Your Sales Reps?

  An experienced sales rep will come with some baggage, but an inexperienced rep will need training. Which one should you choose?


Build or buy your first few sales reps as you get things going? It’s a tough question to answer whether you should build or buy your sales reps.

Sales Reps Bring Experience

The pros about buying your sales reps means you get somebody with experience who’s been there/done that, and who maybe has experience in the industry and can come with potentially a book of business. Those are the benefits. They hopefully can get off the ground running. They have a reputation in the marketplace, and they bring sales experience to the table.

Sales Reps Bring Bad Habits

The cons of that though, are that they come with a lot of baggage. Most sales reps, because this is such an uneducated industry, and you think about this, 4132 colleges in the United States of America, you can only get your degree in sales of less than 20 of them. It is the number one profession on the planet, but yet none of us are actually formally taught how to do it, so most sales reps learn by experience.

They develop a lot of bad habits along the way, so you bring somebody on board with those bad habits. There’s a lot of baggage and you often times have to reverse engineer them to get them to sell the way you want them to is not an easy thing to do. Plus, if you look for somebody who has a book of business and is looking to bring that over to yours, if you think about the sales are going and selling for one company and then moving to another company and saying “hey you know what now I’m over here, it’s better here,” that sales rep tends to lose a lot of credibility the more they make those transitions.

Building Sales Reps

The other option is building sales reps. Now the benefit to this is that you get to cultivate and grow them the way you want the way you want to, and so you can teach them the right way to sell if you have any sales experience at all.

But the negatives, obviously, if you don’t have any sales experience you teach this kid how to sell, and in depth therefore you’re looking outside help for sales trainers or coaching or whatever it might be.

Now my preferred approach is to build because I like to create my sales reps to get them to buy into the product, to the solution and to what the vision of the company is and start them off at a lower position. For instance, maybe inside sales where they’re going to make a bunch of phone calls and get used to what the picture is and take some ride along with you as a founder to learn how to deliver that message and then grow into maybe that field sales rep that goes out there locks on doors and sells and grows into a closer and evolves into a VP of sales or something that can really make a difference for your business. those, in my experience as a small business of the best ones we come across.

Find People Who Want to Evolve

A profile of that person, in my humble opinion is somebody who’s already gone through sales in some way shape or form in a larger company. So somebody from like ADP or Xerox or where they spent 2 to 3 years in a system from a larger corporation that is given them training. They’ve learned what it’s like to take a beating, get on the phones and taking no 99 out of 100 times, and they they just aren’t comfortable in the corporate culture of you know you have to spend two years doing this than two years doing that in two years doing this. You know they want to evolve, they want to take that next level and it’s based on performance.

So if you can find a rep who’s 22-28 years old, who’s hungry, who has drive, who has passion and has already at least been trained a little bit from a larger corporation, to me that is the best sales rep possible for a new founder and as an entrepreneur trying to sell something.

About John Barrows

John Barrows currently provides sales training and consulting services to some of the world’s leading companies like, Linkedin, Apttus, DropBox, Box and many others.  His previous experiences span all aspects of Sales at every level from making 400 cold calls a week doing inside sales to running sales as a VP for his first start up and selling it to Staples.  

He’s an active sales professional who has learned a lot about what works and doesn’t work in Sales and loves sharing the tips and techniques he has found to have had an impact along the way. His main goal is to improve the overall education and quality of Sales by sharing ideas and techniques that work.

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