What’s the best way to find a biz dev person who will work on commission?

QUESTION:

I started a web design and internet marketing firm in 2009 and have come to the point where I would like to grow the business so I decided that I need to hire someone whose job would be to acquire new clients.  What are the best steps to find and get this person on board with the fact that I would like them to be paid on performance/commission, since I can’t afford to pay a salary yet?

ANSWER:

Naomi Kokubo

Naomi Kokubo

by Naomi Kokubo, Cofounder of Founders Space

Every startup I know would like to get a talented biz dev person to work on commission.   The problem is that most really good sales people want a base salary and can get one.  It’s only unemployed or inexperienced sales people who may consider working on a commission only basis.

The one thing that can change this equation is to offer equity in the company, so that the sales person is vested in the growth of your business.  This still probably won’t allow you to lure a sales person away from a job with a comfortable six figure base salary, but it may get you off the ground with a less experienced or temporarily unemployed biz dev person.

It really comes down to how valuable that person perceives your offer of equity and commission to be.  If the person doesn’t believe in your company’s growth potential, the equity won’t be very attractive, and if the sales cycle is long or the commission is low, that too won’t be very attractive.  In the end, it’s hard to make this work, and sometimes you get what you pay for.

Lots of times you simply have to bite the bullet and pay a low base salary with generous commission and/or equity.  Or else, do it yourself until you grow the business to the size where you can afford someone.

That said, here are some places you can start looking:

  1. Post on CraigsList — always a cheap way to find good people
  2. Attend local mixers and networking events — you’ll meet lots of biz dev people
  3. Advertise on your web site — it does work
  4. Post on college campuses — if you’re looking for someone less experienced
  5. Talk to friends and ask if they know anyone
  6. Ask your clients if they can recommend someone
  7. Get a friend to help you out
  8. Go on LinkedIn and join all the biz dev groups
  9. Get on Facebook and put out the word
  10. Contact your local chamber of commerce and other local business organizations

Good luck, and I hope this helps!

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