Sales Execution

Finding a retired (but bored) senior sales person

Matt Selbie

July 9th, 2018

I am founder of an 8 year old B2B SaaS feedback business. We have a replacement to traditional forms of feedback (comment cards, mystery shop etc) - and use the cell phone for on the spot input. We can sell to almost any business but have focused mainly on Government agencies, and outdoor attractions. More info at opiniator.

We are not a start up and cash flow positive.

Getting seasoned sales help is proving elusive - hence the request here.

By chance I found a newly retired CTO who works a set number of hours and is just fantastic (smart, experienced, seasoned, dependable, excellent with clients) - and now handles all technology - and not looking for anything else.

So now I am thinking is there a resource to find the same on the sales side - so that they can supplement on the sales side whilst helping us non sales founders with their sales wisdom. Am not looking for a founder, rather someone with experience looking for supplemental income who is not ready to hang up their boots.

I have gone through a number Director level sales folk (wrong fit, could not sell, too long to train, really looking elsewhere) - and am jaundiced by the experience BUT know I should not be doing all the selling.

Co founder sites tend to assume they would be all in, and not usually targeting the retired hence my question to the group which is:

1) Has anyone else tried this?

2) Over and above simple personal networking, where did you try to find such a person.

Any assistance gratefully received.


Chowdari Babu Founder @

July 13th, 2018

Is this field job or Inside sales

Matt Selbie

July 13th, 2018

Chowdari - it is inside sales - all of our sales are via webex / phone call. Matt

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

July 14th, 2018

It's great to hear someone with a business that's cash positive and ready to grow their infrastructure. Let's assume it is a salesperson you need. From your description, the last type of salesperson I would be looking for is seasoned or director-level. Those "experienced" people tend to be less flexible, harder to train, and often feel like their own methods are better than whatever you might have been doing for sales yourself to date.

I would aim more at candidates who only have a year or two of experience, perhaps with a SaaS company like SFDC, or maybe who have been working the same type of lead funnel you're using today. Those folks you will not need to teach much about style of selling, but you will still need to train them on the product they're selling, your company values, and speaking with the voice you've established.

I do use specific job boards like to look for salespeople, more than Indeed, Monster, etc.

What isn't clear is whether you're trying to find someone to fill a leadership role in Sales or someone to take over the mechanical work of sales calls. The owner is always going to be selling, but hopefully not as their primary function. And until you have a large enough organization that layers of management are appropriate, there's nothing wrong with salespeople reporting to the owner, or the director of operations.

My guess is that if you're trying to shift sales work from you to another person, you don't need a new sales manager, you need a solid salesperson who is interested in your product, can take direction, and that you continue to coach & manage as they grow and you add more salespeople. They might even be the sales team lead at some point, but if it's your first split, don't think about a management layer. Keep it simply salespeople reporting to operations or you.

Yes, the type of compensation structure has some bearing on the type of salespersons you might most attract. But my guess is that the bad fit has been from aiming too far towards the horizon when looking at the immediate functional aspects is enough.

Even when you do grow enough to have sales management, you as the owner are still going to be supervising the sales management and interacting with the salespeople. Perhaps if you're taking a less steep step, you'll find a person who fits in better. A good salesperson matches the culture of your company, believes in your product, and is incentivized to do the things you want done.

That last part is really important. If you incentivize the wrong things unintentionally, your salespeople will not be doing what you want. They'll be following those incentives. Incentives are not just monetary rewards, they can include independence, other freedoms, respect, kudos, flexibility in schedule, etc.

If you've gotten cash positive, you don't need someone with sales "wisdom," whatever you imagine that is. You need someone with initiative, curiosity, and who looks for opportunities. That's far less the mode of a seasoned salesperson and much more the mode of the junior salesperson with ideas, looking to advance their career. Be willing to listen and temper the fountain of ideas. Hear them and ask questions when you encounter ideas that you worry they will not reach the objectives. Be their coach and support them and the fresh talent will blossom.

David M

July 9th, 2018

If you are having trouble attracting talent, perhaps you need to re-evaluate your compensation structure and increase the incentive for working with you.