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Finding and hiring sales professionals the right way with Salesfolks

Finding and hiring sales professionals the right way with Salesfolks

Miguel Amado
Hiring salespeople is not easy and any help in that area is welcomed. Salesfolks was created to improve the organization’s record and find the right match for both parts.

But how do they do this? We talked with Lief Larson, Co-Founder and CEO of Salesfolks, to know more about the growing community and plans for the future. Check out this special Website Planet interview.

What motivated you to create Salesfolks? In your view, what is the major problem that companies have when hiring sales professionals?

Hiring salespeople is extremely hard and risky. Sales and revenue leaders, if we’re being honest here, often overestimate their ability to select the right salespeople. That’s why nearly half of all new sales hires never hit quota. I’m guilty of this myself. I failed with a number of sales hires. That inspired me to build Salesfolks.

We wanted to help sales and revenue leaders to do a better job of identifying and attacting sales professionals who would be a better fit for their organization. Why? A single mishire in the sales department can cost over $200,000. It isn’t just missed sales goals, which can be huge. It is also the predictable costs, which are many.

You have base salary, FICA (28%), benefits, PTO, the cost of sales software and productivity tools, office space and equipment, and the administrative and operational costs of onboarding, socializing, training and supporting a sales team member. This is one of the largest and riskiest cost centers businesses experience today. I felt that better hiring decisions could be make with better data and insights.

Why should a specific platform for sales professionals like yours be a better choice than bigger marketplaces like LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is wonderful for hiring. So are CareerBuilder, Indeed and numerous other hiring platforms. I encourage sales and revenue leaders to use several. That said, take a look at a profile of any salesperson you see on LinkedIn. Do you know where that content came from? It’s the salesperson. They have created it. They have curated it. They show you what they want you to see. That is fine. But, we felt that there were valuable insights into salespeople that were missing.

So, we have been compiling data on 6.35 million salespeople. At our data page we explain that we don’t take data from LinkedIn. Our approach is to both collect unique intel from our users AND to use third-party data sources to provide a broader picture of the sales candidate. All we focus on is the art and science of sales hiring. As a result, we have been rewarded. Salesfolks is the #1 organic result in Google for dozens of search terms like “hire salespeople” and “find sales reps.”

Our specialization is our superpower. Plus, we have inbound, outbound, passive and active sales candidates. Often the salesperson you are looking for isn’t looking for a job, they have a job, but you want to identify them and attract them into your business. Salesfolks helps make that type of candidate activation easier.

What technologies do you use to facilitate the process of finding and hiring?

Our entire platform was built from the ground up with painstaking effort and many thousands of hours of devops and coding. What we are doing never existed before, so we had to build from stratch the solution we wanted to see exist. Inside our platform are hundreds of millions of records. A powerful search capability. The ability for sales reps to apply-to-rep with businesses, the ability for businesses to invite reps to apply, interviewing, contracting, training and even compensation (for 1099). Sales and revenue leaders can quickly publish a Sales Job Post to our platform and start finding candidates very quickly.

God bless all the folks out there who have built an incredible developer toolsets or contributed to opensource projects. What we have achieved so far likely would have been cost-prohibitive or impossible just a handful of years ago. Our tech stack is diverse and nuanced. We use Laravel Livewire for our framework, Stripe Connect for our marketplace payment solutions, and mailgun for our system-generated messaging. We also have two partners that are absolutely incredible: Amazon AWS for our cloud infrastructure and the Vonage team where we lean heavily on their API platform for SMS and voice/video.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face since creating the concept?

In my experience the first chapter of most startups isn’t finding out how to succeed, it’s finding out how not to die. It takes resourcefulness to do much with so very little. It’s about tenacity and picking yourself up by the boostraps each morning, even if the prior day was just rotton.

The biggest challenge hasn’t been the problem statement, it has been gaining concensus around our idea for the solution and our vision for the future. Gaining that concensus takes a long time. Fortunately we now have thousands of salespeople, as well as sales and revenue leaders, using Salesfolks.

We also have surrounded the business with the smartest people we can. We owe a lot to the people who have been helping us along the journey. Folks like Dan Tyre, the first salesperson at HubSpot, who has provided invaluable mentorship. People like Gary Flake, a former CTO at Salesforce, who is just so incredible at helping to quickly mature underdeveloped concepts. Oh, and then there is Henry Glickel, the founder of Sales Recruiters, who has been in the sales hiring business for almost three decades, who I learned so much about why sales hiring is so darn risky.

As entrepreneurs we accomplish NOTHING by ourselves. It’s all about building a world-class team of co-workers, mentors and advisors.

Can you share with us a success story that proves the relevance and power of Salesfolks?

We see positive outcomes and case studies in the platform constantly. But, the success story I proudly hang my hat on is that all of the salespeople we have developed relationships with have come from connections developed on Salesfolks. In the software relm we used to call the use of your own product “eating your own dog food” but our advisor Todd Crawford told me the better phrase is “drinking your own champagne.”

Todd has been a co-founder at two unicorn businesses (Commission Junction and cj.com) and very early on he encouraged us to use our own product like a customer would. Doing so not only imparted empathy and seeing the experience of using Salesfolks through a customer’s eyes, but has also been invaluable in helping us develop our tech roadmap and where we are headed in the future.

What are Salesfolks’ plans for the next 3-5 years?

We aspire to be the destination businesses around the world turn to when they think about building out a sales team, or growing their existing sales team. We want to be the place where salespeople go to connect with sales opportunities with uncapped earning potential. COVID accelerated many changes that were already happening in the marketplace.

Manual gig economy work models are now going upmarket into skilled areas, such as sales. There is demand from sales and revenue leaders AND salespeople for more access to fractional and contingent labor force strategies. There is growing demand for on-demand, plug n’ play and remote sales. Salesfolks serves both W-2 and 1099 sales professionals.

Over the next several years we anticipate significant model innovation occuring in the sales occupation that will help businesses to reduce their upfront CapEx risk, make better sales hiring decisions, while providing more flexibility and autonomy to salespeople. We are actively building for that future.

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