Simon Slade-Who You Know or What You Know in Sales?


Kevin Price, Host of the Price of Business on Business Talk 1110 AM KTEK (on Bloomberg’s home in Houston) recently interviewed Simon Slade.

About the interviewee
Simon Slade, CEO of SaleHoo, founded the company in 2005 with Mark Ling, director at SaleHoo. The idea for SaleHoo arose through Slade’s work for New Zealand’s local online auction site Trade Me. After receiving multiple inquiries about how he found his suppliers, Slade recognized the need for an outlet for online retailers to shop for trusted suppliers. The resulting SaleHoo Wholesale Directory reached 10,000 members just eight months after its creation.

Slade graduated from Griffith University with a Bachelor of Business Management and a bachelor’s in marketing.

He was a Global Operator Finalist at the 2008 Champion Canterbury Awards and an Exporter of the Year Finalist at the AmCham Export Awards. That same year, Deloitte Technology recognized Doubledot Media, the parent company of SaleHoo, as one of the 500 fastest growing companies in Asia Pacific, as well as the 23rd fastest growing company in New Zealand.

Tell me about your firm (number of employees, location, type of companies you work with, etc.). 
SaleHoo is one of the largest wholesale supplier directories and online seller communities on the Internet. Since its creation in 2005, SaleHoo has grown to include more than 8,000 prescreened suppliers providing 1.5 million different products.

SaleHoo has over 100,000 members, and 300,000 unique users visit SaleHoo each month. Most of these visitors come from the US, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

Based in Australia, Europe, the US and Asia, 29 staff members make SaleHoo possible. The headquarters are located in Christchurch, New Zealand.

What type and size of companies do you have as clients?
SaleHoo’s customers include two main groups: small businesses and consumers. Our small business customers include both online and offline retailers that have between five and 30 employees on average. These customers tend to have established product lines but are looking to expand them further, which is where SaleHoo steps in to help them connect with new suppliers.

The other main customer base we service is eBay and Amazon sellers, typically sole traders or those with one or two staff members, which we view as our consumer channel. These customers tend to just be starting to sell online or are relatively new to the industry but want to source better suppliers.
What comes to mind when you see this topic?
Knowing the right people, without a doubt, helps get your foot in the door, but if you do this and then don’t know how to close a deal, you will come up empty-handed in most cases.

When we look to employ sales staff at SaleHoo, we make sure we find people with that balance of industry connections and the ability to close a deal.
What are the best practices when it comes to this issue?
When hiring, start your search by finding people with connections, i.e., people with “who you know” clout. Review candidates’ LinkedIn profile and see if they have contacts in the specific industry/sub-industry into which they will be selling. Then examine their job history to determine if there are commonalities between their skills set and the market in which they will be selling.

After narrowing down our potential candidates who best match the criteria so far, we invite these candidates into the office to participate in a mock sales situation followed by a couple of real-world situations. We used this exact procedure when hiring SaleHoo’s new business development sales manager, and I believe it was essential to finding the perfect employee who can hit the ground running.

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