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How to Hire Employees for Sales in a Startup

By Kelly Barcelos

January 21 2021 - Hiring a salesperson can be a huge responsibility, especially when youíre running a startup. The right call can shoot the sales and revenue up and a wrong call can bring the business down. And this is the reason founders of most of the startups decide to go out in the trenches themselves before hiring a dedicated salesperson. And thatís a great way to start since you can:

  • Understand your target buyers and their needs.
  • Develop a strategic sales process.
  • Predict when and how the sales close.

And with the experience, you can devise a fool-proof recruitment strategy to hire the first salesperson for your startup.

Though you must take into account your business needs when hiring for sales, there are a few qualities of a good salesperson that you should look for irrespective of the nature of your business. Letís have a look at them.

Must be able to build a pitch - In larger companies, often a dedicated marketing team comes up with a strong pitch and narrative and the salesperson reads through it to close sales. But since startups do not have such extensive resources, you must look for a professional who can generate a kickass sales pitch.

So, make sure you add a mock pitch test to the interview process. Share the guidelines with the candidate and ask them to come up with a sales pitch. This will give you the opportunity to gauge their potential and make sure that they are trainable.

Must be comfortable with cold calls - Cold calling can often be taxing and frustrating. And while the marketing team and salespeople share this responsibility in huge companies, a salesperson in a startup must be able to make cold calls single-handedly. Moreover, they must be comfortable with this less-glamorous and hectic role. Hence, patience and persistence are two qualities that your salesperson must have. Also, make sure that they are open to additional roles of salesperson such as approaching potential buyers in social and business events.

Must be able to build and refine the sales process - For a startup to be successful, every team member must bring something unique to the table to continue optimizing every process. So, it is obvious to expect your new salesperson to bring in some experience so that they can refine your current sales strategy.

So, while interviewing to hire employees for sales, give your candidates some homework and ask them to come back with their opinions on your current sales method. Ask for their inputs to improve it. To be really sure, you can even try out their suggested method for a week.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

There are some common mistakes employers make while hiring for startups such as:

Hiring a Senior Leader - Hiring a senior leader may look exciting on the outside; after all, they are bringing years of experience to your business. But senior leaders wonít be willing to roll up their sleeves and grab every sales opportunity no matter how small it is. Hence, you must hire someone who is open to learning and ready to explore; someone who can work closer to the front-line and close sales on their own.

Putting Experience Above Skills - Though some experience in the field is necessary, it shouldnít be the top criteria while hiring for sales. Assess your candidates peculiarly and see if they really have the Ďskillsí you need in your salesperson. Sometimes, employees with no domain experience end up performing better than relatively experienced professionals.

Hiring a Pitcher Instead of a Consultative Seller - As soon as you hire a salesperson, chances are they will dump as much product information as possible on to the potential buyer. Instead, salespeople in a startup must be more focused on the feedback of the buyer and work with the rest of the team to improve the product and the marketing strategy in the initial few months. They should be more interested in making the product successful than just working 9 to 5 with no dedication.

Closing sales in a startup is a lot more work than in a larger company. And this is why hiring responsibly and carefully is necessary. After all, with such huge pressure of growing the business, you canít afford to hire a wrong person. Hope this was helpful.

About the author

Kelly Barcelos is a content marketing manager for Jobsoid and specializes in HR. When Kelly is not building marketing campaigns, she is busy creating content to help people hire better. She shares tips, industry insights, innovations and several other topics that helps a wide variety of audience in their hiring efforts. As a working mom of three, she knows the importance of time management and counts on her multitasking ability to get her through her to-do lists.

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