How to Hire the Best Salespeople for a Startup | Sales Executive Recruiters

      How to Hire the Right Sales People for Your Startup: 5 Tips

      Many startups offer innovative and good products which are launched by qualified engineers, designers, or product managers. Those startups have great products and services to offer. However, what they’re, often, lacking is a successful sales team.

      The reason for this is simple — in many cases, startups don’t know much about sales nor about how to make use of salespeople.

      In this article, an experienced sales executive recruiter at Cowen Partners takes a deeper dive into the topic, explaining how to successfully build a great sales team for your startup.

      The concept of sales

      Before we will have a look at how to build a sales team, we need to understand the concept of sales. Every time you close a deal, you make a sale. Leads are, usually, found by your marketing team. Later, the deals will be closed by your sales team.

      The way the deals are closed is, thereby, very important. If this is done wrong, your sales team won’t be closing many deals. Hence, it’s important to hire the right candidates for your sales team. The right candidate knows that sales are about building a relationship with the customer. Only when this relationship is established, the customers know that your company cares about them. Therefore, it’s important to spend enough time on the sales process.

      Now, we will have a look at 5 useful tips of how startups can build a successful sales team.

      1. Sell yourself!

      Before hiring anyone, you need to learn to sell your products or services yourself. Thereby, you can understand which problems your sales team might face. Only by knowing how to sell your products or services yourself can you help your employees to close deals successfully.

      Furthermore, when selling yourself, you will learn what your customers think about your products. This knowledge is crucial when it comes to improving your products and services. Put the consumer’s ideas directly into product development and create even better offers in the future.

      Of course, at one point, you will want to hire a professional team of salespeople for your startup. However, don’t just let your employees sell for you. Meet with your team on a regular basis, ideally daily. This will give you the opportunity to watch your sales team present and sell. By giving valuable feedback, you can help them to work even more effectively in the future.

      2. Hire candidates who want to grow

      When it comes to choosing the right members for your sales team, it’s important to select motivated candidates. Ideally, they’re passionate about their profession and want to grow. During the hiring process, pay attention not only to the candidates’ experience and achievements but also to their motivation to improve their skills and help your startup expand.

      Here’s an overview of the traits a good salesperson should have:

      • He or she evaluates how your customers use your product or service.
      • He or she takes the customers’ comments into account.
      • He or she asks your customers for constructive criticism.

      You can only improve your products or services if your sales team pays attention to the needs and wishes of your customers.

      3. Identify the right leads

      In sales, identifying the right leads is crucial. But what characteristics do the right leads have? First, the right leads have the authority to buy. Besides this, they also need to have the necessary budget to buy your product or service. And last but not least, you should take into account when they are planning on buying your product or service.

      When having interviews with potential candidates for your sales team, you should always ask whether the applicant knows the difference between A leads, B leads, and C leads. Furthermore, you should find out if the candidate knows how much time to spend on each lead. 

      A leads will close in less than 3 months. Therefore, your salespeople should focus on this kind of leads and spend around 70 % of their time on them. B leads, usually, closes within 3 to 12 months. Your sales team should attribute 30% of their effort to these leads. And lastly, C leads will take longer than 12 months to be closed. Your sales team should not focus on these leads. Instead, your marketing team has to nurture them first.

      4. Hire the right based on the stage your startup is in

      Depending on the stage of your startup, you should hire different people for your sales team. In the beginning, when there are no defined processes, you should focus on hiring Mavericks.

      Mavericks feel comfortable in a work environment which is lacking a defined structure. These kinds of salespeople are passionate about educating customers about new and innovative products and services. However, since Mavericks prefer working independently and despise control, you should not promote them to VP of sales or another manager position.

      As your startup is growing, you will implement well-defined processes to close deals more effectively. At this stage, you should hire Journeymen. These candidates lack the passion and motivation you find in Mavericks. However, they can effectively close deals in a work environment with well-defined processes and structures.

      Finally, after you have your product-market fit, you should hire some Superstars. Superstars are a combination of Mavericks and Journeymen. They can follow rules and are, at the same time, passionate about sales. Therefore, they combine the positive traits Mavericks and Journeymen have.

      Superstars know how to lead a team. Those are the CMOs for your startup, as well as the CSOs and other C-suite sales leaders. However, they are, usually, rather expensive. Therefore, you should only hire them when having a successful product market fit.

      5. Consider mavericks

      Seasoned or senior salespeople, usually, worked at companies with very well-established and precisely defined processes. While that works for an established company, it can cause several problems within a startup. Often, having senior salespeople in a start-up will not only lead to criticism, but also to frustration.

      Besides this, senior salespeople are, usually, rather expensive and don’t have the passion younger candidates have. Instead of a senior salesperson, you should hire a Maverick.

      Build a Successful Sales Team for Your Startup

      Building a successful sales team is crucial for your startup! However, don’t just let your employees sell your products and services for you. Only hire them once you fully understand how to sell yourself. Then, help and support your sales team to close leads. By hiring the right candidates, your sales can only increase in the future!

      Sales Executive Recruiters | Cowen Partners Executive Search

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      Our hands-on sales executive recruiters have experience working with private, public, pre-IPO, and non-profit organizations. Clients are typically $50 million in revenue to Fortune 1000’s or have assets between $500 million to $15 billion. Successful placements span the entire C-Suite – CEOChief Operating OfficerChief Financial Officer, and include vice presidentgeneral counsel, and other director-level leadership roles.

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