8 years ago
April 13, 2016

How to Hire Top Sales People For a Start-Up

When the time is right to hire a sales force, a start-up company must ensure that the sales people assembled can perform immediately for the company.

Rhys Metler

hire top sales people for a start upAfter determining that the time is right to hire a sales force, a start-up company must work hard to ensure that the sales people assembled are able to become evangelists for the company, develop business, make sales, and help coordinate feedback about products and services that might not yet be fully developed. To attract these top sales people, most start-up companies turn to experienced sales recruiters to find candidates; this makes the process easier, but a start-up company must still understand the hiring process for top sales people.

Understanding the Types of Sales People You Need for a Start-up Company 

There are differences in the ways that top sales people tend to pursue business; not all top sales people are comfortable working the same way. If you have never hired a sales person before, it might come as a surprise how well the candidates for your first sales person come across, but to see your start-up company succeed you must be sure to pick the right top sales people to sell your particular product. Ask questions and seek further information about candidates’ backgrounds to determine which category each falls into.

  • Mavericks. Mavericks are those top sales people who are perfectly happy to work without structure, and are able to make sales happen in a rapidly changing environment. This makes them ideal for many start-up companies; however, entrepreneurs should be aware that a maverick may break what rules there are for the sake of making a sale.
  • Journeymen. Inspired and guided by the processes of selling, top sales people who fit into the journeymen category are intensely reliable and typically dedicated to their organization, making regular high-value sales. However, journeymen do not tend to do as well in organizations without dedicated processes.
  • Eagles. Sales eagles are the most sought-after top sales people. Their talent for selling seems to be guided by almost unerring instinct, which puts them in the top 5 percent of sales people in any organization. Eagles are usually on a career track to sales management and frequently thrive in start-up company environments.

Make a Process for Interviewing Top Sales People 

Sales are the lifeblood of any start-up company, and the cost of a sales hiring mistake at this early stage can be astronomical – potentially even derailing the company. With this in mind, entrepreneurs looking for top sales people should design an interview process that allows them to compare sales candidates directly on the same metrics and performance indicators. By making the interview process standardized and repeatable, a start-up company can be sure that it is making the right hires based on objective information, rather than the subjective information that forms the basis for all too many bad hires. 

  • Start with a phone interview. Completing a phone interview with likely candidates prior to scheduling a face to face interview can save you time and help you gage candidate interest.
  • Ask the same core questions. Draft a core list of questions to ask every applicant and notate responses during the interview process so you can directly compare candidates’ hypothetical skills and reactions.
  • Check at least three references. For a start-up company where making the right hire is crucial, you may even want to ask for five or more references – and make sure you are able to get in contact. 

As you look for top sales people to work for your start-up company, keep all resumes and applications, even those you do not think you will want to call for an interview. These may be a fit for another opening and can save you time recruiting for your next position as your start-up company grows. At the very least this will save you from reviewing the same application twice should the applicant call to confirm you received his or her missive – a time savings that will allow you to focus on hiring top sales people for your growing business.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.