10 years ago
January 6, 2015

5 Keys to Hiring Good Sales People at a Startup

These keys to hiring good sales people at a startup will help your organization begin building an efficient and cost effective sales hiring process.

Rhys Metler

Hiring good sales people is a difficult task for startup and early stage companies. These organizations are usually operating without the benefit of experience that would inform a repeatable hiring process for sales people, and may not be sure of what type of sales people to hire – or where to find them. These keys to hiring good sales people at a startup will help your organization begin building an efficient and cost effective sales hiring process from start to finish.

Look for Candidates Who Thrive in an Entrepreneurial Environment

It is sometimes said that all sales people are entrepreneurs at heart, but the truth of this statement can vary by the sales person and industry experience. While sales people can, and frequently do, transition between industries not all will have what it takes to thrive at a startup. Focus your process for hiring good sales people for your startup by looking for candidates who:

  • Use consultative selling techniques that will help early stage customers become familiar and comfortable with purchasing from your company
  • Understand your company and product and can become promoters for the business
  • Are equipped with the skills to help shape future iterations of your offerings based on customer feedback
  • Can think creatively and operate efficiently without clearly defined sales processes

Know the Productivity Metrics Sales Hires Need to Meet

Knowing how much your sales hires need to contribute to your organization in the first year following hire is one of the most critical steps to ensuring that you make the right choices when hiring good sales people. Your revenue targets should take into account the cost of hiring and paying sales people, and should be divided by the number of sales people you intend to hire so that you know how much each sales person must sell in order to break even, meet, or exceed your revenue estimates. During the hiring process, look for objective evidence showing that a sales candidate is consistently able to sell enough to help your company meet its goals after costs.

Structure Compensation to Attract and Retain Sales Stars

Compensation is often a stumbling block for startups struggling with hiring good sales people. In a startup environment where salaries tend to be lower, companies often make the mistake of thinking that the compensation available is not sufficient for hiring good sales people. However, startups can often increase their chances at hiring good sales people by thinking outside of traditional compensation and offering other compensation opportunities, such as vacation incentives in lieu of higher commission rates and stock options that can be restricted during the startup phase.

Move Quickly on Promising Candidates

The job market for sales currently favors sales people, meaning that hiring good sales people is more difficult than ever for organizations of all sizes. For a startup it is crucial to act quickly when promising candidates are found so as to be able to make an offer before the competition. To increase your opportunities for hiring good sales people, be sure to:

  • Utilize all available hiring channels, from traditional print media to social and online media
  • Contact outstanding candidates quickly to schedule an initial interview
  • Follow up consistently with strong candidates to keep these individuals abreast of your hiring process

Act with Confidence Using a Sales Recruitment Firm

Professional sales recruitment firms have experience working with organizations of all sizes at all stages of development, including early phase startups. Using a sales recruitment firm can be particularly advantageous for startups since a sales recruitment firm can help a startup shape its processes for hiring good sales people while attracting and recruiting top sales talent. Using a sales recruitment firm is less costly than making hiring mistakes, especially when the future of a business is on the line. Contact a sales recruitment firm with experience in startup sales before making your next hire for a consultation on your organization’s unique needs.

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.