Vital Startup Roles: How to hire your first salesperson

How To Hire The Best Salesperson For Your Startup

Venessa Vasilakeris Jul 11, 2017 7:23:00 AM

Hiring isn’t easy. Hiring for a startup is even harder. In fact, recruiting is the number one challenge that most founders speak about. This is largely due to the fact that most founders don’t have a background in HR. They might be great at what they do, but they’re not experts in recruiting. If this sounds like you, and you’re ready to hire some critical startup roles, consider what’s most important at your company right now. If sales are the big focus, here are some critical considerations to keep in mind:

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help!

First things first. You can’t do it all by yourself – after all, that’s why you’re growing your team. Hiring is a skill that’s developed over time. If you want to make sure you’re doing all you can to make the right hiring decisions, then take advantage of the resources available to you. Talk to your network. Where have they had success sourcing salespeople in the past? Ask for referrals; sometimes, the best talent isn’t applying to job postings. And do some research. We’ve got a number of blog posts that can help you out from defining the role you’re looking for, to conducting an effective interview to successfully onboarding your employees.

Know What You’re Looking For

Sales is one of the key positions in a small business, so make sure you know what you want before you start interviewing! Research has been done to determine the types of personality qualities that make for a successful salesperson in general – they need to be assertive, independent and know how to shift gears quickly. But keep in mind that different markets will respond to different qualities in a salesperson. A real hunter will have drastically different qualities from a farmer, so you’ll need to put some thought into what’s best for your specific company and target market. How assertive do they need to be? What structures do you have in place that they’ll be expected to follow? Will the role be fairly dynamic, or will you need the person to be comfortable with routine duties as well?

Assess Your Candidate Properly!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: casual, unstructured interviews are wildly inaccurate. Once you’ve defined what sales success looks like at your company, make sure you’re screening for it! Most salespeople present themselves as engaging, charismatic, and even charming in interviews. This sort of presence is probably important, but it doesn’t tell you anything about their tenacity, strength at closing or ability to deal with rejection.

Behaviour-based interviewing can help you get to these qualities. Behaviour-based reference checking can sometimes be even more valuable. And scientifically sound assessments can give you an even higher level of insight. They’ll give you an idea of a person’s natural behavioural make-up.

Don’t Just Hire For Past Performance: Consider Potential

The critical startup roles you hire are going to shape the future of your company. And your first salesperson is going to be the face of your company. A skilled hiring manager knows that past successes are important, but they aren’t the only determining factor of future success. A bright candidate who might be lacking in experience but who has the right temperament, attitude, personality and passion will more times than not be the better choice for long-term success. If you find those qualities in a salesperson, they’ll really have the potential to make it rain!

Hire essential startup roles to position your company for success

The most valuable asset your company will ever have is its people. As you hire the positions that will determine your startup’s structure moving forward, it’s important that you do everything you can to make sure that you’re adding the right ones to your team. If sales is your next focus, consider these things as you start your search. Good luck on your next hire, and stay tuned for more posts about hiring vital startup roles!

Topics: Hiring Strategies, Startup Development

Venessa Vasilakeris

Written by Venessa Vasilakeris

Venessa Vasilakeris is a Senior Solutions Expert working with McQuaig’s Solutions and Implementation team. She works with her clients to create customized recruiting, retention and development strategies using the McQuaig System and helps companies make smarter and more effective hiring decisions, measurably reduce turnover and increase staff productivity.