Most startup companies that are technology based aren’t founded by sales people. Founders of technology companies are more likely to be business development people with MBAs, Engineer or Product Managers. These are the types that usually are business model minded or production minded.
These types do not understand sales or what it takes to bring in sales for startups. However, we all know that any business, startup or otherwise, need sales people. So just how should these founders go about Hiring Sales People for Startups? What should they know, look for and expect when hiring sales people?
First, you need to understand that a great sales process is required in order to create a great sales program. Great sales people have a natural ability, an unlearned skill that just comes naturally. With that being said, to begin the growing process for your business, look for the person that knows and understands the sales process. A person who has that natural ability AND is process oriented.
Ok, now you know what you need in a sales person, how do you go about weeding out the applicants that answer to your ad for Sales jobs in Startups? Start by breaking them up into groups:
Craftsman / Craftswoman: These are people who come to you with a background in sales where they have gained their experience from a sales manager’s instruction. They know the process as they have learned it from a seasoned sales manager. They are organized and do well with using a structured process such as SalesForce.com. They thrive with a process like this as it reminds them what they are to do each day. They operate by the ‘tickler system’ that tells them who to call and reminds them what the call is too focused on.
These type of sales people are always on time and they know how to work with clients on their ROI. They are great at organizing demos from the owner to IT and every step in between including purchasing and the legal department. This type of sales person is a great value to an organization because they are the lifeblood of the organization. However, they are not what a startup company needs at first.
Why? Craftsman / Craftswoman aren’t the type of sales person that gets prospective customers to take that “leap of faith” that is needed to get a new company, a new process or new product a chance. They are better with products that are already known and understood and are sold in a process that has been defined. For this very reason, a Craftsman / Craftswoman does not make a good sales manager either. These are the ones that will turn every rock and squeeze every drop of possible business from existing accounts. They are good farmers and can make the existing business grow bigger.
Nonconformists: These are just the opposite of the Craftsman / Craftswoman. They are not good with a system, following the process. They naturally know how to steer a sales campaign and how to make the opportunity happen that gets them to the senior executives. They hit on all of the cylinders that sales methodology is built on, from understanding the pain, map a road around the barrier, prove the ROI, define who are the competitors and get every department within the customer’s organization to agree.
The Nonconformist is chaotic and unmanageable when it comes to following processes. BUT! They can smell the decision maker and find out how to get to them. They build trust between them and the customer, they build the long-term relationships that get the repeat business. For them, it is easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission and they aren’t afraid to jump without asking. In the end, while chaotic and swimming upstream, they will close the deal and much more to follow. Every organization needs the Non-conformist. These are the gals and guys that hit a home run every time they are up to bat. They are not good at following the procedures laid out before them nor are they good at leading others either.
The Non-conformist will have the natural ability to sell and could be your VP of sales. For a startup company, who have the innate ability to sell with a potential VP of Sales that will need to run your team. The Non-conformist is what a startup company needs in the early stages because they will get your sales jump started and bring in the customers that will be loyal. They need all the support a company can give and they will reward the company with big sales. They will be the motivation for sales people you hire later.
The Non-conformist should be given the new area you want to develop. They need the unknown so they can release their dervish-like energy and work their magic. They will open doors so the Craftsman / Craftswoman Superstar can build the account to the max.
Superstars: As the name indicates, this breed of sales person has the natural ability to sell. They are structured and follow the process set before them. They will give you all the benefits that the Non-conformist will, however, you can predict their moves and rely on them, they are constant. They work good with leverage and can harness the power of several journeymen and give you sales consistently.
Superstars are the best and because of that, they shouldn’t be a startup’s first hire because they want the most money. Once your business has launched, is proven and you have your Non-conformist in place and a few Craftsman / Craftswoman in place, then bring the Superstar on board. They will bring your organization leadership and structure that will enable you to grow quick but predictably.
Trouble: This sales type you will notice right off during the interview process. They aren’t good in taking directions, they aren’t process driven and most likely can’t sell matches to a fire-eater. They are not successful sales types.
As your startup business takes off and begins to grow, this method of personality typing will be more important. Tighter territory division will be necessary so that the Superstars are assigned the accounts that are more complex. Building a strong sales team will be key in building your startup into a thriving business.