How to hire a salesperson for a start-up

Do you remember buying things that you didn't even know you wanted because the sales person was so persuasive & passionate? 
Everyone remembers a good salesperson. They tend to make an impression. What this often means is that who is selling becomes very important.
Sales is the lifeline of any business. They have the power to make or break a company.And in the case of start-ups, having the right person selling can mean the difference between life and death for the company. 
But as a startup founder, you might be used to doing all the roles by yourself. But there will be a time when you have to hire your first salesperson. And this can be overwhelming. 
You have never hired a salesperson before - what do you even look for? 
And then there is the question of trust - how do you find someone who will be responsible for generating revenue for your organization and leave it up to them?
And where can you look for them?

When to hire your first salesperson?

As a start-up, it is common for one of the founders to be one of the first salespeople for the company. Though this might be your strength or not, it is a critical step as it allows the founder to be directly in touch with the customers and understand their needs, get direct feedback and evolve your offerings as the company grows. 
All this learning from selling directly to your customers, will help you evolve the sales process when you later hire salespeople, so you can set them up for success. 
But one must not wait too long to hire salespeople either, as there could be downsides to that too.
So when should you make this transition? Here are a few indicators that can help you:
  • You know your target audience and what the need you are trying to solve 
  • You understand your sales cycle and can predict if and when your sale can close 
  • You have developed a sales process that works and has room for improvement
  • You do not have the time to follow through every lead that is coming your way 
  • One of your biggest challenges is how to scale your time
Once you are convinced that you need to hire salespeople, the next step is to figure out the characteristics you are looking for. In this process, you should first define what your ideal hire looks like. You can create a checklist of characteristics, traits, experiences and skills. Many of these can flow from your experience of initial sales that you carried out. 
How long was the sales cycle? 
What kind of things were helping you convince the client?
Who are your buyers? What kind of people do they respond to?
Here is a checklist that can help you: 

What characteristics should you look for? 

  • Basic intelligence and the ability to think on their feet: Very often, even if you create a solid sales process, at the end of the day, your salespeople are dealing with human beings - which means you cannot prepare them for everything. They might need to present your products or services after understanding your clients’ needs and offering them in the way that appeals to them. 
  • Understanding the products/services: This is a critical step for anyone to become a good salesperson for your organization. They should know the inside and outside of every product and offering. They should know the constraints and the pros of buying from your company. Their expertise is what will help them close deals, especially with trying customers.
  • Ability to field questions: Your salespeople might be asked questions they weren't prepared for or asked to explain certain details of your product or service that they don't have information about. In such cases, they should be able to field these questions in a convincing manner so that they don’t lose the client or their interest. 
  • Consistent effort from past experience: Depending on the products, sales cycles can be long or short and salespeople might not always close deals but putting in consistent effort is key. 
  • Passion and Drive: You can only sell what you believe in. It is helpful to find people who align with your company’s values and offerings. Their belief in your products and services can help drive up the passion quotient, which will clearly be visible during the sales process. 
  • Rapport building: One of the biggest characteristics that defines a good salesperson is the ability to build rapport - not just with your clients but also with your team. 

How to find great sales people?

The next obvious question is to figure out where you can find the kind of talent you are looking for. There is no one way to do this. There are many avenues for you to try. You can choose based on your budget and time available. Here are some options: 
  • Direct recruiting: This is probably the most effective way to find & hire top sales talent for your organization. This means doing it yourself - by going onto platforms like Linkedin, sifting through profiles, matching skills and contacting the people who make the cut. 
The obvious downside is that this can be a time-consuming and often a frustrating process. And it might mean you will have to convince someone who was not actively looking for an opportunity to quit and join you. 
Pros: You will find hand-picked candidates that perfectly fit your needs. 
Cons: Time-consuming, inability to match skills perfectly due to lack of experience
  • Job portals: This is the easiest step from the organization’s point of view. All you need to do is create a profile and post it on all the major job portals. But there is a common belief that you might only get suboptimal candidates as the great ones are always snatched up. 
This might be a good way to start off and get the word out there. And if you have a strong screening process, it might be worth the effort. 
Pros: Quick, easy, inexpensive, wide-reach
Cons: Possible low quality of candidates, loss of time in the initial screening process
  • Referrals: Referrals are an excellent way to find candidates for your organization as you can be convinced of the quality of the candidates. But sometimes, it could add unnecessary pressure to make the hire even if it is not the best fit for your organization. Hiring wrong candidates often ends up being very expensive for the organization. 
It can also sometimes present a skewed impression of the candidate: a good fit for one organization might not be a good fit for another. 
Pros: Reliable, easy, inexpensive
Cons: Limited reach, social pressure, sometimes unreliable 
  • FlexiBees: We, at FlexiBees, invest time and effort to understand every client's needs and perfectly match it using our deep vetting process. You can choose the candidates based on your specific needs, including number of hours. 
All you have to do is fill in a form to tell us what you need, and we will get our team in touch with you to get the process started. We will send you curated profiles to choose from and then hire. 
Pros: Cost effective, agile, on-demand, vetted and experienced talent 
Finding the right sales talent can be challenging. Remember as a start-up, you need to first sell your start-up to the potential candidates. 
If you want to see the kind of people we have recruited for our clients, click here. 
If you are convinced, then click here to reach out to us.