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How to Hire Sales Reps for a Start Up

by chris on March 3, 2013

Sales people always face objections. Selling for a start up means facing objections and a tremendous amount of resistance. The customer is unfamiliar with the business and has no reason to trust you.  You have few (if any) references, no proven merchandise, reputation, or extended track record.  The product is usually more expensive and buyers perceive working with you as a risk.   In the beginning the founder tackles this sales challenge.  As the company grows and develops so does the sales department.

Very few early stage companies are started by salespeople, which means very few early stage founders are sales experts.  Start up sales is evangelical sales.  Your reps need to educate the customer about something new and different, and convince them there is a need for the product.  Your seller needs to be able to have your clients take a leap of faith.

This specialized selling requires a specialized rep. Your sales recruiting process must be top notch, should include the use of sales candidate assessments and interview scripts. Startups can’t afford to waste money or make hiring mistakes.  Top sales producers from brand name employers are often romanced for the job.  The thought is that experienced sales reps will bring in sales quickly and easily. That decision is often costly. Superstars from marquee employees don’t encounter the type of resistance that start-ups face. In this environment they will fail. They are accustomed to selling mature products with strong reputations. When you have market share and a proven product, look for your superstar. To get it all started you need a maverick.

The maverick is a breed of salesperson that views challenges as opportunities.  They function with little internal help and support. They aren’t sensitive to risk and they can inspire customers. They are fearless! He will expand your pipeline of leads, handle customer relations and create his own sales proposals while the founder focuses on building the product and running the company.

When hiring a maverick, sell the journey, but don’t pretend it will be easy.  It won’t.  Finding someone who has already succeeded with an early stage company increases your chance for success. Get the whole team involved with the hiring, because you will all be working closely together.

Startup sales people are evangelists, hustlers and relationship builders all in one.

Find them and don’t let them get away!

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