Photo of John Green

How to Find the Right Salespeople for Your Startup

The sales team plays a big role in the success of a startup company.

Unlike more established companies, startups often have to get results without the luxury of exposure, a refined product or service, reputation and social proof, or time-tested processes.

That’s why the hiring process for new salespeople is as important as it gets.

So today, we’ll cover tips for finding the right salesperson, or salespeople, for your startup.

1. Ask for Referrals

One great way to find candidates is to reach out to the people you trust the most and ask for referrals on salespeople. While not every referral will be gold, you could get connected with some excellent candidates you wouldn’t have met otherwise.

Naturally, anyone who has experience selling for another startup could prove invaluable for navigating the unique sales challenges that startups face.

2. Use Direct Recruiting

Referrals may not be enough, and when you look for candidates, direct recruiting works far better than posting an ad on a jobs board. You can scour LinkedIn for people who have already had success in startup sales, and then reach out to them about the position.

3. Know the Traits You Want in a Candidate

What are you looking for in your salespeople? It pays to think about what skills and characteristics might be needed to sell your unique product or service. Will they be selling face-to-face or over the phone? Will they need experience demoing a product or service? Will they need to be tech-savvy or social-media savvy?

Naturally, there are certain character traits that will be important as well. How important are characteristics like patience, persistence, charisma, aggressiveness, optimism, and organization? While some traits are helpful in virtually any sales situation, others may have particular importance to the needs of your startup.

4. Be Open to Hiring Remote Salespeople

Remote salespeople can be just as productive as on-site salespeople. Not only do remote members of your sales team save on overhead costs, but you’ll have a larger talent pool to choose from.

5. Ask Unique Questions During the Interview

Salespeople need to be able to think on their feet. By throwing out some questions candidates haven’t heard before, you’ll test their ability to do this.

6. Screen Candidates Multiple Times

Yes, it takes more time to conduct multiple screenings. It also makes you more likely to find the right salesperson. Considering how costly it is to replace a salesperson you shouldn’t have hired in the first place, being thorough in your interview process is an investment that pays dividends.

7. Don’t Get Hung Up on Experience

Experience is good to have, but it’s not everything. Charisma, dedication, and a willingness to learn and improve are also key. So consider experience, but don’t get hung up on it. A less experienced candidate with the right traits and attitude may have a lot more upside.

8. Keep a File of Potential Salespeople

If you find a good candidate who couldn’t take the job or didn’t quite make the cut, keep their contact info for the future. Situations change quickly. Especially in a startup environment. You may underestimate how many salespeople you need. Candidates who seem like all-stars may struggle, or clash, or leave. It never hurts to have a file of potential salespeople that you can call upon.

Wrapping Up How to Find the Right Salespeople for Your Startup…

When you know how to find good salespeople, it gives your startup a huge edge. To recap, here are tips to find, and hire, the best salespeople for your team:

  • Get referrals from people you trust.
  • Be proactive, and reach out to people you think would be a good fit.
  • Figure out what traits you need in your salespeople.
  • Don’t be afraid to hire someone remote.
  • Mix up your interview with some unique questions.
  • Conduct multiple screenings to be thorough in your selection process.
  • Consider, but don’t hung up, experience levels.
  • Maintain records of potential salespeople you can reach out to in the future.