Hiring sales talent in startups

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Recruiting and hiring the right people is one of the most present topics in startups these days. When I was working in a food-tech startup in Silicon Valley, on some days the founders would suddenly stop normal operations and start to exchange thoughts on the next person to hire in the company.

In a technology startup, which most startups are, the founders only have technical skills and are less familiar with things like customer acquisition and sales. For this reason many startups are facing the question: “How should I hire somebody with certain skills and knowledge that is out of my expertise”. This can be very challeging, especially if this person is the first hire of the company and becomes crucial in the next phase of the startup. Which is often the case with the first sales hire.

According Naeem Zafar, startups should hire a variety of sales people during different phases of the company.

In the first phase of a startup it needs a “gladiator” type of sales men, someone that is passionate about his work and will never give up. Once the company evolves into a more structured organization the “soldier” type of sales men comes into place. He is trained to do sales and can sell anything he wants. When startup has outgrown its size and becomes a large company a “chess-player” should jump on board. This type of sales men makes strategic plans about where he wants to go and what he needs to do in order to accomplish these goals.

Some other things for startups to take in account when hiring sales people for startups.

Make sure you have a list which contains more than one person on it, – sales people come and go -, especially in Silicon Valley. Meet up with experts in from a specific field of interest [social media, retail, cleantech, etc.] and ask them to recommend potential sales people. And most important, Startups are looking for a person that is flexible and has the ability to learn super-fast!

Please comment on this blog if you have ideas for more tips & tricks to hire sales people.

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