Startups are generally founded by technology/ product management guys and face challenges when they go out in the market to sell the product. Its a very common scenario every startup faces and it simply points to a question – who to hire for their first sales position.
How do you decided who to hire, startups prefer hiring people from close references but again question arises would you hire a VP sales guy from a similar space who is good in closing deals or hire a young but promising guy who is raring to go and will come on board at far less remuneration.
First and foremost step for startups to do is understand what they really need. Most startups have several specific needs that your first sales hire must fulfill. Hiring a wrong salesperson at the first stage can really make a big dent in company’s growth plan, literally can make or break the company. Best thing to do is chalk out the specification for the position, management team should agree on that specifications and then hire accordingly. Some of the questions you can ask while interviewing your first sales guy –
1. How to build sales momentum
Every startup simply needs to begin making sales. Look for someone who has sold a similar product successfully in your space. Hiring a successful corporate salesman into a startup can be a disaster. You need someone who shows evidence of self-sufficiency. Has the candidate launched a product in new geography? Have they set up any channel sales partners in new territory. Ask your candidate to cite examples of creating momentum in their past jobs.
2. Test Sales Pitch
Resumes can be deceptive so just don’t blindly trust resumes, make the candidate demonstrate their sales technique. Ask the candidate to formally present tentative sales pitch/strategy to the entire management team of your startup, sales pitch can be either for their current product or a rough version of the pitch they would use for your product. Question him on why he chose that approach. That management team should be able to get a sense of candidate selling abilities.
3. Reference Check Your first sales hire is going to bring back critical market feedback on your product as he sells. The right salesperson will be a very important member of your product development team.Check their abilities by talking to past or current clients. Does candidate listen well to potential clients? Has the candidate gone out of the way to sell the product as per the clients need? Talk to at least 2 clients and find out.