Hiring Sales Reps for your Startup

In my time working in a startup for 2 years, it hasn’t been hard for me to figure out that the most difficult part for a new business is hiring.

It is rightly said that a good product sells itself, but at the same time, it is also essential for any business to have sales reps who are worth being the face of the business and the product. Hiring for sales includes persuading the right people (who can persuade others gracefully) into being a part of your team.

In this small article, I am highlighting some points which you need to know and consider while hiring a sales rep.

Understanding Manipulation Vs Persuasion

“Good salesman persuade, they don’t manipulate”

Persuasion is a pure act of making people believe in your thought and in your product. It is making people understand how your product is in the best interest of those people.

Manipulation implies persuasion with the intent to control or contrive the person on the other side of the conversation into doing something which is benefitting for the one manipulating the person, only.

Persuasion uses facts, while manipulation relies on emotions. This is because emotions are less concrete and harder to pin down than facts are. Apparently, the difference is that persuasion can include the best interests of others, as well.

“ A persuader will serve the person he is persuading; he will sell a product or service that he genuinely believes will add value to his customer’s business or life. A manipulator, on the other hand, focuses solely on himself. He is not serving another person but rather targeting someone for his own ends. This is the key difference between persuading and manipulating. ”

You need to make sure that the candidate is persuasive and not manipulative. He has facts to back his thoughts up and he shows clear intent to help your organization succeed.

Experience Vs Education Vs Trajectory

The best thing which experience does is that it helps you organize things better. With experience, you learn how to make smaller processes which impact the bigger outcome. Experience and education also impacts the exposure which the person has had previously which in turn might be valuable to learn about his potential productivity and skill.

All these points are more relevant in sales than in any other role. For instance, an experienced sales person will be able to manage his follow up processes, prioritize and sort his clients much better as compared to a newbie.

Education has its fair share of relevance too. A degree is not just about getting a job. Education affects the social skills, inter-personal skills, intellectual skills as well as ethical aspects of an individual personality which are very relevant for a sales profile.

Traditionally, the education and experience of a candidate has had a much bigger impact on a salesman being hired in a team or not, but hiring a sales rep in modern times involves much more than just evaluating the education and experience.

This is pretty obvious, but generally you want to stay away from people who have worked exclusively at large corporations. They’re just not likely to have the right mindset or interest in working at a startup. Startups are much short on cashflow as compared to the big enterprises and thus, there is much more pressure on people selling on behalf of the start up.

More than the education and experience of the candidate, it is the trajectory of the individual that matters the most. You need to be sure that the candidate shares the vision, has the conviction, acquaints creativity in his application and most importantly, has the enthusiasm to succeed.

Opportunity Vs Compensation

It is true that a healthy salary attracts a lot of people and in sales, a lucrative incentive policy can lure more applications, So you need to be sure that you make competitive offerings to your salesmen. But only salary won’t make the difference.

The best candidates look beyond the compensation as a whole. Opportunity is more than just salary and involves various other intangibles which are beyond the paycheck. For example-

  • The potential of your product

It is important that the candidate realizes the potential of the product that your startup is offering. He needs to know how he can be a part of the idea which can make things or life better for any individual or enterprise. He needs to know the quality of the product he will be selling and this is impossible to quantify with a dollar amount.

  • The people they will be working with

When a top-notch candidate looks at the immense quality of the people he will be working with, he will be motivated even more to join the team. You need to educate the candidate about the quality of management and other knowledgable peers he will be working with. Not only will this be considered as an immaculate opportunity by the candidate, it will also infuse motivation into him.

  • Work culture
Work culture is an important determinant of employee retention.

A salesman should be able to ideate and innovate in his approach to get more sales. A restrictive and rigid process flow might stop him from achieving more. In modern approach of staffing, high emphasis is given on the work culture. Not only does it improve the performance, it helps increase the retention and overall productivity of an individual to some extent.

For a sales personnel opportunity is more than just a job. If you’re offering an opportunity to shape a career and to form a future, that’s incredible. In the process of hiring sales rep, you might make a few mistakes (i did too) but you need to take your time (even though it might be killing you) and hire the absolute best. You do not have to compromise and you need to have a rigorous process in place for sourcing, attracting, recruiting and hiring.

-Nitpal Guliani