Sales for Startups: Hiring and Personality
Plenty of folks have chimed in already about sales people and hiring for startups. When do you hire and what type of salesperson you need for when and whether you need a sales person or a business development person. There is no lack of advice when it comes to hiring salespeople.
But the thing that keeps coming up in conversation after conversation is this idea of the prototypical salesperson. Many folks are looking for a particular personality and assume that the best salespeople are naturally gregarious and outgoing and boisterous.
They want someone that appears outwardly social and assume that such people will have wide webs of relationships and engage easily with people. In short, they are looking for the classic networker type. But you know what they say about people that assume too much…
I have worked for and with numerous types of salespeople over the years. The one thread that connects those experiences and I came away with is that there is no one type of sales person that is most effective. There is no prototypical salesperson, but many different types, and each type thrives or struggles depending on the circumstances and environment. Some are better in an inside sales role selling over the phone, others better in person.
Some are better at selling tactical solutions while others are more attuned to strategic selling. And in the same way there are many different types of sales people, each salesperson has his or her own unique personality that often times does not ascribe to our notions of a typical sales person.
Personality does not give you much insight into who to hire. It might help for matching up to the company culture, but it has no correlation to actual results. I have seen salespeople who are borderline manic and others that are painfully quiet. Some are outgoing and others are shy, Some like flashy things, others are more down to earth. Some are incredibly organized and others swim in chaos. The thing that connected all of these reps was the fact that they got results.
So my advice when hiring for sales would be to focus on results. It does not have to even be directly related to quota carrying roles, but any situation where a candidate took the initiative and did something significant from beginning to end. That is what you really want from salespeople, that they can take the initiative, have a get things done attitude, and do not easily give up.
Those are not outwardly discernible traits however, so you really need to dig deeper on what they have done and can do. When you look at results, that is what helps you get a clearer picture on the things that do matter for sales success.
This article was written and published by Mark S. Birch, on Strong Opinions blog.
Mark S. Birch is an NYC tech investor & entrepreneur, CRO of @Enhatch, and author of Strong Opinions blog: Random thoughts from a NYC entrepreneur and investor about start-ups, technology and the people that make it all happen.