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How to Hire a Salesperson for a Startup Company

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If you own a startup that is growing quickly, it may be time for you to hire some new employees to take on some of your tasks. One of the most important employees you can hire is a salesperson.

However, your hiring decision should not be one that you take lightly.

Many small businesses fail in the first five years due to a lack of sales and your new business may be at risk as well, if you do not choose a Driven salesperson who is capable of consistently bringing in new customers.

Now, you may be wondering:

How can I find the best possible salesperson and convince them to work for me?

Keep reading and you will learn how to hire a salesperson for a startup successfully – even if you have no experience interviewing and hiring employees.


How to Hire a Sales Rep for a Startup

Use these best practices to find and attract the right salesperson.

When you are hiring someone who could potentially determine whether or not your business succeeds, it is important for you to take a strategic approach.

Here are a few ways you can find a good salesperson:

  • Ask friends, family and colleagues for referrals. Someone you know and trust may be able to recommend a salesperson who has a track record of achieving impressive results. Read this study to learn about the value of referrals in the hiring process.
  • Look on LinkedIn. Search for a salesperson who has experience in your industry. For example, if your startup sells technology services, look for someone who has a proven track record as a sales rep for a tech startup. However, be mindful that experience alone will not determine if the salesperson will sell successfully for you. (More on this later)
  • Place an ad on Indeed and Monster. Be sure you mention the fact that your business is a startup and explain what you expect from your salesperson.

You may also want to place a job ad on AngiesList, which is a job board full of startups looking for new candidates. That way, you know that each candidate you interview is ready to work in a startup environment.

Related reading: The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Sales Job Ad That Attracts Top Candidates


Keep in mind that experience is secondary to Drive and natural sales talent.

Oftentimes, a candidate who looks great on paper will produce disappointing results. On the other hand, an inexperienced salesperson with a less-than-ideal resume may be able to skyrocket your sales and push your startup toward long-term success.

Ideally, you will be able to find someone who is both experienced and naturally cut out to achieve top sales results. If that is not the case, you must always hire for Drive, talent and potential, rather than analyzing and relying on a person’s job experience alone.

After all, you cannot teach self-motivation and sales skills, but you can teach someone the ins and outs of your industry so he/she can sell your product.


Consider hiring a remote salesperson.

If you have a tight budget, as most startups do, you may not want to take on the additional expense of an office space. If that is the case, consider expanding the geographical reach of your candidate search by allowing your salesperson to work remotely.
You may worry that a remote worker will not be as productive. However, a study showed that remote salespeople close 30% more sales than traditional salespeople – a percentage that could make a huge difference in the success of your new business.

If you are going to hire a remote salesperson, make sure you have rules in place and communicate with the salesperson regularly. That way, you can keep track of their progress and help them achieve the best sales results possible.


Utilize a sales personality test.

Since choosing a salesperson is critical to the success of your startup, it is important for you to take the guesswork out of the hiring process. One of the ways you can do that is to task each of your sales candidates with taking a sales personality test like The DriveTest™, prior to the interview.

This assessment will help you uncover a candidate’s true potential by checking for Drive, which is made up of these three non-teachable traits:

  • Need for Achievement
  • Competitiveness
  • Optimism

When you know you have a Driven candidate with high potential to succeed at sales, you can feel much more confident in your hiring decision and avoid costly turnover.


Ask the right questions during the interview.

Do not fall into the trap of making common interview mistakes, including asking questions that fail to help you uncover whether or not a candidate is capable of selling successfully.

interview-questions-startup-sales-repInstead, ask strong sales interview questions like these:

  • Where do you not want to be in 5 years? By putting a new spin on a common interview question (“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”), you will force the candidate to think outside to box and uncover what he wants to avoid in his career.
  • What’s the toughest goal you’ve ever set for yourself? How do you plan to top it? A Driven candidate will have a specific challenging goal that he accomplished  and will be able to explain exactly how he plans to top it.
  • Which parts of your job as a salesperson excite you? Which parts bore you? A candidate born to sell will enjoy the difficult elements of the job such as the competition to win the customer over and the resiliency needed in the face of rejection. He will also relish in the achievement of closing a deal. A Driven sales candidate is rarely or never bored unless he is limited and not able to perform at his highest potential.

Remember to tailor the interview process based on your business and what you are looking for in a candidate, and always think about whether or not a candidate will be a good culture fit. That way, you are well-equipped to make a good hiring decision after the interview.

Related reading: 10 Unusual Sales Interview Questions to Uncover a Candidate’s True Potential


Implement an effective startup salesperson onboarding process.

Before you hire a salesperson, you should have a plan in place for their first several weeks on the job. Outline what you want them to learn and accomplish in their first 90 days and provide them with the resources necessary to meet or exceed your expectations.

For example, you may expect them to generate a specific amount of revenue during that time or close a specific number of sales. Whatever you decide, make sure the goal you set is realistic but challenging. Push the salesperson to achieve his maximum potential, but do not make him feel like your expectations are impossible to meet.
Hiring a salesperson for a startup can be tough, but you should be well-equipped to execute the hiring process successfully using the tips here. Take your time and make sure you find the best sales candidate possible – the longevity and success of your company may very well depend on it!


Sales Hiring Simplified!

Hire top-performing salespeople with The DriveTest®. Get started now with one free test.

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Sales Hiring Simplified!

Hire top-performing salespeople with The DriveTest®.

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