Most startups suck at Hiring Salespeople. This is no secret!!
Since most founders have little or no experience on the sales floor, many of them end up hiring the wrong people. Sadly, they end up regretting it.
The bitter reality is: A startup is not like any other established business. Real growth in a startup space means
working with a strong group. A group that believes in the vision of the Founder. It requires a lot of dedication, a disciplined and a go-getter personality.
Unfortunately, these are not skills that every salesperson may have.
The truth is, it is not easy to move from selling automobiles at a corporation to selling software or other services at a startup. No matter how hard one may pretend to cope, such a shift is difficult and very few salespeople can manage to do that and profit.
Finding the right people is a challenge. And, for startups, it could be one of the worst experiences that no one would wish to find themselves in.
This article discusses the top 8 qualities you need to look out for while Hiring Salespeople.
1. Great Storyteller
People love stories and hence every salesperson should be a good story teller. They should be able to inspire and persuade their audiences with stories that will pique their interest.
A lot of salespeople lose sales when they underrate the role of story selling in sales. Telling stories is an art only known to and perfected by few. But, just telling a good story is not enough. Success requires that the sales person also understands the product they intend to sell.
The story should finally shed some light on how product X solves the prospects problems and possibly better than how product Y does it. The salesperson might as well need to look at what the competitor is offering and weave their story around the superiority of their product. That is what would enable them to come up with a powerful story that clicks with the prospects.
2. Active Listener
You don’t need another selfish sales rep who is only good at talking about themselves or their product. Sales is not about the seller. It’s about the buyer.
##The prospect is the always the king. A salesperson is just like another servant proposing a solution to a king’s challenge##
That means the salespeople need to be highly disciplined not to offend the king. A sales person needs to be an active listener. Rather than thinking out the next question to throw to the prospect, the focus should be to understand the prospect. If there must be questions, they need to be relevant and insightful and should address the needs of the prospect. See this video from TED Talk by Julian Treasure on “5 ways to listen better”.
3. Effective Time Manager
Time is a resource. Every start up desperately needs it. Now, to make the best of your time, you need to put in place effective time management.
If the founder hires someone who can’t tell a bad lead from a good one, then such an hiring is meaningless. This is because such salespeople will spend a lot of time pursuing bad leads, which is not good for business.
Whereas a good sales rep will sort through leads to find the most promising ones, instead of wasting a lot of time on leads that clearly will not convert.
A start up needs someone who can make the best use of the available resources to make the most of the limited time resource. Thus if someone can use analytics to identify the characteristics of the ideal lead – business size, industry, etc – and use that information to bring in more sales, then that a person to go for.
4. Objection Preventer
Preventing objections is not as easy. Most salespeople never succeed in doing it. Hence, a lot of them end up leaving lots of money on the table.
The reason is that success is not dependent on merely “Objection Prevention”. Great sales representatives understand that this means mastering the art of “proactive objection prevention”.
This means a good sales rep will not just look at the basic objections that the customer may have for the product. They must have effective people skills that will help them to proactively approach the specific objections the customers have and hence close the sales.
The process of the sales should not get to a situation where the customer can say something like “We currently don’t have a need for this.” It’s very possible to be proactive and address a common objection, even before it comes up. A good salesperson will pre-empt a certain objection during a “discovery call” by sharing what your product can do for them better than what they have.
5. Post-Sale Relationship Manager
Repeat customers form the bulk of your customers. Before you flex your muscles to acquire new customers, understand that a good sales rep needs to ensure that he or she has retained your customers. It is so painful losing the customers you have labored hard for into hands of your competitor. That’s suicide for your business.
A start up needs someone who can establish a good relationship with previous customers. Now, for a sales rep to achieve this feat, he/she needs to have sound post-sales engagement skills.
6. Hard Worker
Another attribute of a good sales person is that they don’t slack or back off in the face of a challenge. They are highly dependable and believe in getting the job done, no matter what. That means they can set their own goals and purpose to all what they have set-out to do.
Any candidate that fits a description of a hard worker who likes to get things done, and on time, that is a person to go for. One way of picking a go-getter from a crowd is through asking them questions like:
“When did you set yourself high goals in life?” “How did you walk through that mud of challenges to achieve the goals?” “Did you back off from pursuing those goals?” “How do you make yourself feel motivated to soldier on?”
It’s one thing to set up a goal. But, achieving the goal is completely a different thing. A candidate who sets tough goals and also achieves them is the perfect one for a Startup.
7. Easily Coachable
[Tweet “Well-coached salespeople consistently trump the competition. #fact”]
Just like technology evolves every day, so does the sales environment. To succeed, we need to keep up with the new changes.
There is the hard work part, then there is the self-starter attitude. But, among all the other things, a good salesperson should be ready to learn and a quick learner. To keep up with the changing business environment, a startup founder should always hire someone who is easily coachable.
To achieve that, the sales leader needs to put the candidate through a brief test – taking roles.
The sales leader takes the role of a prospect while the candidate should deliver a sales pitch. Let the candidate sell something like a like a watch to the prospect. Finally, both of the participants should reflect on the roleplay.
Point out the things they did so well and those areas where they performed poorly.
If the candidates are unafraid of their weaknesses and open to correction, that’s a coachable person who should be retained.
Otherwise, if they react defensively, that is a great sign that they are rigid and may not be able to come up with the regular changes in the sales environment.
8. Passionate Seller
Sales is not easy. It needs commitment, dedication and a lot of learning. The problem is that the human mind only absorbs what appeals to it.
If your sales candidate is not interested in the kind of work you do, not matter how experienced they are, chances are they might end up being a liability to you. That would be another headache that will unnecessarily dent the founder’s purse. Also, Salesperson should be able to close deals in tough situation. Here is the example of Don Draper from movie “Mad Men”.
It makes more sense hiring a mid-skilled candidate who is passionate about sales and specifically about your company.
To establish whether these are a good bet, asking them these questions may be helpful:
“Why are you in sales?” “What makes you excited about this company?”
The thing is, a sales rep might love all things automotive – all the muscle cars, the little sweet beetles or the crazy auto-fests that made them feel giddy. And, they would also be very good at selling autos.
But when it comes to selling software, they might have it hard telling how, for instance, SalesHandy (one of the most advanced sales engagement tool) can help you drive sales or increase conversions.
Nothing about running a Startup is easy. And getting a good sales rep for a Startup is more difficult. Many are the times when the founders regret picking someone with a very impressive CV only to find that they cannot even sell a sweet to a kid. This means that a lot of time and resources were wasted and no returns to show for it. Anyone that needs to see their start up make a cool transition from a period of sales exploration to superb sales execution, they need to be wary of who they entrust the sales ‘docket’ with!!
Related Article: 14 Must Watch Inspirational Movies for Every Salesperson