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Hiring your First Sales person

As a startup founder, you have seen the initial success in your venture. You have always wanted to hire a sales team and scale your business. However, the skills that you would need to hire and then to manage the sales person would be very different. This is because.. you might not have been a full fledged sales person in the past. There would be a lot of areas you will have to watch out for. Let us discuss a few of those..

When to hire your sales person?

As you would have heard it many times, the Founder has to be the first sales person.  You should go out, meet the customers and should sell. This is because of the following reasons..

  • You have got the feeling, you have sold, you know the process.
  • You may not know your buyers
  • You might not have a sales process

Without knowing the buyers and their needs, it is difficult for a sales person to make the match. This is because, the buyers would constantly be asking for too many changes in the initial prototype you would have made. The innate knowledge to convince the buyer on what is available or the decision making capability to take the call to change the product lies completely with you. You would not like for the sales person to keep coming back to you with lots of changes as suggested by your prospeciv customer, would you.

So, you would need to make the initial sets of sales, implement the solution, see through the implementation issues and make sure you do the right thing to make it work in your customers premises. This is the time when you would need to scale by having your sales person.

What to look out in your sales person

  • Past experience
    • It will be awesome if they come in with an experience of selling in a similar sized organization. Sometimes, a senior person taken in from a larger competitor may not work. They would come in with a systematic way of selling with adequate support systems that you may not be able to offer.
  • Similar Experience
    • It is ideal if they would come in with an experience of having sold something similar to what you sell. This will help them to adapt to understanding your capabilities faster and reach out to a market they are familiar with.
  • Complimentary Skills
    • It will be ideal if they come in with skills that are complimentary to that of yours. It will make a team that can work on each others strengths and can close more business.
  • Consulting skills
    • It is important that the sales person comes in with consulting skills when it comes to working for a startup. There is a fair chance that the buyers may not know the applicability of the startup solution to their business. There will also be a lot of resistance in working with a startup. Hence, the sales person need to know more about the prospects business. They should also ideate with them to give them adequate solutions.
  • Goal focussed
    • The first sales person should be very focussed on goals and not get carried away by the customers over suggestions. Their job is to find the right sets of customers who will buy the solution instead of going all over the place and trying to force fit.
  • Persistent
    • The person should be persistent as there will be a lot of rejections and objections to whatever they will sell. They should be focussed on their jobs and should continuously and consistently keep following up with the prospects till they find the right person and sell.

Where to find them

You can find the candidates across multiple sources. Let us talk about a few of those..

  • Referrals
    • The best source that we have found are the Referrals. This will help because these people will come in with the recommendation of someone. It will also be easier for you to talk freely and explain the tough situation you have. This will begin with a good understanding between the two of you.
  • Networking
    • As a Founder, you will have to constantly be networking with people. This will help you identify good sales people who you can court at some point of time to come and join you. Linkedin is a good source for you to find good talent and network with. Networking will get you interact with a lot of passive job seekers and you can talk to them about joining you.
  • Job Boards
    • The standard way of recruiting the sales people will be through job boards. Subscribe to a popular job board and reach out to people who are in the look out for jobs.
  • Agencies
    • There are multiple man power agencies that specialize in locating people for startups. They would have worked with multiple startups and would know the kind of people who will suit a startup in their early days. They might also be a bit economical as they would have price tags for startups.

How to hire them

You will need to have a screening process to hire the sales people. You might feel it a bit hesitant to interview and take the decision on hiring a sales person. You may not even be aware of how to evaluate. At this stage, you can have an advisor/mentor do the initial round of evaluation and you can then meet up with the shortlisted candidate as the final round of evaluation. You can begin with a phone screening where you can be upfront with your expectations and situations. You can also evaluate the skill fitment . You can then bring in the candidate to your office to meet up with your other team members to get a cultural fitment done. You can then hire your first sales person.


Going through this time tested process will help you get you off the ground with your first sales person.  Take the help of others as required to get you to hire the right person for your scaling of business.