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Sales hiring made simple-an exclusive guide for b2b startup founders

For the founders of a B2B startup, the first few steps towards growth are perfect planning and it’s successful execution.

Once that’s done, and you have financially stabilized yourself, it’s time to spread your wings wide and hire sales experts for reaching the peak of success.

An extra pair of hands means new ideas, more creativity, and increased productivity.

Sales professionals are an asset to a company so hiring them is a crucial step that needs to be taken wisely. On the one hand they can dramatically boost the revenue of your company but on the other hand hiring wrong sales personnel can even jeopardize your business.

So, the question that arises here is how you should hire the right sales people?

To help you out, below I have listed few essential points that will guide you in your sales hiring:

Step 1 – Before hiring, get in the field and check what’s working

You need to step forward and present your product on the sales ground before you hire sales reps to do this job.

Think from a sales rep’s perspective for having a better understanding of the sales scenario.

  • Analyze and understand the market, your target audience and the sales challenges to lead the team you hire on the right path.
  • Define a proper sales process to follow.
  • Start customer journey mapping to gain a better understanding of the clients.
  • Identify the obstacles and be prepared with the right sales tools and techniques to address them.

Step 2 – Define your criteria

What are your expectations?

Create an ideal candidate profile to understand what are you expecting from the sales personnel.

To avoid hiring mistakes, have a clear outline so that you can stay on track and bring the right talent on-board.

Below is the checklist of characteristics that you can refer while creating your ideal candidate profile:

Good listener

For startup sales success, you require someone who can listen to the prospect’s business issues and present your product as a solution to their problem.

Only when they listen, they will be able to uncover important information about the prospect and provide a good buying experience.

To ensure they are a good listener, test their listening skills by briefing about your company and ask a related questions to see how attentive are they to details.


Sales for a startup is tough and the difficulty level escalates where sales reps give up easily.

Often sales reps tend to abandon a prospect after first few calls.

Salespeople need to be persistent for converting a prospect into a customer.

So, drill deeper with relevant questions to understand if the candidate possesses the quality of persistence. Consider talent mapping as a subtle compass, guiding you to candidates with an innate capacity for persistence in the realm of startup sales.

Level headed

Impulsive sales reps can not only ruin an opportunity but also spoil the business image as they are the face of the company.

Salespeople shouldn’t retaliate angrily to a criticism instead take it positively and work on it.

While interviewing a candidate, put them in a situation where they need to deal with criticism to see how they tackle it.

Passionate towards selling

Salespeople need to be passionate sellers.

Otherwise they will find this job mundane and uninteresting.

Only when they are passionate, they will willingly learn and adapt to new technologies and techniques.

For example, if you plan to implement a sales CRM in the future, your sales reps need to use it regularly to leverage its benefits.

A dedicated sales rep will show interest in learning and adapting the CRM to improve their sales performance, unlike some sales personnel who look at it as a time-consuming task.

Test the candidate’s sales knowledge to determine their interest in their job.

How much can you spend on the sales resource?

Figure out the amount you can afford to spend on the sales resources; this help in determining if you can target a fresher or an experienced sales professional.

More the experience higher will be their salary expectation.

However, in some cases, candidates with few years of experience are ready to work at a low package if they can see a career growth with your company.

Create a job description

To add clarity to your hiring process, create a precise job description to give the candidates a hint of what their job and responsibilities will be.

Analyze your sales process and create the points accordingly.

Research and browse various job portals and online resume examples to find job description for similar roles.

Below are few points you can include while creating the job description:

  • Capture high potential leads to build strong sales pipeline.
  • Engage with prospects and build lasting customer relationships.
  • Address customer’s problems and queries.
  • Maintain records of customer contact and account updates.
  • Meet and give presentations and product demo to prospective clients.
  • Create proposals.
  • Analyze competitors by garnering insightful market-related information.
  • Prepare and submit sales activities and results reports to keep the management informed.
  • Meet or exceed revenue targets.

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Step 3 – Explore your networks and social media sites to get in touch with candidates

As a startup you cannot afford investing in a recruitment firm to find candidates, so act smart and tap your networks.

Connect with your friends, acquaintances, former co-workers and ask for references.

Social media is the best platform to meet naive and experienced sales professionals. Make Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter your medium to reach the right talent. Register for free on various recruitment portals to get in touch with candidates specializing in your industry.

Step 4 – Hiring process

Below are the various stages of a hiring process that will lead you to the ideal sales personnel.

1st Stage – Review the resume

Based on the criteria you have set above, review the resume and check if the candidate is worth your time.

Few points you must ponder over while reviewing the resume:

  • Check the industry experience and educational background.
  • Scan the resume with relevant keywords that matches your job title and description.
  • Ensure the language and tone is right as well as there aren’t any grammatical error or typos.
  • While screening the resume, pick the points you want to discuss in the interview.

If you find the resume appealing call and schedule the interview.

2nd Stage – Meeting candidate for a face to face round of interview

As the candidate is applying for the post of a sales personnel, you need to ensure he/she is confident and has a good command over their language.

The candidate must have good conversation and convincing skills.

Know as much as possible about the candidate by asking relevant questions to understand if/she is the right fit for your company.

Below are the questions you can ask to the sales rep:

  • Why have you chosen sales a career?
  • Have you consistently met your sales goals?
  • What makes you a good salesperson?
  • What do you find interesting about this profile?
  • How will you tackle a customer’s objection?
  • Can you handle criticism?
  • Are you up-to-date with your target market?
  • What information do you look for before connecting to a prospect?
  • What are four qualifying questions you would ask the prospect?
  • When do you stop pursuing a prospect?
  • Explain how do you approach a sales process?
  • What motivates you to sell?
  • At which stage of the sales process do you normally get stuck?
  • How long do you take to close a sales deal?

To test the selling skill, take a mock call ask them to sell any product like a pen or shampoo to you.

It will help you in understanding how good the candidate is at his/her job.

3rd Stage – Evaluate the candidate

Based on the answers and performance in the mock interview, evaluate and score the candidate.

Consider the below questions while evaluating the candidate:

  • Does the candidates’ skill set align with the role?
  • How good is their conversation skill?
  • Is the candidate confident?
  • Did the candidate demonstrate the ability to convince prospects?
  • How good is the candidate at facing rejection and criticism?
  • How was the candidate’s attitude?
  • Did the candidate demonstrate problem-solving ability?

4th Stage – Offer and hire

If the candidate seems promising and meets all the criteria, then you go forward and present an offer.

Once the candidate accepts the offer, confirm the joining date and ask for the necessary documents.

Step 5 – Take small steps

Don’t rush into creating a big sales team or spend huge amount in hiring a sales head.

Take it slow, first hire two to three sales executives and train them.

Identify their strengths and weaknesses to understand what’s working and where do you need to improve.

Points to check:

  • How effective is your sales process?
  • Are sales reps your hired contributing to your revenue growth?
  • Do they require any technical assistance?
  • Where are they lacking?
  • Are they able to meet the quotas?

Once they are on track and things seem positive with good profit margins you can think of expanding your team.

This is the time when you can think of hiring a sales head to manage the team and implement new idea for increasing the revenue growth of your business.

Step 6 – Hiring a sales team head / manager

To take your startup to unprecedented heights, you need to start focusing on other aspects of your business and hand over the sales to an expert with experience.

Sales head are the crux of a successful sales team.

They can not only help in optimizing the sales process but also aid in expanding the sales team.

Being experienced in the field, they can select and bring the best talent on-board as they know what characteristic to look for and whom to hire.

Hiring a sales head is a necessary as they can:

  • Ideate and come up with unique sales strategies.
  • Keep track of the sales rep’s performance.
  • Create recruiting and training processes.
  • Ameliorate the sales flow.
  • Guide the sales reps to meet the company’s sales expectations.
  • Ensure the monthly and quarterly target is met.

A good leader can drive the team in a lucrative direction. So, you need to be extra careful while hiring a sales head as you wouldn’t want to see the task of handling a sales team returning to you.

There are few factors that you need to consider while hiring a sales manager.

The ability to hire

A sales head needs to be skilled in taking hiring decisions.

He should be able to identify the right candidates as his wrong decision can add to the cost of the company without giving them any ROI.

So, check the experience history to ensure the sales head has managed a large team and is able to identify as well as hire the right professional who can drive sales.

Process oriented

Till the sales head in not on the right track he cannot guide his team in closing the deal.

Being a sales honcho, he should be able to develop and follow a proper sales process to increase conversions.

Without a consistent methodology it will be difficult to monitor the progress of a deal and spot the hindrances in closing it. With a standard process everyone in the team will be on the same page while describing the status of a deal.

Proficiency in training sales reps

Just hiring the right talent is not enough, training them to meet the company’s sales goals is necessary.

The sales head must have adequate product as well as market knowledge and should be well versed with various sales techniques to train the sales reps.

This means preparing them with mock calls, helping them in getting a better insight of the product and training them in identifying and closing opportunities with a proper sales process.

Ability to forecast future opportunities

The sales head should be able to forecast sales to anticipate future opportunities and needs.

They should stay up-to-date with sales-related information of their team to provide estimates.

Based on the details of past and current performance, they should be able to do predictive analysis to anticipate closing possibilities, spot associated risks and build strategies for addressing the issues at the right time.

Questions to ask while interviewing a sales manager:

  • What is your approach to building a sales team?
  • How will you deal with a sales rep who misses his/her quota for four months in a row?
  • What are the factors that can negatively impact sales?
  • How will you train your sales rep?
  • According to you what motivates sales rep the most?
  • How do you put across negative feedback?

Once you bring a sales manager on board, it is his/her responsibility to expand the salesforce as per the specific needs to increase sales.

Step 7 – Hiring VP of sales

In the further stages of your busines, you will grow exponentially.

You might have a strength of 25 plus sales reps.

This is the right time for bringing an authority above the managers who holds expertise in sales.

The VP should have experience in the similar domain and an impressive background with sales achievements.

The Vice President of sales :

  • Ensures the revenue engine is successfully running.
  • Creates and execute strategies to help the company meet its business objectives.
  • Formulates the sales compensation plan.
  • Contributes to the bottom line of the business.
  • Helps sales teams in closing big deals.
  • Ensures the sales team is provided with the training, resources, and system they require.
  • Prepare sales reps and leaders for sales managerial position.

Questions to ask while interviewing a VP of sales:

  • How should we evolve the sales strategy as the business grows?
  • After three months what will our company’s revenue look like if we hire you?
  • Have you spent time understanding our company and its competitors?
  • How can you help us in beating our competitors?
  • What sales tool have you used and how did it benefit?
  • what will be your priorities for the first 120 days?
  • What changes can you bring to an organization?

Hiring VP of sales is a costly affair but it is worth the investment if you wish to boost your company’s sales.

Closing thoughts

Setting up an aligned sales hiring process, at the early stage of your business is crucial to your long run. Take the right call and hire members in your team who have good sales experience.

You can even use Salesmate to manage and keep an eye on your hiring pipeline. Salesmate is one of the best CRM for startup that can influence all your business processes in a positive way and help you reach your goals efficiently.

You business’s growth depends on the sales professionals you hire in your growing organization.

We hope this article will guide and help you in hiring the right people.

Your sales talent needs an advanced tool like Salesmate CRM to manage their sales process and achieve their sales targets efficiently.

An end-to-end sales solution that helps sales reps in

  • streamlining customer’s information
  • managing their contacts and deals
  • tracking their sales pipeline
  • automating most of the routine tasks
  • creating insightful reports
  • integrating with various apps

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An avid writer who likes to explore new fields and research about interesting subjects. She is a versatile content developer who plays with words to express her thoughts. Calm, carefree and creative are the words that describes her the best.

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