Hiring Your First Sales Reps: When Is It Time For A Startup?

startup sales

We’re approaching our first full year at Ideal Candidate. We’ve learned a lot, had some success and also made some mistakes. As a co-founder of a startup, one thing I’ve been looking forward to the most is hiring our first sales reps. After all, we do provide a tool to help recruit salespeople.

We finally decided that the time has come and we’re going to document it all in a new blog series: the good, the bad and the ugly of our first sales hires. We’ll cover how we eat our own dog food to find candidates, what we do to prepare for them joining our team and we’ll follow their progress in the first 90 days on the job.

In this Part 1, I explain how we knew it was time to hire our first sales reps.

We (the founders) sold the product ourselves first

With paying customers, my co-founder, Somen, and I have been able to get a handle on the pitch, pricing and initial type of prospect we think our product is valuable to. Of course, these things will change constantly but we feel we’ve done enough ground work to hand over our sales process to a few dedicated sales reps.

There are better salespeople than me

I have something to confess: I’m not very good at outbound prospecting. Don’t get me wrong, I can get it done but it’s just not my strength. It becomes evident how much of a skill prospecting is when you see someone who’s really good at it in action. This isn’t just strictly “pounding the phones.” It takes time and skill to methodically plan out who you’re going to prospect and to execute on your sales plan. I’ve seen people do it better than me and now that we have a strong value proposition it’s time to put some of those people in place.

Sales is NOT a part time job

If you want to succeed at a startup, selling can’t be done only part time. Growth requires someone’s focus on sales 100% of the time. As a co-founder, I have multiple jobs in the office, and to be really successful at sales you need to focus all of your time and energy on it.

Creating a repeatable sales process takes time

It can take upwards of a year or longer to create a repeatable sales process. When you start hiring sales reps you will make mistakes. Someone will leave, your pricing may need tweaking, and a sales team will put pressure on your product development. If you don’t start making these mistakes and learning from them early on, you’re delaying growth and allowing your competitors to grab market share. Start selling and establishing your sales process as early as you can.

What’s next? In Part 2 of this series “Hiring Your First Sales Reps,” we’ll look at how we used Ideal Candidate to find our first sales reps.

Have your own startup sales hiring successes? Or failures? Share them in the comments below.

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Shaun Ricci

COO at Ideal
Shaun Ricci is a Canadian entrepreneur and the Co-Founder of Ideal. Shaun served as Co-Founder and COO of Field ID until it was acquired in December 2012. Shaun’s accomplishments include spots on the Profit Hot 50 and Deloitte Fast 50 Companies-to-Watch lists as well as the 2012 Ontario Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Shaun is also an active writer, documenting his wins and losses while building his startup sales team.

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