Terry Gold has posted some good advice for startups considering taking on their first sales person. He describes two types of candidate you should be on the lookout for:
Candidate A: “the New VP spends a lot of time thinking about Positioning. They talk about Executive Selling, Leadership Alignment and Developing Value Propositions. What they probably won't talk about during the interview or after being hired is how many phone calls they are going to make to new prospects every day.”
Candidate B: “the best sales people jumped right in soon after they arrived…on the phone and planning visits pretty quickly. If they are too afraid to make the calls then they may not have what it takes. The successful people were quick to admit that they weren't experts…and the successful sales people don't try to fake it with customers.”
It struck me these profiles could just as easily describe the “personality” of the startup itself….
Startup A: spends a lot of time at the whiteboard optimising the model, writing the business plan, identifying the target market and planning for growth. It waits until the sum of its knowledge and understanding exceeds its fear of failure.
Startup B: builds rather than plans. It achieves understanding through action. It gets something together, puts it in front of its customers and listens.
Who would you hire…?