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There are 3 key questions to ask yourself before even thinking about making your first sales hire.

  1. Have you found product-market fit? Meaning, do you have one person who actually wants to buy what you are selling.
  2. Do you have a big enough market that warrants a sales team?
  3. Have you tried selling the product on your own for an extended period of time?

Hiring A Sales Rep

If the answer is yes to all of the above, you may be in the right position to hire your first sales rep. But, where do you find someone that can do the job, and more importantly, give feedback to the people building the product so that you know what to build? Since this is a very unique set of skills, here are a few attributes you should look for in a sales rep:

Are they scrappy? To be the first sales rep at a company, they need a GSD attitude. Their role is really to handle a lot more than just sales. They are the first line of communication with the customer and will also be responsible for supporting those customers.

Are they coachable? You don’t want someone who feels like they have all of the answers. In the startup world, you really need someone to question how you execute each sales process, what questions you ask, and how you build trust. They have to be open to developing and changing the way sales are done, not stuck in their ways.

Do they have prior success? This does not always mean that they were the number one sales rep at their last company. Success comes in many different forms, so make sure you explore this area in depth. It can be something along the lines of winning a championship in college football or being on a team where they contributed to significant growth. Being a team player is part of creating a successful business.

Do they fit the culture? Can they pass the one-hour hangout test with the nerdiest guy on your engineering team?

Do they have passion? Check to see if their interest is with themselves, or if it is with the company and the team. A team player will bring you much more growth than a self-interested sales rep.

If you can find someone who has all of these attributes, you should hire them immediately. Good sales reps can be hard to come by and are often self-motivated. Meaning they are most often money (w2) driven and once they are on the elevator to big commission checks it is hard to get them off of it. They can also be stubborn in the sense that they really do not like to change. But an early sales team has to be willing to roll with the punches and be up for change.

How have you found success in building your early sales team? Leave us a comment below.

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