Startups Almost Always Get The Sales Thing Wrong

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Mar 18, 2021 @ 20:03 PM

startup

It's short article Friday.

According to NetShopISP, there are about 305 million total startups created globally each year and around 1.35 million of those startups are tech related.

Did you have any idea the number was that huge?

Typically, founders of start ups put it all on the line - everything - their house, savings, loans from friends and family and perhaps bank loans, angel investments and more.  As brilliant as they are, in most cases, sales is not one of their strengths and it's not until the business has a logo and a website when they realize that success won't come until somebody sells something.  Oh-oh, now what?

It doesn't take long for the founder to realize that they can't be the salesperson, especially when their experience is financial, marketing, operational, technical or mechanical.  When it comes to making their first sales hires, entrepreneurs and startup founders tend to be confused by their options and often make the wrong decisions.

"We want to hire our first salesperson" means different things to different people and most of the time, the founders don't have a clue what it really means.  They are often under the impression that their first sales hire will go out and sell their tail off, then become the sales manager, make a few more sales hires, and become the Sales VP. Then that individual would be expected to build structure, systems and processes, scale and grow enough revenue to flip the company.  

Nice work if you can get it but they couldn't be more wrong.

The person who wants to be the first sales manager is not the person who will go out and hunt for 18 months.  And neither of them - not the hunter and not the sales manager - is the person to lead the strategic growth of the company while building systems and processes.  Nine of ten founders fail to understand that we are talking about three different people, not one person that will quickly transition through three completely different roles!

If the founders get it, and adjust their thinking to embrace the three people concept, they must make a decision about the next challenge.  Since they don't have the finances or the revenue to hire all three of those people, they need to choose one.  Which one?

Invariably, they miss the boat and vote to hire the VP of Sales.  Bzzzzz.  While that hire makes them feel good - the sales VP joins the tiny executive team - that simply cannot be the first sales hire.  Somebody has to sell something and it won't be that person. The Sales VP will be in the office writing plans and creating strategy but there won't be anyone to execute the plan and the company will burn through too much money before they figure out that they may not survive to hire a hunter!  According to Investopedia.com, 90% of those startups fail!

At this point, even if the founder is still on board with the hunter as the first hire, there is another challenge to overcome; they must hire a hunter who will succeed, otherwise they are right back here at the starting line again in 90 days.  How can they assure sales hiring success?  Objective Management Group (OMG). OMG's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments take the worry out of sales selection by identifying candidates who will succeed in the role.  And they are guaranteed!  

Of course there are post hire challenges too, like who is going to onboard them, who is going to manage and coach them, and how long will it take them to figure out how to sell this stuff?  But that's for another day.  Rejoice in knowing that you just hired your first salesperson!

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, hiring salespeople, sales assessements, first sales hire

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

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