7 Ways Startups Can Hire Better Salespeople
Sales teams are known to have a high attrition rate. According to Tomasz Tunguz, “It’s common to see sales attrition rates of 25%-50% annually”.
Yes, you read that rate. Some sales teams replace a full quarter to a half of their sales team each year.
For startups, this number can be terrifying. Hiring the right salespeople is hard enough without having to worry about losing them a few a months down the road. As a startup, you also can’t rely on recruiters to find qualified candidates for you.
So how can startups effectively recruit salespeople while, most importantly, recruiting the right salespeople?
Use AngelList for Recruiting
If you are not using AngelList for sales recruiting, you’re missing out.
It’s a great resource, built to connect startups with investors and founders with employees.
What makes AngelList different from other job boards is that the candidates on AngelList want to work at startups. They understand how working at a startup is different from a traditional job and are looking for jobs with more than just a big salary.
This also means it also cuts out all of the potential hires who don’t want to work at startups, which saves you time. But it’s about more than efficiency. With culture fit being so important for startups, and especially sales teams, you want to connect with the right people, and AngelList makes it much easier to do so.
Take Referrals Early and Often
Referrals are the best source of qualified sales candidates.
That’s why it’s surprising that sales leaders don’t invest more time into getting referrals from their sales team.
The best way to collect referrals is to start early. When you make a new sales hire, schedule some time with your new team member to go through their network and see if they know anyone who would be a good fit.
Building a pipeline for referrals gives you a curated set of qualified candidates to pull from when it’s time to hire, without having to pay recruiters or sift through applicants.
Always Be Hiring
Don’t have any open positions?
That’s no excuse to put the hiring process on ice. Your startup will grow, and you’ll need exceptional people to keep it on the right trajectory. Build up a backlog of potential hires, and update it regularly with new information.
Maintain a presence on LinkedIn, and use it to cultivate connections. Get out in the real world and network, too.
You will need to hire in the future, and keeping a backlog allows you to identify solid fits as soon as a position comes open.
Highlight Training and Development Opportunities
Startups are especially appealing to people who want to learn and grow.
That’s great news, because those are exactly the sort of people you should be seeking out. They’re more interested in growth opportunities than trying to draw a big salary from the jump.
To attract these people, highlight your training and development programs. The substance of your programs is important, of course, but so is your enthusiasm for development. If you’ve invested a lot of resources into your sales training program, highlight that in your job descriptions.
Record a Video to Show Your Culture
What’s it like to work at your startup day-to-day? Does your team enjoy working together, and delivering results as a unit? You do like to have fun sometimes… right?
Video is an increasingly popular format for addressing these questions. It’s one thing to tell a potential hire about your team dynamic, and quite another for them to see it in action.
Ideally, you want to include some candid video of your team at their best. An overly scripted video will often have the opposite of the intended effect.
Hire Remotely to Expand Your Reach
You’re searching for the best, so why limit yourself to one geographical area?
Hiring remotely allows you to target the best available talent, regardless of location. It’s a flexible option, so it will appeal to your potential hires, too.
Startup engineering teams are embracing remote work more and more, and sales teams should be no different. Just make sure you have the necessary technology and process in place first. Hiring remotely only works if you have the infrastructure in place.
Talent and Potential First, Experience Second
It’s a common story. You’re fresh out of college, full of enthusiasm and ready to grow professionally. Then you start looking at job openings, and 90 percent of them require experience that you don’t have.
Some companies avoid hiring fresh talent. You should not.
Experience is useful, but lack of experience shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. In fact, hiring seasoned sales reps might even be bad for your startup.
You’re looking for talent most of all, and people who are willing to grow with your startup. Inexperienced hires are usually hungry, and eager to learn. Talent and potential trump experience when hiring for startups.
Finding excellent employees is always a challenge, but putting the right process in place is half the battle. The first step is knowing what you’re looking for, and where to seek it out. In many ways, the interview process for startups is a two-way street – you’re being interviewed, too.
Show off your culture, development opportunities, and vision for the future. The stakes are high, but hiring great talent is the surest way to put your startup on the path to success.