Over the past few weeks I’ve received an uptick in requests foradvice on building out a sales team. More startups in the community arefinding product / market fit or are past product / market fit and are in the process of building a repeatable customer acquisition machine.
Oneof the first things I recommend is to hire a sales assistant to support one of the founders as he or she learns what works, anddoesn’t work, first hand.
Once the first 50 customers have beenacquired, and things are looking good, it’s time to make that firstsales hire.
Here are the top five mistakes entrepreneurs make hiring sales people:
- Culture Fit – Never settle on finding team membersthat fit the core values and culture of the startup. Too often, startups get desperate to fill a position and start relaxing standards. Don’t do it.
- Lack of a Clear Plan – When a sales person startsit should be crystal clear as to what’s expected of them in terms ofrole, metrics, and quota. The best sales people are self-motivated andwant to know expectations.
- Commission Complexity – Whatever the system forcompensation, human nature is to game it and optimize for what’s bestpersonally. As an entrepreneur, the best solution is to keep thecommission policy incredibly simple and straightforward. If it can’t fit on one sheet of paper in simple bullet point form, it’s toocomplicated.
- Cap on Commissions – In the fastest growingstartups, the top sales people should make more money than the CEO, andthat’s a good thing. Never put a cap on commissions as sales people need to stay focused on what they do best — bringing in revenue.
- Unrealistic Expectations – Top sales peopleshouldn’t be expected to hunt, farm, support, and exceed quota all atthe same time. Sales people should be empowered to do one thing and doit exceptionally well. Limit the number of responsibilities and createrealistic expectations.
Building a great sales team is one of the most difficult challengesfor an entrepreneur. Moving quickly, having a clear plan, and being very hands-on is one of the best ways to do it. Regardless, don’t make these five common sales hire mistakes.
What else? What are your thoughts on the top five most common sales hire mistakes?