Three things to look for in your first sales hire

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Steli Efti is the CEO and co-founder of Close, a CRM with built-in sales automation features for startups and SMBs. He is a Y Combinator alum and an advisor to startups and entrepreneurs.

This is the second of two posts Steli has written for Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub offering advice about when and how to hire your sales team.

You can find the first post here: Three signs it’s time to start hiring sales reps

Your first sales hire sets the tone for your future sales department. The right person will bring in new business for your startup and help increase revenue. The wrong person will lose sales and sully your company’s reputation—all while collecting a fat check for their efforts.

These are my top tips for ensuring that you find the right fit for this key role.

1. Hire a sales rep, not a sales manager

Make sure your new hire knows how to sell. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many startups interview sales candidates who can manage sales reps, not make sales themselves. Don’t join that crowd.

The employee you recruit should have extensive sales experience in your market. They should also be a curious individual who can handle constructive criticism. These qualities will help them learn everything they can about your offerings, and continually improve their skill set.

2. Hire an employee who wants to learn

I strongly suggest hiring a sales rep who enjoys the learning process.

This kind of employee will be happy to study your startup’s products/services for hours, learning every detail so they can answer prospects’ questions confidently.

A thirst for knowledge will also inspire new hires to learn and implement new sales strategies. Customers are hard to pin down, and the tactics that worked yesterday might not work today. The most successful sellers are those who adapt to current sales trends.

3. Hire a great seller who fits your culture

Finally, look for a talented individual who fits the vibe of your startup.

Remember, there are tons of skilled salespeople out there. You need to hire a willing contributor who understands and connects with your startup’s mission. They should also be a person your team enjoys spending time with and understands your target market.

Hiring for culture may seem a bit woo-woo to you; I get it. But, I’ve seen it happen. If your first sales hire doesn’t fit your culture, you’ll end up going through the hiring process again.

The right salesperson will supercharge your startup

Whether you’re in SaaS, fintech, healthcare, or another industry altogether, your first sales hire is crucial to long-term growth. Remember, a salesperson isn’t just someone to make cold calls and handle inbound leads–they’re the first step to helping your startup reach the next level of success.

When the time comes, hire a hardworking sales professional willing to learn and grow with your company. Doing so will help you achieve success. Good luck!

Close is one of several trusted partner benefits available to members of Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub. Members can receive $2500 credit towards any of Close’s subscription plans as well as free migration or import assistance and access to the Close sales library.

For more resources for building your startup and access to the tools that can help you, sign up today for Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub.

Tags: Close, hiring, sales team