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5 #fails to avoid when hiring startup sales talent

If you've tried to hire startup sales or biz dev talent in the last 12 months, you've probably how seen how hard it is to find rock stars, and even harder to find affordable rock stars. Even recruiters say finding top sales talent is harder than finding great engineers. That’s why it's more important than ever to know what to look for when hiring. Having interviewed hundreds of salespeople, I wanted to share 5 mistakes I've learned to avoid.

Don’t Assume Great People Can Build Great Sales Teams: Strong individual contributors often fail as early sales hires. Why? The skills required to hustle and sell are very different from those necessary to put in place replicable processes and structure. Not everyone is good at both.

Don’t Get Excited by Cheap Salespeople: Like it or not, most salespeople are motivated by money. Finding good sales people is like finding a needle in a haystack. Finding good and cheap salespeople? You have better odds spotting the Loch Ness Monster.

Don't Hire a Rolodex: Each time I’ve ever hired someone because of who they know I’ve been disappointed. Connections are nice icing on the cake, but understanding how to generate large volumes of leads is far more important when it comes to generating sustainable sales.

Don’t Have Unrealistic Expectations: Even the best salesperson is still a single person. Be thoughtful in putting together aggressive but realistic targets. Don’t demoralize (and/or ultimately fire) great staff because of unrealistic expectations.

Don’t Cap Commission: Great salespeople are often motivated by the limitless earning potential. Capping commission is an easy way to cap your growth.

Interested in free advice on hiring great salespeople? Feel free to shoot me an email at I’m happy to chat.

By Matt Listro, Founder, Harbinger Strategy

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