Tech Startups Should Not Be Hiring Sales Reps From IBM

Hiring Sales Reps

First, I want to ensure the readers of this blog that I am not prejudiced against IBM. It just serves as a large recognizable name that is interchangeable with any large established tech company. It is also convenient as the old IBM sales strategy is viewed as Sales 1.0 in the great read, Sales 2.0.

This blog is meant to be a guide for successfully hiring sales reps. It was inspired by a couple of recent events. I have been working with a client that hired a Director of Sales from an established company. He recently left the company and as they looked back in hindsight, they realized he was not a good fit. The other was an excellent blog from April Dunford titled, Why Your Startup Shouldn’t Hire a Marketer from Microsoft.

Before you hire that successful rep from a large established tech company consider the following:

Not Many Leads: They Need to be Proactive

One of the challenges of being a startup is that people are not aware of you and leads are not yet flowing into the company. The sales rep will need to aggressively leverage existing contacts, but will also need to cold call. Do they have expertise with this? Is it something they want to do?

Can’t Use the Company Name to Get an Appointment

Your company will not have the same profile as an established tech company, which means they will need to work harder with outbound sales efforts.

Small Expense Accounts

There will not be budget for Leaf tickets on the glass at the ACC for $400 a pop, large trade shows, golf at expensive courses, or frequent business travel. They will need to leverage tools like webinars and conference calls instead of face-to-face meetings. When they do meet face-to-face it will need to be planned out well in advance to keep costs down and involve as many prospects or customers in a close geographic proximity.

Use Social Media

They should have experience using social media as part of their sales efforts. I have found that startup companies will do this significantly better than more established tech companies. Sometimes social media is even banned from being used at work.

Not the Right Mix of Sales Strategy and Hands-On

The average sales rep from a large enterprise will not have experience working on sales strategy. They have not had input into their sales compensation, creating a value proposition, or aligning a limited marketing budget to the sales effort. Conversely a sales leader from a larger firm may not be able or want to make a cold call or attend networking events.

They Are the Sales Team

The sales person you hire will need to be the team. There may not be resource available to help with meetings or to qualify a prospect. They will need to be daring enough to do these things on their own. They may have come from an environment where they had technical resource and product specialists available for them.

The key to hiring your early sales resource is to understand what they will need to do to be successful and ensure that the expectations are the same with your candidate. To learn more about us, subscribe to our monthly newsletter.