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How to use sales people in startups  

Mark Suster on sales people:

Sales people:

  • Are motivated by cash. None of this namby pamby options stuff or "do it for the team - we're all in this together" crap. Cash, cash, cash.
  • Are more mercenaries than missionaries. That doesn't make them bad - it just means that they know that they are "hired guns" and they act accordingly
  • Many great ones don't thrive in the early phase of a company where the sales is more consultative or evangelical. They like a solid product, well defined pricing, good references to sell against, a clear quota and well defined competitors. This is why I tell startups that most seasoned sales execs aren't right for startups
  • They are as good at selling you as they are at selling your product to customers. That means if you don't understand the way they work you're susceptible to being blind sided.

Mark also covers a number of other points about being "gamed" by your salespeople:

  1. Sales people often blame the product, failing to understand that as a startup, people buy you, not the product.
  2. Sales people will often blame your pricing, when what they need to do is justify your price, rather than cut it.
  3. Sales people will often sell future development work, so cut their commission when they do that, so they don't have the wrong incentives.
  4. Sales people will often exaggerate the strength of competitors, so make your own competitor analysis.
  5. Sales people will always ask for more sales support, but wait until you grow before you specialise your sales team.
  6. Sales people will always tell you their quotas are too high, but that's just sandbagging. Set realistic quotas, but expect complaints anyway.
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Successful entrepreneurs find a way
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