In a recent blog post, I talked about how marketing and sales are pretty much the same thing for a startup given the resources and responsibilities. It got me thinking about the best characteristics for a startup salesperson. Here is what I think they need to bring to the table:
1. The willingness to work for a small, non-established company. It sounds straightforward but salespeople like selling, but working for a startup can mean trying to push a small rock up a big hill – without the compensation and perks. A salesperson needs to be excited about a startup’s ability to resonate with customers may have not know the product exists.
2. The ability to multi-task. In a startup, salespeople need to do a lot more than just sell. They have to do business development, marketing, customer service and administrative duties. In a sense, all of the above involves selling but in a different and indirect way. While salespeople like to be out there selling, working for a startup has to be a lot more.
3. Good listening skills. The products sold by startups are created to solve a problem but it doesn’t mean customers know they need or want them. It means salespeople have to listen as much as they speak, which can be a challenge. It means taking a soft sell approach in which a salesperson learns what a customer needs rather than what a salespeople wants to sell them.
4. Embrace the idea of being product developers. The one thing salespeople do is talk with potential and existing customers on a regular basis. As a result, they can get a good understanding of the problems or needs faced by potential customers, the products or features they would like to see, their budgets and the competition.
5. Be team players rather than lone wolves. While salespeople need to be out talking to potential customers, they also have to understand the different parts of the company, and be willing to get involved in other parts of the business. They need to have a willingness to accept recommendations and ideas from other people and, at the same time, be willing to bring their ideas and feedback to the table.