A Very Particular Set of Skills

Steve LudwigPathfinder SalesLeave a Comment

finding a path through the woods

Kicking off the dust of stupid corporate politics and incompetent bosses. 

Early retirement.

Expensive cocktails.

Fabulous vacations. 

Having to worry about inheritance taxes and not raising entitled children. 

Ah, the daydreams of startup life. 

We get it. We’ve been down that road more than once. (And believe me, getting a reliable crew for both the yacht and the private jet is a pain.)

There are a lot of great reasons to start your own company or work at a startup. It’s exciting, you are boldly going where no one has gone before, you a running as fast as you can, your input matters, you can sleep when you are dead, gone are the days of being a wage slave, and you don’t have to deal with those mind-numbing Kafkaesque corporate procedures—because you haven’t needed them yet. (Oh, trust me, those are coming.) 

And, you know, getting insanely rich. 

The fantasy is that you will get in early, the company will be valued north of US$1 billion, and you will have to change your phone number and email so your friends and family can’t keep bugging you for money.

We don’t want to discourage you, feel free to follow your bliss (or greed) and all that. But, (you knew that was coming), there are some things to watch out for. 

One of the ways that people that are not code wizards, engineering gods, business visionaries, have a trust fund, or went to Stanford, think they can get in and score at the startup is through Sales.

There is a huge need for Sales in startups, the only way they are going to grow, scale, and get the angel, hedge, and investment funds interested is if there is a solid revenue stream connected to a great product or service. Salespeople make that happen. 

And, like a lot of other skills, sales skills are transferable between industries and companies. Or are they? It depends. 

It’s a personal question if you want to leave your comfortable corporate sales job at <enter big tech company here>. However, if you want to be the first salesperson at a startup, that requires a very particular set of skills (à la Liam Neeson).

You have to be a Pathfinder. Less than one in ten salespeople have Pathfinder skills, which are different from the more typical Playbook or Strategic salesperson. 

Playbook and Strategic salespeople are incredibly important, valuable, and indispensable to companies that are established, or at the very least, have some established sales processes. They are critical to:

  • Building sales channels
  • Managing sales teams
  • Product Expansion
  • Sector and Geography Expansion 
  • Working with Marketing 
  • etc. 

Pathfinders are different. They:

  • Have a strong ability to deal with ambiguity. The first Sales hire role is one without a Playbook and, by definition, such an early startup lacks the support (e.g. lead generation) of other later stage companies.
  • They have a willingness and excitement around building the processes and procedures necessary for a successful Sales operation as an organization scales.
  • They bring a curiosity that allows for creative solutions.
  • Their hunger is motivated by something quite different to most other Sales types.

Do you think you are a Pathfinder salesperson? Do you think you have those skills that can make you successful in that first sales role at a B2B tech startup? One way to find out, take our assessment. Seriously, before you give up your highly paid job in corporate sales, take our assessment.

What is this assessment we speak of? Through our personal experience combined with qualitative and quantitative research, we have created a proprietary sales recruitment technology process to make hiring that first salesperson for a B2B startup a success. 

At The Right Five, we automate the assessment of candidates and bring to tech founders five of the right type of candidates—Pathfinders—so they can choose the right one.  

We take the guesswork out of hiring that first sales role because we know a successful first sales hire can make all the difference in meeting business and growth goals.

But, the benefit of having such a role-specific assessment is not just with the client, it lies with the candidate too. So, if you’re thinking a role as the first Sales hire in a B2B tech startup is for you, take the assessment. It’s free. See what you find out. We promise not to sell your data to extended car warranty companies, times shares, or anyone else.

Some notes if you do want to take the assessment:

The assessment link takes you to this signup page…

A sign up form for candidates wishing to take The Right Five assessment

Because there is no client looking at the results (just us) you don’t need to upload your resumé, but you do need to upload a Word doc or PDF (of anything) to be taken to the assessment.

The assessment itself should take you about an hour to complete. It’s not trivial, nor is you giving up your well paid job to take on this role.

When you have completed it you will receive an email from results@therightfive.com within a few hours letting you know if you were classified as a Pathfinder or not. Please add that email to your spam filter to make sure you don’t miss the email.

If you then want to discuss your results in more detail, please reply to the email and we’ll set up a time with you for a detailed review.

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