Talent is hard to find. Good sales talent is harder. Perhaps the hardest is the person who can be successful as the first Sales hire at your B2B tech startup—those we call Pathfinders.
We have found Pathfinders are individuals who have the right combination of vocational and deep skills that will enable them to succeed as your first Sales hire. [Deep skills are those enduring human qualities that provide the deep foundations for success.]
To identify Pathfinders we have developed an online assessment and rules engine that tests candidates for both the requisite vocational and deep skills. These include components, such as the ability to deal with ambiguity, that are considered ‘must-pass’. Scoring high across the board but failing a must-pass element will lead to the classification of a candidate as a Non-Pathfinder.
But where to find them? We have written before that your Pathfinder can be someone who crashed and learned along the way. While most founders assume that years of experience in a given field is the Golden Ticket to their dream first Sales hire, we have found that many times that isn’t the case. And, on cue, McKinsey has just released a report asking, “Are you searching the right talent pools?”
The report highlights that the Great Resignation continues, with 40 percent of employees planning to leave their jobs in the next 12 months, and how that presents you with new opportunities to get Pathfinders into your hiring queue.
There are three major trends that McKinsey found for employees looking for a change:
Reshuffling: Employees are quitting and going to different industries. Globally, only 35 percent of those who quit in the past two years went to same industry. This gives you an opportunity to find people that want be part of a startup business that might be new to the industry—hungry, willing to learn, and do the hard work to succeed.
Reinvention: Many people are leaving traditional employment, with some choosing to become gig workers or take part-time sales roles. If you only need a part-time salesperson to start—or that’s how you want to test it out—this presents another opportunity.
Reassessing: These people are leaving not for jobs, but to focus on other areas of life. If you provide a great work-life balance or flexible work arrangements this presents another opportunity for you to find talent.
Remember, the key here is to look for those with Pathfinder characteristics meaning the requisite sales (and marketing) skills together with the mindset to be successful in this particular role. This is not necessarily someone who has “Sales” in their current job title.
- 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.
Here are some other tips and best practices to add Pathfinders to your hiring queue:
- Look inside your organization. Is there someone there that might be the right fit?
- Ensure that your job posting is not just a list of tasks, but includes the Pathfinder job skills.
- Encourage applicants outside of traditional Sales roles.
- Ensure your job posting can capture the largest possible appropriate audience (e.g. don’t be too prescriptive about what you think you need).
- Work with us at The Right Five to help you find the candidates that have the strongest Pathfinder profiles along with other skills you need.
To learn more about how The Right Five can help you get your first Sales hire right, please contact us here.