It’s Not Magic; It’s Research

Steve LudwigPathfinder SalesLeave a Comment

person with wand performing magic

We want magicians. 

Our hope when we hire our first salesperson is that they will work magic. It’s not a realistic hope, it’s not even spoken out loud, and we might not even be conscious of it, but we want them to work their sales magic and make it rain money. 

It’s no wonder we are so often disappointed. 

Through our research, analysis, and experience, we have found that for a first salesperson at a startup to be great they had to be a Pathfinder. To find these Pathfinders, we had to look beyond far beyond their resumés. 

A B2B tech startup founder needs their first salesperson to find customers, grow those relationships, expand the market, provide critical intelligence into the marketplace and, ultimately, build a profitable, predictable, repeatable, and scalable sales process that can take the company to the next level. 

But all that capability is not visible on the surface, and it’s not always apparent when talking to references. 

This is incredibly frustrating. 

We have found that what makes a Pathfinder successful as the first sales hire is connected to an entire network of internal perspectives, attitudes, and approaches to work. You can’t see it, and it’s hard to get at in interviews – even for professionals skilled at interviewing salespeople. 

How do you find out that a person you are considering has those critical qualities before you hire them? 

We test for it. 

How is that possible, you may be wondering. 

We developed an online assessment and rules engine that classifies candidates as a Pathfinder, or not. Our tool was developed using thoroughly researched best practices in psychological measurement. The Right Five assessment measures for things like risk tolerance, dealing with ambiguity, and intellectual curiosity, among many others. 

After a candidate takes the online assessment, we automatically deliver B2B tech founders the right five Pathfinder salespeople to interview for their first sales hire, allowing them to get the right person hired quickly – which can make all the difference in the success or failure of a startup.

How are Pathfinders different? Their characteristics include: 

  • Hunger motivated by something quite different to most other sales types.
  • Excitement and willingness around building the processes and procedures necessary for a successful Sales operation to scale.
  • Ability to deal with and thrive 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. The vast majority of salespeople are totally dependent on this support to enable their success. Your Pathfinder is not.
  • Positive outlook that remains even when challenges arise. 
  • Curiosity that fuels creative solutions. 

Don’t get us wrong, other types of salespeople (playbook and strategic sales, for example), are incredibly valuable in the right setting, but are the wrong fit at this stage of company development. 

Those types of salespeople are probably coming from a big tech company and have a set of skills that are really important in their current role. However, we have found through experience, interviews, and research that those skills don’t translate to what B2B tech startups truly need.

To learn more about how The Right Five can help you get your first Sales hire right, please contact us here.

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