The Hidden Costs of Getting Your First Sales Hire Wrong

Steve LudwigHiring ChallengesLeave a Comment

the tip of an iceberg

As you are looking to make your first sales hire, a lot can be confusing. What can be lost in the rush to get the position filled and start bringing in more revenue is how dangerous a bad first sales hire can be. 

Think of a failed first sales hire as hitting an iceberg. On the surface, it’s no big deal. You got a hire wrong, quickly move on, and get the right person in the job and start over (assuming you’re well enough funded). That’s the 10% that is visible. However, it’s what’s going on beneath the surface that can cause real damage to the business. 

It’s both hard costs and opportunity costs—that’s the 90% you have to worry about. 

The hard costs are the staff time and the money on ads, recruitment efforts, etc., that are gone.

The opportunity costs are far greater. The energy you gave to the interview process, on ramping and training of your failed sales hire could have been energy spent meeting with clients, developing other team members, or expanding your offerings. 

The bigger opportunity costs in the lost time—you have forgone revenue that could have been secured and fed expansion, lost feedback from the market, lost possible new clients, and ultimately your ability to speed scale and success. Then there’s potential repetitional damage that could have occurred with a bad hire in the field. At the same time, your competitors have been given more room to expand and become more competitive.

That’s why we have developed The Right Five. A lot of times, B2B tech founders rush into their first sales hire and they are the wrong fit. The person is not a bad fit because they aren’t capable at sales, rather they have the wrong set of sales skills for where you are in your business journey. 

That’s why you need to hire a Pathfinder. As we have shared in previous blog posts, a Pathfinder is different than your “typical” salesperson and has the right set of skills and attributes to be successful in a startup environment. 

Of course, some characteristics and skills overlap between a Pathfinder and other sales types. These include understanding technology, positivity, communication skills and, obviously, the ability to close a sale. 

Areas where Pathfinders are different include:

  • their ability to deal with ambiguity, as many startups and their products quickly evolve,
  • not just a willingness but an 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. 

That’s why The Right Five automatically delivers you five Pathfinder salespeople to interview allowing you to get the right person hired right the first time. We know from experience, getting the right person in the right slot the first time, makes a huge difference for startups and their ability to succeed in a highly competitive market.

Don’t let the iceberg sink your ship!

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