We like recruiters. We hate recruiters. It’s one of those relationships.
As founders of B2B tech startups, we tend to turn to recruiters to find our first stales hire because they have the capacity and the networks to bring you what you need when you need it.
Except, of course, when they don’t. Especially when it comes to a first sales hire.
The challenge with this approach is that recruiters have a lot of the same bias about whom that first sales hire should be: someone who is currently successful at an established firm looking to try their chops—and bump up their bank account—at a startup.
These people tend to be what we call Playbook salespeople. We cannot stress how important those types of salespeople are for established firms that have sales processes and procedures in place. And, we cannot stress of how bad those salespeople tend to be in a startup situation.
What is needed as a first sales hire is a Pathfinder. They have a unique combination of qualities that allows them 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.
Look, we get it. It’s not easy.
Ask around at your next gathering of tech entrepreneurs and you will hear stories about how a first sales hire bombed. A. Lot. Of. Stories.
As a tech founder, it is impossible to know everything about everything, try as we might. We have shared before that we have identified a series of common mistakes when it comes to the first sales hire:
- Not understanding the role of the first sales hire
- Unaware of the skill sets unique to the Pathfinder
- Faced with a stack of resumes, and being unaware of the skill sets, great candidates are missed
A lot of recruiters make the same mistakes and charge a hefty fee. And, there are a ton of opportunity costs for getting the first sales hire wrong.
Here is a bit of a sales pitch: Compared to recruiters, our process is dirt cheap. The Right Five costs less than US$1,000 per first sales hire.
We have codified the skills required to be a Pathfinder and developed an online assessment and rules engine that classifies candidates as a Pathfinder or a Non-Pathfinder. We screen them and send you five Pathfinders to interview so you can choose the one that is the best fit for your organization.
Still have questions about a Pathfinder? Think of them as the person who hacks their way through a jungle—literally creating a path where none existed. Pathfinders have a unique set of characteristics, including:
- 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.
- A willingness and excitement around building the processes and procedures necessary for a successful Sales operation as an organization scales.
- Curiosity that allows for creative solutions.
- A hunger motivated by something quite different to most other sales types.
Curious to know more about the assessment? Want to see if you are a Pathfinder? You can take the assessment here for free but make sure you check out the notes at the bottom of the post before you start. Your results are yours, we don’t share them with anyone.