The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten on Smash Notes

The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten podcast.

December 31, 2019

Unfiltered insights and actionable advice straight from the trenches of startup and business life. The show hosts, Steli Efti and Hiten Shah, are both serial entrepreneurs who have founded multi-million dollar SaaS startups. Being busy CEOs of fast-growing companies, they know the value of your time and make sure you get the most out of each 22 minute episode. Tune in for new episodes every Tuesday and Friday.

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In this episode, Steli and Hiten talk about sales hiring. Salespeople require a specific skillset that may be difficult to quantify and assess from a hiring perspective. Sometimes, it’s best to just see them perform. But, as this is not always possible, listen to find out what you should be looking for in a salesperson and the key indicators that can point you to a great, potential candidate for your team.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:38 – Hiten says sales hiring is an interesting process

00:47 – “It’s a lot different in hiring marketing”

00:52 – How do you know if a person is going to be good in sales? – “You don’t”

01:15 – Steli has hired a lot of salespeople, but he can never say he’s hired a great salesperson

01:33 – There are indicators, but the only way to truly know is to work with somebody

02:02 – Ask certain questions or test prospective hires in certain challenges

02:37 – Sales is based on performance

03:50 – You only know somebody is good when you observe them work

05:07 – Steli reserves his judgement until he works with a person for at least 3 months

05:48 – “Alot of sales people are incredibly inconsistent”

06:40 – Look for signals through observation

07:00 – It takes a while to know a salesperson’s capacity

07:45 – Steli has 3 categories for salespeople: people who are great in selling, people who are great in selling themselves as salespeople, and everybody else

08:10 – People who are not good at sales will not be very convincing

09:17 – Most people who are hiring for sales do not have a lot of experience in it

10:00 – Another factor to consider is how easy it is to get them on your team

10:42 – “If somebody is too easy to hire, they are probably not that good in sales”

11:17 – “If you are in sales and you’re great at it, you’re not looking for a job”

11:58 – Ideally, startups should not hire people who have a long sales career already

13:37 – The best channel to get salespeople is to look at your network

14:16 – You could hire an outsourced provider

15:25 – “Who is somebody you know that could be amazing at sales, but would never want a sales job?”

16:34 – Hire somebody who has the traits you’re looking for and train them

17:43 – Before hiring anyone, ask yourself this key question, “Do I want to buy from this person?”

18:36 – Want to know more about sales hiring? Check out Steli’s working copy for The Sales Hiring Playbook and enter the code thestartupchat to get access

19:04 – That’s it for today’s episode!

3 Key Points:

There’s no way you can know if a person is good in sales unless you see them work.

Indicators to knowing whether a sales hire will be a great salesperson are not 100% accurate.

Before looking outside to hire a salesperson, begin looking at your own network for possible hires, first.

Resources Mentioned:

The Sales Hiring Playbook – Steli’s book regarding sales hiring

Steli Efti: Hey everybody, this is Steli Efti.


Hiten Shah: And this is Hin Shah, and today ... what we're going to talk about is Sales Hiring. It's probably going to be me, be me rapid-fire asking Stali many questions I can, because I know he's still a knowledge on this topic.


Steli Efti: Let's go.


Hiten Shah: First of all, on the sales side ... I've hired sales people ... it's definitely been an interesting process, scaling a sales team is also an interesting process. Mostly because it's a lot different than hiring marketing in my experience. I'll start off with the first question on my mind, which is: how do you know that sales person is any good?


Steli Efti: Yeah. That's probably the number one question I get when it comes to hiring sales people.


Hiten Shah: Awesome.

Key points in this episode

In this episode

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