13 Traits Startup Sales Executives Need to Be Successful

When it’s time to build a sales team, there are traits you need to look for in your employees. Selling a product isn’t just about closing the deal, it’s about building relationships for your startup along the way. We asked 13 entrepreneurs what they look for in a sales executive.  

They Are Persistent

A good salesperson will sell their way into the job. She will follow up. She will be persistent without feeling like a pest. She will win your heart and mind through logically constructed thank-you’s and follow ups that you will feel compelled to respond to with niceties. A good sales executive won’t give you another option to consider. – Ross Resnick of Roaming Hunger

They Are Organized and Likable

2015-08-31-1441055286-9664407-DarrahBrustein.jpgPeople often do business with people they like. This gets you in the door. From there, it takes someone who is persistent (this is different than aggressive or pushy) and who is organized with following up and sales information. This combination of qualities generally leads to a successful salesperson who can be taught about the specifics of your product or service. – Darrah Brustein, of Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids

They Create Value

2015-08-31-1441055318-2108594-JoshuaDorkin.pngA good salesman makes a sale. A great salesman creates value. A top salesman gets referrals. The most important thing to look for in a prospective salesexecutive is a history of positive feedback, seemingly endless referrals and a vast network. Look for an executive who helps every client achieve their goals and that knows how to turn the client’s network into clients as well. – Joshua Dorkin of BiggerPockets

They Are People-Focused

2015-08-31-1441055372-2631646-VanessaVanEdwards.jpgResearch has found that top-performing salespeople have a very specific combination of personality traits. They tend to be more people-focused, have a high tolerance for risk and, interestingly, a more pessimistic inward orientation. Assess your current top performer’s personalities, and find candidates who match. – Vanessa Van Edwards of Science of People

They Hustle

2015-08-31-1441055405-1752810-StanleyMeytin.pngYou want your salesperson to be all-in and care about your brand and product just as much as you do. There is no such thing as a 9-to-5 salesperson. The right sales executive is prospecting 24/7, constantly helping you grow and build your brand. – Stanley Meytin of True Film Production

They Are Empathetic

2015-08-31-1441055509-2140392-DaveNevogt.pngSales executives have to be able to identify with the people they’re speaking to, feel what they’re feeling, and make them feel respected. This is just as true for customer relationships as it is for motivating sales staff. As an executive, they’ll also need to be a role model of empathy to inspire the same quality in their team. Being able to listen and establish rapport with anyone is key. – Dave Nevogt of Hubstaff.com

They Are Resourceful

2015-08-31-1441055639-7072927-JaynaCooke.pngResourcefulness is the trait that I look for in every single one of my employees. I look for people who come across a problem and figure out how to solve it on their own using the resources around them. I also look for my sales execs to be hungry for the sale. If the company makes it, then they make it. I want someone that will take responsibility in all aspects of the business aside from sales. – Jayna Cooke of EVENTup

They Are Passionate

2015-08-31-1441055699-1661942-JasonLa.pngAn ideal sales executive is an experienced communicative extrovert with excellent written and presentation skills. But an ideal sales executive for a startup must also be passionate, because they need to have the gumption to tackle the unique hurdles that come with working for a startup. Also, a sales executive who brings his or her own business contacts to your startup is definitely advantageous. – Jason Thanh La of Merchant Service Group

They Don’t Fear Rejection

2015-08-31-1441055766-225899-BlairThomas.pngAnyone can learn sales with the proper training, but there are those individuals who have that “secret sauce.” They have an inherent likability and charisma that allows them to speak with customers on a level that engenders respect and trust. Those traits, coupled with a fearlessness to pitch without worry of rejection, is a winning combination. – Blair Thomas of EMerchantBroker

They Value Alignment

2015-08-31-1441055920-4442223-ChristopherKelly.jpgA sales executive is going to have to lead, inspire and motivate finicky sales talent, and he will usually have to do so under pressure and in a quickly changing environment. You can teach, train and manage a lot of things, but values alignment is something that they need to show up with out of the gate. – Christopher Kelly of Convene

They Are Flexible

2015-08-31-1441055851-6832476-ShradhaAgarwal.jpgDuring the early stages of your company, your process and goals change frequently. Bring on sales executives who are passionate about your startup, but nimble enough to adapt to change and continue to execute. – Shradha Agarwa of ContextMedia

They Can Work Independently

2015-08-31-1441055967-7891415-MarkDaoust.pngAs your startup grows, you’ll run into new scenarios that you didn’t anticipate. Having a sales executive on the front lines who is competent to make independent, smart decisions and communicate these clearly to you will help you grow your business faster through efficiency. – Mark Daoust of Quiet Light Brokerage

They Are Well-Rounded

2015-08-31-1441055996-8081843-maryellenslayter.jpgIn a small, fast-growing organization, team members are often asked to wear multiple hats. Yes, your sales executive should be primarily concerned withsales. However, they shouldn’t be shy about jumping in to work on product development or brainstorming marketing campaigns as needed. – Mary Ellen Slayter of Reputation Capital

Read more advice from founders about building a team at TechCo
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Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC members generate billions of dollars in revenue and have created tens of thousands of jobs.
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