5 Challenges Startups Face When Hiring a Sales Team


When you are starting up a new venture, you will experience challenges. Some of these will probably be easy to solve such as choosing suppliers and implementing the right procedures to get the work done. But there will be barriers that are harder to answer.

One of the biggest problems startups face is hiring a competent sales team. Some commentators report that a bad sales team will lead to the business’ failure and with 90% of businesses failing within two years, bringing in customers is an essential task that must be done right.

So what are the five biggest challenges that startups have to endure in today’s modern world?

1. Corporate Culture

Whether you believe it or not, culture is developing within your startup. It is based on your team’s core values and aspirations. It might be that you are a friendly organization that likes to help others, but if your sales team does not share the same philosophy, then your customers are going to have different expectations to what is being delivered.

Not meeting customer expectations can upset the balance, and you may lose potential long term clients that can determine the success or otherwise of your startup in the future.

2. High Enough Returns

A significant proportion of your sales team’s income will be generated by selling to your target audience. If you don’t have the product, or you can’t provide strong enough information on the product to sell it to your sales team – their performance will be limited.

It can affect you in many different ways. Firstly, you will find that the best salespeople will leave your company because they can obtain better results elsewhere which can see greater rewards for them. Another problem is that your business won’t generate enough money to pay for other costs such as other staff, office space, supplies, etc.

3. Hiring Too Early

Another common problem for startups occurs when they hire the sales team too soon in the company’s life. In the beginning, your founders and other members of the senior team should be capable of managing the sales of the business and directing leads down the sales funnel.

Some advisors say that your company should not hire a sales person until you have at least another five employees who are doing other jobs, or when your team members are so inundated with sales tasks that they can’t fulfill their primary responsibilities.

4. No Experience / No Skills

Being a salesperson doesn’t require any official qualification or award. It means it can be hard to determine if the individuals you are hiring are right for your business and will achieve results. They might have done well previously, but they might not do so well in your organization.

It is why your sales team might have a high churn rate. The more people you lose, the higher the costs for recruiting and training staff.

5. Personalities

In a small organization where everyone knows everyone, personalities matter a lot for office harmony. However, those attracted to life in sales are often vastly different to those in other areas of the business. Managing these various personalities can be tough and can lead to high staff churn in not just your sales team.

A sales team is just as likely to be as friendly, but they are also likely to be very outgoing and confident – something that others might not understand.

A sales team that gets great results is fantastic, but not at the expense of poisoning others in your company. It’s a balance of those with talent, a willingness to improve and the right personality to fit into your culture.


Hiring a sales team when you start out is not as easy as just finding someone who looks like they can sell. There are other considerations for your business. Ensuring that these are carefully thought out can make the difference between your business being a success or not.

Have you hired a salesperson at a startup? What were the results?

Let us know in the comments below.

Take Action:

  • Educate your staff into the potential personality clashes that can occur when hiring a salesperson.
  • Create a cultural document detailing the core values of your business.
  • Reconsider at what stage you need to hire a salesperson.

Find out more about how a quality sales team can help your business here.

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