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Build a Sales Machine from the Ground Up - Michelle Wetzler of Keen IO →

Thanks to, this article will be dedicated to sales hiring. There’s a Github event this Wednesday, and an engineer from favorited my tweet. Well, this caused me to look at his background, his company, his company’s blog, and then this specific blog entry. I thoroughly enjoy Michelle’s blogging style. Consider me a blogging work in progress.

Michelle’s bullet points give a decent overview of what the team is looking for: someone who is familiar with building a process, hungry, tech saavy, a closer, a student-teacher, fearless/can take rejection in the face and not afraid to keep getting rejected, self-sufficient, and let’s not forget, willing to take the leap for low up-front $$ in hopes for future successful exit and $$.

Here are some other ideal characteristics and practices for a first sales hire: social, metrics driven, loves engineers, looks to build relationships over making a quick sale, documents everything, multi-tasking machine. Athlete or history of competition/team-building? Great.

When I joined the 10-person engineering team + CEO as the first sales hire, there was almost no process and automation tools in place to support a lean sales team. I was wasting my time Ctrl+C Ctrl+V-ing my Spam mails, and digging around for the right point of contacts on and LinkedIn for my next Cold Call. After a couple weeks of chaos and putting out fires, we stepped back and whiteboard-ed the whole sales process.

We identified the sales tools and integrated them all: Salesforce for CRM, Marketo for marketing automation, Zuora for subscription billing, our analytics app for sales insight, Jira for PM feedback look, Zendesk for Customer support, Google for email and Drive, Skype for group chat. Then we made sure the team was aligned when it came to company language, process ownership, and customer care.

Customers are the most important asset to any business, so it was critical to make sure we keep improving the process, get customer feedback, and be accountable. Whether you’re the first salesperson, or first 1-10 sales people, you will have to work your ARSE off.

I could write a blog article about each one of these points in the future..

  1. Confirm the company values. What kind of customer experience would best express your mission?

  2. Identify Customers: Targets, pain points, most effective communication channel, lead gen

  3. Process: Internally (free or paid systems, workflow and handoffs) and externally (end-to-end customer lifecycle)

  4. Constant evaluation: Feedback loop, Data data data, Areas of growth, Budget for scaling and investing

Here are some interview questions for hiring early sales reps:

  • Tell me about yourself.

  • Tell me about your current sales process.

  • What do you know about our organization?

  • Why are you leaving your current job?

  • What are your career goals?

  • How have you influenced building your sales process?

  • Of all your work in sales, have you been more successful servicing clients or developing a new territory? Why?

  • What makes a quick sales process vs a long sales process

  • Examples of each and challenges overcome?

Best wishes and GL selling!!

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