How to recruit someone to help make sales on a commission basis?


I would like to get someone with me full time with good sales experience and contacts in my industry to help me get sales going but I don't have the budget to hire a sales guy? I expect your answer to be "do it yourself" but I have challenges with that and its not my strong point and so I acknowledge that I need someone more experienced to work with.. but how can you get someone to work with the pain of a start up to get it over the hump with nothing but yourself and your contacts to make sales? Where do you find a person like this?


asked Apr 20 '10 at 06:09
484 points
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  • You can usually find commission sales positions listed on craigslist, some display all the information others if you email they'll reply with their payment structure – Anagio 12 years ago

3 Answers


My advice - sales people, particularly out-of-office/commission-based guys, do best when they have a concrete, well-defined, ready-to-market, "complete" product - not a 'start-up' product.

In my experience, commission-based sales people don't typically want anything to do with the "pain of a start-up" - they want easy, straightforward money. For non-sales positions, the compensation for the "pains of a start-up" is equity. Making a gross generalization, sales people are usually not as interested in long-term equity as they are in making big money now.

Ask yourself "what products that are similar/complementary to mine do my customer purchase - who do they purchase them from?". Or better yet, ask your customers / contacts. Or explore the distribution channels in your industry. There may be a distributor who is hurting right now who would love to add a new product to their pipeline. Now, distributors have their own host of problems too...

At any rate, in my experience the reason people tell you to 'do it yourself' is two-fold: (1) you need to understand this function and make revenue one of your day-to-day priorities... or someone on the mgmt team does, and (2) the good sales people are making a lot of money, with much less risk, elsewhere. Unless you can offer them massive upside (either through huge commissions, high base salary, or lots of equity [and show how that equity will be worth something relatively soon]), they won't be inclined to take you on. And most start-ups (like yourself) don't have the funds or aren't willing to give us massive equity for a sales person. Thus, they end of doing it themselves until they hit a point where they can afford the right type of person.

The final thing I want to mention is that it will be extremely tough for you to make a 'good hire' of a sales person if you yourself don't know how to sell and aren't familiar with it. Hiring good sales people is one of the biggest challenges to any start-up, in my opinion.

Hope something in the above gives you some value!

answered Apr 20 '10 at 11:08
111 points
  • +1 all the way. Sales people want to execute something clear, not find the way. – Jason 14 years ago


Do not try to transfer your responsibility for your product to other people.

In this case a salesman would have to figure out the unique value proposition, find best channels to approach customers and so on. And what kind of work would be left for you? Development? A business owner (startup) is not only an engineer, but a salesman also.

If you don't do sales (at least at first) you are not building business, you are just developing a product. And business as opposed to a product generates profits, whilst a product can be subsidized.

And I completely agree with Corey - it is vital to learn how to sell.

answered Apr 22 '10 at 01:51
Kirill Blazhko
393 points


I've been looking at craigslist to find folks - you'd be surprised who's out there. However, don't expect super-high quality folks in the process. Hiring on strict commission can be difficult but that's the price you'll have to be willing to pay if you don't want to do it yourself.

I'm in a similar predicament myself. :-)

answered Apr 20 '10 at 11:17
64 points

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