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TCV Insights

How to Find Winning Sales Talent in a Competitive Environment

Updated: Jun 27

By Jackie Luo, TCV Growth Associate:

Currently, with the “great resignation” affecting all industries, it is particularly challenging for startup businesses to hire good talent, including sales associates. Successful execution of sales is critical for scaling a business, however, in a highly competitive labor market, startups face headwinds in attracting new hires, as candidates are evaluating many factors such as salary, benefits, training, and remote work policies.

But startups shouldn’t be discouraged. True winners are often relentlessly looking for an environment where they can maximize their earning potential. They are looking for opportunities with faster growth, which will give them unlimited commission potential. Beneath the “great resignation”, there is a wave of “career re-engineering and re-imagining”. If you are a startup business with a great growth potential, the right question is not whether you can find the right talent. Rather, it’s whether you can identify the winning candidate.

So how to find the winning sales candidate that will propel your growth?

I believe there are 4 key qualities in a winning salesperson for a startup business:

Innate drive to win. If you want to win, you must believe you can win. Without a winning mentality, you are doomed to be mediocre. Like Napoleon Hill said, “If you like to win, but you think you can’t, it is almost certain you won’t.” That’s why some companies target athletes for their sales training program. We can quickly teach new hires on products and services, but we can’t teach them to develop a winning mentality overnight.

Critical thinking. This is essential for building the connection with prospects. Can the candidate quickly identify the prospect’s pain points and root causes? Can they quickly identify the key decision makers and understand their motivations for finding a solution? Can they propose a solution to address all key paint points?

Curiosity. Is the candidate eager to learn new things? Can they proactively develop the learning plan in the first 2-3 months? Can they take constructive feed back?

Organization: To achieve a high sales close rate, a candidate must be disciplined, following a process that involves repeated follow up with qualified leads. Sales statistics suggests that in B2B sales, it takes on average 7 to 8 touches to close a sale. A lot of salespeople give up after 2 or 3 touches. Successful salespeople all have a process that automatically keeps them on the track to nurture leads from the start to finish, minimizing risks or leakages along the way.

If you notice, “experience” or “relevant industry expertise” are not on the list. I believe these are less relevant when hiring sales associates for startups. Although these keywords are pretty much standard for all position descriptions, whether the hiring company is a startup or an established business, they might have been obstacles for startups to find the true winning talents.

If you are a startup CEO trying to attract winning sales talents, you must differentiate yourself among all the employers competing for talent. So don’t write a job description that looks the same as everyone else’s. Rather, focus on the key qualities, and attract the right talent that has the best odds to achieve the sales growth potential for the business. Don’t just look for someone who has many years of experience in the same industry, look for someone who possesses all the 4 key qualities.

That’s why I believe even in this competitive environment, rapidly growing startups can win in the talent war. You just need to think creatively and position differently.

If you are interested in learning more or having a conversation about sales and marketing for your company send an email to


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