Expert Advice for Your First Month in Startup Sales

Selling for a startup company is a hustler’s game. Salespeople at startups  face challenges that don't exist in the corporate ranks: you may have to build your company’s sales process from scratch and manage the entire sales funnel—from lead generation to customer retention. You may have to sell a product that doesn’t exist yet, or validate a market/ industry with few resources or support from other industries. A sales role at a startup or scaleup company also demands an integrated approach—working directly alongside marketing efforts to ensure a cohesive customer journey. These many demands make sales for startups plenty challenging. If you're new to the gig, there will undoubtedly be plenty to learn.

As our summer sales course nears it's close, our sales and account management students will soon be starting new jobs in startup sales. We turned to some of our sales instructors and alumni for words of wisdom on how to make their first month on the job a success. Here are their top six pieces of advice:

[bctt tweet="How to crush it in your 1st month on your #startup #sales job, by @zimmerbugg"]


You need to be in full-on, 100% sponge-mode.

Stay late every night. Introduce yourself to everyone you can. Become a power-user of the product itself. Bring a notebook with you everywhere and generate a list of questions to check in with your manager on daily/weekly.

Jacob Kreimer, Strategic Partner Development Manager at Twitter; Startup Institute Boston alumnus

[bctt tweet="Your 1st month on the job, you need to be in 100% sponge-mode, says @jkreim"]


Just keep doing the same thing every day, and eventually it will pan out! Sales can be a roller coaster, and the more you're professional and stick to at least a rudimentary routine, the more you can maintain control over your day and your pipeline.

Also, find someone who will help you celebrate small wins- a boss, coworker, partner, anyone who understands how important it is to maintain a positive attitude even when things don't go your way.

Katya Siddall, VP of Business Development at Syndio; Startup Institute Chicago instructor

[bctt tweet="New to your #sales team? Find someone to help you celebrate the small wins, says @KatyaSiddall"]


Admitting to prospects that it's your first month and you don't know everything yet. However, you can get them the answer. Trying to BS your way through objections is going to lead to all sorts of problems. 

Nick Persico, Co-Founder/VP of Sales at Smart; Startup Institute NYC instructor

[bctt tweet="Admit to #sales prospects if you're new—many respond to honesty w/ empathy - @NickPersico"]


Roll with the punches. Most startups don't have structured training and on-boarding programs. Chances are you will be drinking from a fire hose. Roll with it. Pull energy from the fast-paced, dynamic and ambiguous environment.

Kevin Baumgart, VP of Sales at HireologySales for Startups blog; Startup Institute Chicago instructor

[bctt tweet="You'll have to drink from a fire hose at a startup. Roll with the punches, says @BaumgartKevin"]


Sales is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes a lot of practice, discipline and persistence. You can't control whether or not someone is going to need what you are selling, or if they are going to say "yes." All you can control is your own behavior

Dave Fischer, President/Owner at Sandler Training/Chartwell Seventeen Advisory Group, Inc.; Startup Institute NYC instructor

[bctt tweet="#Sales is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes discipline + persistence, says @SandlerDaveNYC"]


Practice. Get familiar with the product and sales processes. Get in there and do it. Stop worrying and just do it.

Selim Nehdi, Partnerships Manager at MassChallenge UK; Startup Institute instructor

[bctt tweet="1st month on the #startup #sales job? Start learning and doing. @milesbackward "]

Photo credit: emma.kate via Flickr cc