5 Key Attributes to Being Successful in a Startup Sales Job

Author: Cronofy

29th November 2016

Working in sales for a startup is as close to entrepreneurship as you can get without starting your own business. I mostly enjoyed working in the sales departments of large and well established organizations, but I got fed up with the politics after a few years and decided to try something new. This is why I now work in sales for Cronofy.

Right after I finished university, I went to work in sales for Oracle then moved to another sales position at SAP. Both companies have tens of thousands of employees worldwide, thousands of them working in sales. I’ve always thought that I’d end up in a tech startup or do my own thing but I first wanted to hone my skills in big corporate organizations. When Cronofy started recruiting to fill their first fully focused sales role I was ready to make the jump and I haven’t looked back in what have been 6 very busy months.

When I joined the team at Cronofy it became 8 people strong. I was the only full-time sales person, which was both incredibly exciting and really terrifying at first. In that transition from very large to very small, I found that I have been relying on 5 key attributes in order to be successful in my new role…

1. A strong sense of direction

In larger organizations, processes tend to be well defined and inflexible. Take onboarding new hires for instance. Usually a formal training program with clear learning objectives, and completion timelines is in place to ramp up the fresh hires. Not so in startups. Training here (processes, product, sales, culture etc) is largely self-driven and it’s easy to get lost. You need to show up with a good sense of what you need to learn to get the job done.


2. Ability to work autonomously

Managers in startups usually wear many hats and have a lot on their plates and no time for hand-holding. It is expected that previous experience prior to joining the start-up honed some self-management skills. So a good sense of direction coupled with personal motivation to succeed will breed impressive results in an environment that values autonomy. The way I think about this is if you really want something to get done then make the time to personally do it.

3. Importance of teamwork

Although self-reliance is a crucial skill, you still need help from people who are also very busy. For instance, I can’t respond to an enterprise-level RFP all by myself so I have to enlist the help of my more technical colleagues. That requires collaboration and respecting people’s time. A good way to ensure smooth collaboration is to ask your colleagues upfront their expectations of working with you and that should lead to some form of SLA. We also use Slack a lot at Cronofy. It is a great way to exchange ideas stay in touch with the team even if we don’t see each other every day.

4. Managing time efficiently

Staying on top of daily tasks seems to always be a race against the clock. Even on the best day, you still feel like something was left undone. There is so much to get done and not everything is going to be pure sales which means sometimes doing work you are not familiar with and that can eat into your time. So prioritization is crucial and one way I get ahead is by asking myself, “What is the one thing I need to get done today before I leave the office?”.


5. Thinking for yourself

This is perhaps the most exhilarating and challenging part of working in a startup. Prior experience gives you pre-conceived ideas of how things should work. Those ideas sometimes clash with the reality of working in a startup like Cronofy where everything moves so quickly and every idea is challenged. The ability to question why you do things a certain way will drive meaningful conversations with high impact and will help prioritize tasks that really move the needle.

If you stick to these 5 attitudes in addition to old school hard work, you’re setting yourself up to hit the ground running when you join a startup, especially in sales. Are you working in sales for a startup? Did you make the transition from a big company to a startup? I would love to hear what makes you successful. Don’t hesitate to reach out on Twitter!

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Date: 29th November 2016 | Category: Cronofy