The dream of anyone in sales is to get in on the ground floor of the next big thing, which usually means working for a startup. It’s easy in theory, but getting hired by the next Wave Accounting is a little different than applying at an established organization.
First, you’re not the only one with that idea. Second, your gamble might not pay off. However, if you’re looking to shake up your career, we’ve got some advice for getting hired at a hot startup.
Come With Big Ideas…
The ability to drive revenue will always be important in a sales role, but startups need more than just an individual contributor. Even if you’re not going to be the next VP Sales, you need to think bigger than your quota. And you shouldn’t be limiting your thinking to sales strategy.
Partnerships, new features, marketing strategies; these are just a few of the areas you can offer ideas and input. They might get shot down, but in an environment where everyone wears a dozen different hats it’s essential not to lock yourself into a silo.
And Execute Them!
Be prepared to own your best ideas, because you’re probably going to be running with them. That doesn’t mean learning to code because you had a great feature idea, but it will probably mean working with the developers to make sure everyone is on the same page.
You may also need to be your own marketing support when it comes to building collateral and presentations. It can mean stepping outside your comfort zone – and the occasional failure – but the rewards go far beyond the trip to Hawaii you get for hitting 115% of quota at enterprise organizations.
Play Well With Others
Startups aren’t all air hockey and bean bags, but they do involve smaller teams and a flatter structure. How your personality jives with the rest of the team is going to play a big factor in whether or not you get the job, so try to get a feel for what you’re walking into.
If the company is visible in the local startup community this can be as easy as dropping into the next meetup or hackathon as part of your research on the company. If they’re not, you’ll just need to ask a lot of culture-related questions if you get an interview.
Settle For Lower Salary
You’re gunning for a job with a hot startup because the long term earning potential is greater than the corporate route. However, that means in the short term you’ll likely have to take a hit to your base salary relative to your current role. It’s the reality of a VC-backed or bootstrapped organization, so don’t take it personally.
On the flip side, the long term earning potential we mentioned comes from the incentives that startups often offer to make up for the lower base salary. Stock options, uncapped commissions or even an equity stake are all possibilities and that only factors in the monetary benefits. Great culture and working from home can also take the edge off a lower base salary.