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Ben Horowitz has some of the best advice I've ever read on engineers Hiring Sales People:

Stashed in: 106 Miles, Talent, Hiring, Startup Lessons, Engineers!, Awesome, Selling!

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Great line:

Applying engineering hiring techniques to a sales organization is like eating poison ivy to get more green vegetables. You will get the opposite of what you want.

I never once thought of poison ivy as a vegetable. But the metaphor is well chosen.

Not all organizations are the same, so hiring should suit the organization.

Read Ben Horowitz's whole post:

Solid advice from Ben Horowitz is to accept that you WILL make hiring mistakes:

Great engineering organizations strive never to make hiring mistakes as hiring mistakes can be very costly. Not only do you lose the productivity that you might have gained from the hire, but you might well incur severe technical debt. To make matters worse, even when an engineering manager recognizes she’s made a mistake, she’s often slow to correct it, leading to more debt and delay. In addition, building an engineering organization too quickly will cause all kinds of communication issues, which makes slow hiring in engineering a really smart thing to do.

On the other hand, you often can’t afford to build out your sales force too slowly, especially if you have significant competition. Sales people, when compared to engineers, work in relative isolation, so there’s productivity loss, but relatively little long-term debt or fast growth issues. Sales managers generally don’t have issues with firing poor performers, so sales people go fast. I have a friend who was fond of saying, “We have two kinds of sales people: rich and new.”

In engineering we get so unhappy when we have to fire someone.

Sales people see firing people as a necessary part of their profession.

That friend sounds an awful lot like Larry Ellison. That man knows how to fire (and hire) sales guys.

I guess if you practice at anything long enough you get really good at it!

I don't think the part about sales people working in relative isolation is correct. That's based on culture. Some sales people pair like programmers pair. Quicker to learn and get feedback on their processes. One person can jump in when the other misses something.

I'm intrigued. Any articles you recommend that explain sales pairing?

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