top of page

Boom or Bust? Managing the Sales Team in Your Startup.

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

In my previous post Make or Break? Hiring the First Sales Exec for Your Startup. I wrote about the importance of hiring your first 'rep' and gave you tips how to approach hiring the right individual.

Whether you hire a sales manager tasked with building a sales team or a single sales person getting revenue, you need to be able to manage that person to success and overachievement. Every founder needs to be a sales manager and the most successful rep on the team.

In this article I'll start with explaining some of the basic questions focused on management and motivating a sales person. Building a high performance sales team, like the Gartner sales organization that I know so well, is a subject of another article.

managing a sales team in a startup

When managing your sales executive in a meeting (this is often called a business review), it's important to have a clear understanding of actual achievement or progress against the objectives that you have shared with them. You will have a problem sooner or later when you did not state your expectations and objectives clearly.

  1. What are your current sales goals, and how close are you to meeting them?

  2. What strategies have you been using to achieve these goals, and which have been the most successful?

  3. Are there any challenges you're facing that are preventing you from reaching your sales targets?

  4. Can you walk me through your sales pipeline, from lead generation to closing deals?

  5. What specific steps are you taking to build and maintain strong relationships with your clients?

  6. How are you leveraging technology and tools to improve your sales process?

  7. Can you share any success stories or customer testimonials from recent sales?

  8. What are some areas where you think you could improve your sales skills or knowledge?

  9. What support or resources do you need from the company to help you meet your sales targets?

  10. How can we work together to ensure you are successful in your role and contributing to the overall success of the business?


Motivating sales people is an important process to drive performance. Part of your motivational process lies in monetary compensation but here I focus on motivating in the meetings that you have with your sales rep to keep them engaged and focused on achieving their goals.s.

Here are some tips on how to motivate your SE's:

  1. Provide positive feedback: Give specific examples of their recent successes and the positive impact they have had on the business.

  2. Set achievable targets: Ensure that sales targets are realistic and achievable, so sales executives feel confident in their ability to reach them.

  3. Celebrate successes: Celebrate when sales executives achieve their targets, whether it's with a small celebration or recognition in front of the team.

  4. Offer incentives: Consider offering incentives such as bonuses or commission increases for reaching specific targets or closing larger deals.

  5. Provide training and development opportunities: Invest in the development of your sales executives by offering training programs, mentorship opportunities, or access to industry events.

  6. Encourage teamwork: Encourage collaboration among sales executives by creating opportunities for them to work together and share best practices.

  7. Foster a positive work environment: Create a positive work environment where sales executives feel valued and supported. Recognize their efforts and show them that they are a vital part of the team.

Of course with your first sales hire and a small team doing exactly this is not pragmatic. However the principles remain the same. Even in a small team you need to build structure, culture and discipline in order to create a high performance sales engine as Gartner did and keeps improving.



My passion revolves around empowering entrepreneurs to reach the stars. As an independent mentor and advisor, I provide a unique blend of strategic thinking and pragmatic execution, including easy to access packages of startup founder mentoring, pitch improvement and growth advisory.

Don't miss out on ideas and inspiration and subscribe to my blog for a series of articles covering pitch deck, GTM and Sales Operations.



bottom of page