[2 min read] 

You win your first 15 - 20 customers. Your investors tell you “Great, you’ve found your market fit and it’s time to grow.” You hire a Sales Director. She or he hires a team and together you create a killer pitch deck. Six months down the track your customer base has grown from 20 to 24 and your burn rate has quadrupled. 

Sadly, this is an all too common tale for B2Bs when it comes to hiring a sales team. Make sure you’re considering the following as part of your sales hiring strategy.

Don’t hire too soon

Too many companies build up capacity in sales, marketing and customer support well before it’s genuinely needed. Before you hire a Sales Director (who will inevitably want to hire a team of sales reps), ask yourself how desperate the need is. Wait until the demand is there and the urgency is painful. This is the time to give hiring the green light.

Find a repeatable go-to-market strategy

Founders often think they’ve found their go-to-market fit, but their (newly hired) sales team struggle to unlock real growth. Finding a repeatable go-to-market strategy is critical for growth, and a fancy powerpoint pitch accompanied by some sales tactics is simply not enough. 

A repeatable go-to-market strategy is understanding (and then documenting) how you find and win customers over and over again. It’s the culmination of what you’ve learnt from how you source your customers, move them through the buyer journey, aid their yes/no decision and gather feedback from their onboarding. It’s an iterative process best started by very closely examining your early wins. What was the customer journey from first contact? How did you close the deal? What feedback did they give
you along the way? As you undertake your forensic examination you will start to identify common threads and repeatable actions - these are the building blocks of a scalable sales strategy.

Make your first hire a jack of all trades

Discovering a repeatable go-to-market strategy is multifaceted, and in those early days of the sales journey you need someone who can just as easily flex from sales to product marketing to customer experience. Hire the person who knows enough to both iterate on your sales strategy and positively influence the product roadmap.

Lean in, less

As a founder you know the product inside out, but that doesn’t make you the greatest salesman of all time. Once you make a hire, avoid focusing too much of your own time on selling and resist the temptation to micromanage. Trust their expertise and invest your energy into helping them identify how to win customers without your input.

Stay focused

Now is not the time to experiment with different sales tactics and approaches. Avoid investing your limited resources in a game of trial and error - it’s a huge investment of time and energy which more often than not yields disappointing results. Remaining focused will help you find your repeatable go-to-market strategy, faster.

Trust your Sales Exec, and get comfortable being uncomfortable

As a founder you’ll want to hire people that plug any holes in your own skills and experience. A great Sales Executive will closely examine what you’ve done to date, and highlight any areas you’ve gone wrong. This can be uncomfortable and confronting, you’re only human after all. Remind yourself it’s not personal and a necessary part of driving to scale. They’re doing exactly what you’ve hired them to do.

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