B2B SalesGo-to-MarketHiring

How to ensure the success of your first sales hire

By February 14, 2019 April 12th, 2021 No Comments

Founders and employed salespeople sell differently—it’s a simple fact.

Founders are able to make sales based on deep domain knowledge, creativity, and extraordinary levels of enthusiasm for their product or service. The way they engage and sell to customers is different from normal salespeople, and they’re often able to hustle up sales with very little sales support or sales collateral. As a founder, it’s not reasonable to expect your first sales hire to be able to sell the same way you do.

As a founder, it’s not reasonable to expect your first sales hire to be able to sell the same way you do.

If you want to ensure the success of your first sales hire, you need to have the necessary processes, metrics and support in place when they come on board. Sales people are expensive, especially if you’re making complex B2B sales to large enterprises. Both the costs and opportunity costs of an unsuccessful hire are extremely high.

We’ve summarised what you need to have in place for your first sales hire below.

Company strategy and revenue targets

For your sales function to run effectively, sales people need to understand the context of the work that they’re doing. You need to provide them with a vision for what you’re looking to achieve. More explicitly, you should be able to communicate a clear company strategy that includes realistic revenue goals. These revenue goals are what you’ll use to set the sales targets for your sales team.

Well defined product or service

You may not yet have a product market fit, but you have to have a “product” in order for your sales person to have something to sell. At the very least, your product should be a well defined hypothesis of what the markets needs.
This should be accompanied by a clear definition of the features and benefits with the marketing and sales collateral to support the sale. If you can’t provide your sales people with this, you are setting them up for failure. It’s almost impossible to sell anything if you don’t know what you’re supposed to be selling, and don’t have the necessary support.

Robust pricing model

An important part of your product definition is to have a carefully considered pricing model. Price may be the least important factor in a customer’s buying decision, but the ability to clearly communicate pricing and your value proposition remains extremely important.
Ideally, you should have a value-based pricing model that aligns to the value you create for a customer and is easy for salespeople to communicate.

Marketing and sales tools

Your sales and marketing collateral should be calibrated to the buyer’s journey for your particular product. At a minimum, you should generally be able to provide your sales person with the following:

  • CRM System (e.g. Pipedrive, Salesforce, etc)
  • Sales presentation deck
  • Sales playbook that includes a qualification framework and buyer personas
  • Product demo
  • Proposal templates
  • Website with product description(s)
  • Product brochures

Activity metrics for your sales process

The sales quota/target/budget is the ultimate number that your salesperson needs to achieve, but they need to know what they have to do in order to get there. This is where activity metrics come in.

By the time you hire a salesperson, you should’ve been tracking your own activity metrics to create a baseline for the activity that is required to generate a sale. This should include metrics for things like outbound prospecting calls, discovery meetings, and proposals, along with expected conversion metrics.

A trap that many companies fall into is making up activity metrics that have no basis in reality. Generally, this results in the metrics having low credibility, and leads to unproductive salespeople. 

Clear remuneration and commission structure

Anybody that you hire into your sales team should be extremely money driven. Money motivates good sales people and you must be able to provide them with a lucrative and easy-to-understand commission structure. They must easily be able to see what they stand to earn when they hit or exceed targets.

As a side note, if you haven’t yet worked out a commission structure, you’re going to be under-calculating your customer acquisition cost, and may well be mis-pricing your product as a result.

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