Q: What are some common blind spots and mistakes startups make when hiring for and building out a sales team?

Some of the top blind spots founders and even VPs of Sales make:

#1. You hire a sales rep to sell before you can prove you can do it yourself. You have to prove it’s sellable first. You can’t outsource this.

#2. You hire a VP of Sales to sell before you prove you can do it yourself. You gotta prove the process is at least just barely repeatable before you hire someone to turn up the volume and spin the wheel faster. You gotta build 2 reps that can hit quota before you hire a real VP of Sales.

#3. Any of your First 2-3 sales reps are folks you personally wouldn’t buy from. Because then you’ll never trust them with your precious handful of leads, and they will fail. No matter how well they did in the last start-up.  A bit more here.

#4. You insist Reps #4-400 are folks you personally would buy from. It takes a village.  You have to let your VP of Sales broader the AE persona after the first few reps.

#5. You underpay. The best salespeople want to make MONEY. COIN. If you pay under-market, you get bottom of the barrel. A huge rookie error that ends up costing you far more than it saves.  Instead, make sure the best reps take home a fair amount of what they close.  More here.

#6. You don’t let reps go that fail in one sales cycle. If a sales rep can’t close anything in one sales cycle, they never will.  Some will start a bit slower than others.  But they have to close something in one sales cycle.  Otherwise, they don’t know sales.  Or at least, their playbook doesn’t work at your company.  More here and here.

#7. You ask your VP of Sales to Carry a Bag — at least for any material amount of time. Their job is to recruit a great deal and hit the overall plan. Not sell themselves, not mostly.  More here.

#8. You hire someone that last sold Nuskin or Pool Supplies. This can work later, but not in your first reps. They need to understand how to sell vaguely similar products at vaguely similar price points.

#9. You hire because they worked at Salesforce / Twilio / DropBox / whatever big brand name. Hire because they can close. Not because they are one of 4,000 reps at Salesforce that sell a product with $10,000,000,000+ in revenues, a proven brand, and huge infrastructure behind it.  More here.

#10. You allow any great reps to leave. You should strive for 0% voluntary attrition. Not to fire the bottom 1/3d. That’s for Boilerrooms. Great sales teams stick together. Great sales teams inspire each other. Great sales team attract higher and higher quality of reps as time goes on.  More on that here:

The Beauty and ROI in The Zero Voluntary Attrition Sales Team



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