Q: How do you structure a sales team when you’ve got zero experience doing sales?

Well, first go get some experience with sales. 🙂

At least, close the first 10 customers yourself. If you don’t, you’ll never have any idea how to do it. And the odds your first rep succeeds go way, way down.

OK, assuming you know how to do it (you’ve closed 10+ customers yourself) … then how you do you structure your first team?

Don’t overcomplicate it. A few thoughts:

  • First, make sure your sales reps can “eat”, that they can make enough money if they close deals. This often means that for their first 1–3 months, you might even let them take home 50%-100% of what they close. It’s an investment in them. After that, scale back the take-home % to a more normal percentage. In the end, a rep’s total comp can’t really exceed about 20%-25% of what they close. But that doesn’t have to be the case in the earliest days.
  • Second, only hire reps you’d buy from yourself. You know how to sell your product. And no one has ever heard of it. That means each lead is so precious, and so important. Hire reps you’d buy your own product from. A bit more here: The Top 10 Mistakes Made in Hiring Your First Sales Team | SaaStr
  • Third, try to hire 2 to start. If you don’t, you’ll never know for sure why anyone succeeds if you don’t have a control. More here: When You Hire Your First Sales Rep — Just Make Sure You Hire Two | SaaStr
  • Fourth, be there all day to help. Later, you’ll develop real sales training processes. In the beginning, you’ll train by osmosis. But you have to be there. You have to be there all the time to help.
  • Fifth, hire smarter folks in the beginning. The learning curve will be so steep, it’s better to have a smarter rep than average, because they will also need to become product experts.
  • Sixth, just use “round robin” to route leads. Just split the leads up evenly between your reps, for a while at least.
  • Seven, make sure your first reps have at least a little SaaS experience at your price point. They don’t have to have domain expertise. But if your SaaS product is a $299/month product, and they’ve sold a $299/month product before … they’ll know the basics already around process, pacing, etc. That helps a lot. Because you don’t.


(note: an updated SaaStr Classic post)

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