Has Jason M. Lemkin changed his opinion of what a great vp of sales is after the fall out at Zenefits?
No. Zenefits went from $0.Xm to $60m in 24 months. That’s pretty solid. It’s better than 99.9999% of us did.
The meta “sales” lesson is probably more about spending to create revenue vs. spending to support revenue.
Zenefits clearly spent ahead to create revenue once it raised $100s of millions of capital … it drove upmarket ahead of its organic customer demand (apparently), seeking more growth … it hired very aggressively to seek more growth … etc. etc.
If you have a ton of capital … you can use it to turn sales headcount into revenue. Box did this, Salesforce did it to some extent, etc. If you have a ton of capital, you can hire X number of sales people to “create” Y amount of revenue, even if the leads and the sub-metrics aren’t there yet to support that revenue growth.
But it’s super expensive.
Most of us have to, in the end, hire sales to support the revenue growth we already have, to support the growth we’ve seen the past few months and plan to have the coming months. The mega-funded can, if they choose, go further.
So I think probably the learnings of Zenefits circa ’14 are relevant to all SaaS start-ups, but as you get into the unicorn phase in ’15 and beyond … the operational / sales lessons are less on-point.