Hiring a sales team? Avoid making this crucial mistake

The world of startups is dynamic and fast-paced. Having a clear outline to scale and grow in a competitive landscape is an art in itself. Our four-part series “Playbook for Startup Founders after Raising Pre-Series Funding” will cover strategies that will help startup founders make a robust growth plan and find the best ways to utilize funding.

Our first article in the series talks about the most imminent pillar of a scaling startup – Sales. For startups, sales are the holy ground that determines the growth path and the business’s revenue.

Here we discuss the most-asked question in the startup world about sales hiring, i.e., whether first to hire a sales leader or sales representatives during the initial scaling phase of a startup.

Sales representatives should be the first hire

There, we said it! There is no point in beating around the bush when talking about the most crucial aspect of a startup’s sales strategy. Representatives are your front-line people. They are customer-facing team members who represent your organization. Sales representatives get you the deals, the money.

The most common kick-starter is to plan the scale-up and growth trajectory after securing the funding. While planning is one of the most critical aspects of the growth strategy, it does require some ground data. A solid set of data is a foundation every successful growth strategy needs. Data, therefore, comes before decision-making and planning.

Your sales representative brings you the data, and your sales leader gets you the plan and high-level strategy. It is, therefore, imperative to hire a sales representative before investing in a leader.

Not convinced yet? Here’s a detailed account of how your sales reps help you to lay a strong foundation for strategizing and decision-making and why they should be the first to enter your startup. 

Early-stage sales exploration

sales teams a lot more than the sales leaders. They bring you data that only market exposure can bring.

Such market insights help you to gain an understanding of your customer’s behavior and test different strategies and tactics to acquire customers. These market insights then give you a magnified view of the market. They help you to assess your market positioning and how your product is perceived by different customer segments.  

Skills to understand and listen to the customers 

A sales representative has a special knack to interact with on-ground customer teams and customers. They are usually the link between the leaders and the customers. Hence, they are apt at interpreting customer behavior and decoding the ground data reported by your sales teams.

An ideal sales representative will also know indicators that will help you to extract crucial market insights. They will have the skills to interact and parnet with your customers to be able to better understand the market. Sales reps will get answers to crucial questions such as –

  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • What are the different buyer personas?
  • What are some of their crucial pain points?
  • How do customers respond to your solution?
  • Who are the competitors in the market?

Leaders play a vital role in using these insights to guide the overall revenue growth strategy of the organization. In contrast, your representatives will know how to extrapolate such insights and develop market-facing strategies to do so.

Getting younger talent pays off

Leaders will always be a few years ahead of the people in representative or executive roles. However, there’s a great advantage in having less experience. Younger sales teams with fewer years of experience compared to industry leaders will non-hesitantly go after new customers and in uncharted territory. They will most ardently take risks and seek newer clients.

In the initial stages of a startup, it is important to have such a team that does not rely too much on the tried and tested methods and is instead ready to dive into newer prospects.

Younger talent will also endorse innovative solutions and new ideas. You won’t have to convince them about your solutions. Most millennials seek opportunities that interest them, and hence, you are most likely to receive applications from those who truly believe in your vision.

Hiring leaders is a huge investment

Hiring exceptional talent is a tricky process. And hiring for leadership roles is not only tricky but also incredibly expensive. A sales leader will bring with them several years of experience. They will be the guiding force in a scaling process. However, to get a guiding force, you need to know where you need the most guidance.

Sales representatives will not only help you to gain a better understanding of your market but also the pain points of your selling strategy. When you have identified the weak spots in your sales strategy, you will know where it is that you need more support and leadership.

And when you have identified that, you will know what specific experience and traits your sales leader must have to adequately strengthen your selling process.

Hiring a sales leader takes a lot of finesse and critical evaluation, and your sales representatives can surely help you do that with market insights acquired from ground data.

At Cusp, we help startups and seasoned organizations to strengthen their sales strategies. Our “employee first” view will help you to evaluate the kind of sales personnel and leaders you need in your organization. We align the organization’s design and values with the right talent.

If you are concerned about driving sales, then seek expert help to build effective customer and market-facing processes to build pipelines and increase conversions.

Get in touch with us here or read our four-part series that focuses on growth plans and fund allocation strategies. You can also get free resources to hone your sales and marketing decisions skills.

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