May 12, 2019

Has anyone ever hired a sales person?


Hello IH! I wanted to see if any of you have hired a sales person for B2B sales. I've been doing this myself over the past 3 months, but leadgen, outreach, constant follow-ups, meetings & demos have been taking up all my time over the past month or so.

A lot of this stuff is super repeatable so I'd love to explore a sales person joining me on a commission-only basis. I have a limited budget since I'm bootstrapped. Has anyone here done something like this?

How much did you pay them or was it commission-only? How much commission is reasonable?

Where did you find the right person?

Any tips would be so appreciated!

  1. 1

    My 2 cents fwiw. I'm currently growth at a series D b2b saas venture. Prior to this I ran a (now closed) b2b saas venture and took it to $200k in revenue. I tried doing what you're describing, and in fact did it without any sales hires. The data says that this isn't the path to success though. You might be trying to grow before you make 1 customer extremely happy. And that's a leaky bucket. Stanford gushed about Zoom to a few other colleges and these were Eric's first customers. No marketing, no sales. So, what you might want to do instead is 1) find one customer willing to cross the chasm with you and 2) make them so happy that they recommend you to someone else. This is how my current venture also found their first growth. You'll be able to hire a great sales person when you can show them that you have had w-o-m success for a use case that sells itself.

  2. 1

    I would suggest a referral system + building a lot of online demos + recorded webinars.

    I've hired a lot of good sales people in my career, but commission only is really unfair as sometimes product sales cycles are longer that you expect + other market/product variables.

  3. 1

    Hey there! I think this is a great question, and definitely in the B2B space it's an important discussion to be having. A lot of successful founders have noted that building out B2B sales should be a huge focus for founders earlier in the game than it often is, even more so than marketing if the niche is specialized enough. I'm glad to see the topic discussed here!

    One request, though: as a woman with a background in marketing and sales, I'd love it if we could limit the gendered language when we're talking about people. I feel like my contributions and expertise are erased from the conversation in the context of language like "sales guys" and "#-man teams," and it doesn't feel good and doesn't encourage me to contribute. Thank you for your understanding.

    1. 2

      Hey Lauren - thanks for your note and apologies for the gendered language. I've edited the question and I'll be more cognizant of this in the future.

  4. 1

    I will just say that this interests me too. And I have not hired a sales guy (yet). But I just returned from a conference in the Philippines and I met a number of foreign founders and their local staff there. The business development staff were really quite good. With a bit of training I think you could get them doing lead generation and nurture and you could focus on the closing. I was quite encouraged.

    1. 1

      Awesome! Please do let me know how that goes.

  5. 1

    Not personally, although I was part of a 2-3 man company that tried to hire a sales guy.

    Long story short it didn't go well. Not because of skill (as far as I could tell the guy was good at sales although he lacked usable contacts in the industry), but because of expectations.

    Especially in B2B the ramp-up time for anyone in sales to start generating results in a good 6-12 months (depending on the business model / pricing). This timeframe is probably something you're well aware of given your position, but in my example the owner expected results a lot sooner.

    In reality the owner probably should have been more supportive, while the salesman should have set expectations better. In the end the relationship fell apart after 6 months with no sales, a souring company culture and the rather expensive salary.

    Not sure if that's much use to you. I would suspect the people who would help you in the short term (years of experience in the market, lots of contacts) would want way too much money, while those that don't would need a lot of support and time to get results.

    1. 2

      Thanks a ton for getting back to me, Grend - your points are definitely really helpful!

  6. 1

    Recommend reading Predictable Revenue. You can either hire sales development reps (bring you leads) or outsource that to an external company.

    You should still handle demos to stay close to the customers for now.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the book recommendation and great advice on the demos - much appreciated.

      I think I'd like to hire sales development reps - I'm going to put a few job postings out and see if I can attract anyone on a commission only basis. Have you had experience outsourcing BD? What were your experiences?

      Thanks again!