Ed Sim makes a lot of good points in his “When to hire a VP of Sales“. I would particularly like to comment on the following statement:
“In addition, over time the sales team will get frustrated if the product is not ready for primetime and they will be out looking for a new job in a couple of quarters making all of this effort a very expensive experiment.”
That is absolutely true, and I think only comes with experience (or reading Ed’s blog). It is hard to underestimate how quickly sales people become frustrated if they feel the product is not saleable, especially if the market for the product is new in general or unfamiliar to the sales person.
Another aspect of sales hiring, very important to understand before multiple sales people are brought on, is the length of the sales cycle. It is pointless to expect a sales person to produce even after two quarters when the average sales cycle for your industry segment is nine months. So one has to remember that a sales person will use up most of their year getting that first sale, and that despite being “theirs”, the senior technical or business personnel will actually do most of the work in getting that first, or even second and third, sales for every sales person hired. It is annoying for a bootstrapping company to babysit someone who is supposed to be brining in sales and income – but there is often no other way to get the sales people to understand the new technology they are selling to new customers they are engaging.
“…rather than hire a VP of Sales first, I would encourage you to focus on generating leads and hiring a sales rep or two to follow up on them. This way you can take a smaller step to refine your sales model and product before going big.”
Absolutely. This is sage advice (don’t I sound fawning?)