Tag Archives: Sales

So You Want to Build a Sales Team

Every Start-up hits the point where they move from having a couple of sales people to building a sales team.  This might be because sales are taking off or most-likely because you took some funding and were told you had to scale your Demand Generation and Sales.

If only, it was as simple as hiring more sales people. 

Here is some quick and simple advice to help you avoid some common mistakes in building a sales team based on the questions I get most often.

Understand your target customers.  Who is buying your product today and is who is your target customer for the next 18 months?  So much money is wasted because people either hire too senior or too junior of sales people to tackle the challenges of selling to the clients they can close.

Is your sale, transactional and focused on the SMB market or is your solution focused on Enterprise customers?  These are completely different sales and need completely different people. The clearer you are, the less mistakes you will make.

Do you have a sales leader?  You can have 3,4,5 sales people without a true sales leader but if you want to scale a team, you have to hire a professional sales manager.  Alignment, again, is key but they also need to have a sales process they can use to develop the sales people into a team.

They will also help you sniff through a good story and get the right people who can actually do the job.

If you don’t have a sales leader, pay one you know at another company and have them come and help you hire sales people until you find one. 

You will want a simple comp plan….   My Advice…. For One time purchases go with straight percentage and for SAAS, go with 1 to 2X monthly revenue.   Your sales leader will build on accelerators.  Remember, the plan should drive the outcome you want.

You are going to need an CRM.  You can choose to start with Salesforce www.salesforce.com, Insightly, www.insightly.com or Zoho, www.zoho.com.

Most likely, you will end up on Salesforce eventually but by no means do you have to start there as it can be expensive and not necessary until you start integrating other areas of the business.  You do need a sales funnel and visibility.  Start running your sales team from dashboards as quickly as you can to build that culture from the beginning.

Don’t hire dramatically faster than you can scale Demand Gen.

You want to build in the culture of prospecting from the beginning but you do not want a team where at least 30% of the leads are not uncovered through Marketing. If you have more sales people than leads, you are hiring too fast and need to really focus on scaling Demand Gen to avoid wasting money.

If you have too much Demand Gen, your sales team will get fat and will never prospect.  Sounds funny to have too much Demand Gen, but if your sales people can make their number based on incoming leads, you need to hire more sales people.  Otherwise, this will have cultural ramifications for a long time.  Trust me, if there is a limited number of leads, the sales team will work each one of them like gold

Here is a rule I use…

I want the Sales team to uncover at least 50% of their own opportunities.  With all of the tools out there from LinkedIn Sales Navigator, to ClearBit Connect you do not have to rely on cold-calling but you do need to prospect.

Hope this helps.  We will cover Direct or Channel Sales at a different Time.

Let me know the tools you find most valuable and how I can help.  Let’s build great teams together.







Neutral is Backward – 3 Nuggets to “Get Growing”

Let’s face it, change always looks easier and better when someone else is doing it.

We can encourage them, envy them and even be inspired by other people and companies who have changed their culture and their lives.

It just always looks so much easier in the “Before and After” pictures or as we read the Business Case. We are so smart with Hind-sight.

Most people desire growth but very few are willing to work for it. The truth is that if you want GROWTH, you have to be willing to not just change but you have to willing to change more than the person next to you. You have to be willing to apply the work needed to make the change permanent

The first truth you have to understand if you want to change your life or your culture is that you got yourself here. Your decisions or lack of decisions have you right where you are today. You might like where you are today. If that is the case, keep rolling but make sure you read the last point of this article before you log off. There is no Neutral.

Realize, there is no, “them.” You are responsible for your circumstance and if you lead others, you are responsible for that culture as well. As Michal Jackson said, you have to start with the Man in the Mirror. Who doesn’t love a random MJ reference? If you never get started, they never will.

Here are 3 areas that are necessary for focus if you really want to “Get Growing.”

Commit to Change – Change is not a slogan, Change is not a sign on a wall. Change is not talking about change. Change is when a person decides to do something differently. Momentum is built for change when a group of people start to actually move in the same direction.


This will not be as easy as anyone makes it sound so you must want to desire to be in a new place more than you will resist the work or you are not committed and change will fail. Habits are the enemy of change. Even good ones will never get you to great.

Prioritize Growth – This sounds to simple. Prioritizing means you have to start new things and more importantly STOP doing the old things. As a runner, I am a bit of a disciple junky. Discipline has built a solid foundational work ethnic for me. This is not enough for growth and when my discipline blocks my creativity, my discipline is a hindrance to growth for myself and my team

When growth is a priority, everything that doesn’t lead to growth, needs to be stopped. This leads us to our last point.

There is no Neutral – You are either going forward or backward. When you are holding steady, you are actually going backward. You just don’t realize it. When people or companies get momentum going, many times, they make the mistake to take their foot off the pedal and coast. This is a huge mistake.

Easily said, Everything that is not growth is taking you backwards. There is no Staying steady. Status Quo is Dead Wood. New things can grow from it but there is no life in it.


While you can’t always tell why you have momentum, you can tell when you have it and you need to keep pushing into what is working, measure results and stay committed to growth.

Today’s world is very fluid and the business world even more so as technology companies seemingly appear from nowhere and many of the assured formulas for growth that we once used are no longer applicable. It is sometimes very hard to tell what magic piece actually caused the growth.

In hindsight, we can make ourselves sound very smart but many times, we have no idea which egg is golden until we have bitten into it.

Here is what has not changed, be committed to Growth, means that no ritual is sacred.

You need to be passionately committed to your vision, you need to committed to your purpose for existing. You cannot tie yourself to, “The way we do things.” So the WHY shouldn’t change but the WAY is always negotiable.

Get after Life, it is just waiting for you to take it. No matter, if you lead thousand or lead yourself, your life is depending on you getting growing.