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When do you hire your first sales person for your early stage startup?
A clear no compromise checklist (which I am calling A.B.O.U.T) for deciding on what needs to happen before you hire your first sales person
When's the right time to hire your first salesperson at an early-stage startup? This common question comes with no easy answers. Too soon and they may struggle without a solid product or customer base. Too late and you miss opportunities to accelerate growth.
After working with a few startups on this dilemma, I've developed an easy-to-remember checklist to determine when you're truly ready: A.B.O.U.T.
A is for Adopters. Before hiring sales, you need a small group of engaged users who love your product. For B2B startups, strive for at least 5 loyal early adopters who can articulate the key differentiators and value. Their feedback is gold.
B is for Bandwidth. Do you have time to support the new salesperson? Plan to join sales calls for the first 2 months after hiring. You can’t avoid founder-led sales. And build a pipeline of at least 50 qualified prospects to hand off. If you can't devote this effort, it's too soon. Use these calls to coach and also get feedback.
O is for Offers. Craft compelling offers that address each buyer persona's needs and convey unique value. Be transparent with pricing but be ready to tailor pricing and positioning. Avoid generic one-size-fits-all pitches.
U is for Usage. Analyze product usage metrics with early adopters. Low engagement signals bigger issues to address before scaling sales. Let data guide your timing. Make sure that the product is easy to understand and easy to try.
T is for Templates. Standardize sales collateral based on early wins. Document what works to make onboarding smooth for new hires. Let them build from successful templates versus starting from scratch.
The A.B.O.U.T. checklist helps avoid prematurely hiring salespeople before you’re positioned for success. Get the timing right and your first rep can propel growth. Move too soon or late and it becomes an uphill battle. Use these five elements as your guide.
Here is another post about what to do at different stages of your startup growth