From Impossible To Inevitable is all about scaling, and one of the core focus points of Make Sales Scalable, the third section of the book, is how to scale your team so that you are always hiring the right people for the job at the right time.
At each stage—from small, to medium, to large, to huge—having the right people to execute the right strategy is critical. This goes double for sales. Get the wrong VP Sales at the wrong time and your growth can quickly stall, and you’ll have trouble regaining any early momentum you picked up.
If your VP Sales is your weak point, then that will have a serious detrimental effect on your company. It’s hard to deal with, but you will have to make the decision to move that person on and get the right salesperson in to do the job.
The Right VP Sales At The Right Time
Ross and Lemkin lay out the 4 types of VP Sales needed for critical junctures in your growth. Each of these will make a crucial impact on your company, but only if they’re hired at the right time:
The Evangelist: $0-$1M
This is what most people think about when they envision a VP of Sales. Someone who is all passion for the project and the product. For early stage startups, an evangelist can seem like the answer to their prayers.
The problem is that they often have trouble moving beyond this stage. As they have always made their sales through their enthusiasm and personality, they have no idea how to scale and systematize sales. They’re good for those first few big deals, but just when you need to a put a process in place, they can’t help.
What’s more, an early stage startup should already have an evangelist-type salesperson—the CEO. You should be your evangelist, and only hire a VP of Sales when you’re ready to put a system in place and need some experience.
Mr. Make it Repeatable: $1M-$10M
This is the guy who takes your sales strategy and turns it into a constant pipeline of leads, prospects, and deals. It is a crucial hire in these early stages as it’s the person who is laying the foundation for continual growth. It’s also the hardest hire to make.
This is because not a lot of people have the right experience to make this predictable pipeline happen. You’ll be looking to hire someone away from a big company with the promise of a flashy new title and a sweet compensation package. But the salespeople at billion-dollar companies don’t necessarily have the skills to build a company.
But it’s imperative you make this hire. As Ross and Lemkin say, “Everything seems much simpler and clearer. Almost immediately, revenue goes up. Because they know how to close, recruit, hire and coach. And they know how to build the basic processes you need to make it predictable.”
Ms. Go Big: $10M-$40M
This position is all about taking the process and super-sizing it. They increase hires, start specializations within the team and work with the VP Marketing to grow the inbound and outbound marketing and sales. They want to make a machine that produces revenue.
Ross and Lemkin say the best place to look for these VPs is companies that have just gone through this stage and have crushed it themselves. If they know how to keep the sales machine turning, you want them now.
Mr. Dashboards: $40M+
This is the final, but not necessarily inevitable, hire. Ross and Lemkin say you might need this guy once you are “past Unstoppable,” but that he is a liability before that, not knowing how to really scale and get to that $40M point in the first place.
He is going to refine your process, picking out all the way you can make marginal gains in an already successful team, but his skills lie in managing managers rather than growing revenue himself.
Leadership is what’s important, and different leadership is vital at different stages. Don’t be won over by great resumes alone. Just because someone has worked at a unicorn, doesn’t mean they got that unicorn to grow. Look for exactly what you need at each stage of your growth and hire due to those requirements. Get it wrong and you’ll stall, but get it right and you’re on track to hyper-growth.
From The Book: Mark Roberge On Sales Recruiting
Roberge is HubSpot’s Chief Revenue Officer and grew the sales team at HubSpot from $0 to $100M. He has hired hundreds of sales reps and interviewed thousands. He lays out what he sees as the 5 indicators of future success for hiring anyone in your sales team:
- Coachability. This is always #1. If they can’t learn your way of doing things, then they aren’t going to make any significant difference to the company.
- Prior Success. This doesn’t have to come from sales. If someone has excelled in any area of life, that can show that they have the determination to succeed in business. A great example of this type of hiring thinking at HubSpot is Colleen Coyne, an inbound marketing consultant. Yes, she had previous experience at Groove Networks and Microsoft, but what really stood out was that she is a gold medal-winning olympian.
- Work Ethic. Sales is a lot of rejection. Therefore, anyone that’s going to excel needs the ability to keep going even in the tough times. They also need the work ethic that will get them on calls, emails, and visits all day long.
- Curiosity. The people that are really going to get the great sales are the ones that want to know exactly what potential customers need. They are going to go that extra mile to find out, always asking why.
- Intelligence. This should go without saying. You’re not hiring for a boiler room. You need intelligent salespeople who can ask the right questions and get the right answers for their customers.