1 more sales rep will break your business

Apr 19, 2023

Hundreds of startups are born every year. They hire 10 pithy employees. Then what happens? Most of those will end up being lifestyle companies that do not scale.

Maybe they think scaling is not for them. But I see a lot of founders who would scale if they knew how!

Now me, I'm process-oriented, sometimes to my own detriment. I went to school for engineering - — construction management, so I can't help but start thinking about how to scale things before I even start working on it.

To do this, I ask SaaS founders 2 simple questions.

The answers to these questions tell me what the current health of their business is and what it'll take to get their company out of its rut and scale customer acquisition, scale teams, implement tools, and so on.

What would happen if you added 2 sales reps tomorrow?
What would happen if you were to double your customer acquisition or leads tomorrow?

The answer is often:

  • Lots of things will break
  • We don't have the tooling we need
  • The timespan wouldn't hold up
  • Our team capacity isn't there to train them
    and so on...

This is surface-level stuff, admittedly. There's a deeper reason behind asking them.

What do these 2 questions really uncover?

What I want the founder to see is: what it's going to take to get their business into a healthy spot.

Now, 90% of the time when I ask these questions, they help founders change the roadmap, product, or strategy to allow their company to scale.

They are doing the best they can, but they're still missing a crucial element.

Let's take the average startup with 1 growth person doing everything from social to paid to sales, they have 1 customer support person. There are a couple of product people, they outsource their engineers and there's just 1 founder. That usually means they have no CRM. Trust me, I see it all the time.

For this company, a new rep will have to find their own leads, run their own reports, and manually log every interaction... Exhausting just to think about it, right?

Add to this nightmare scenario the fact that most startups can't afford a senior sales rep. They're hiring someone green and giving them an even greener sales system.

What happens next? Well nothing, because there's no system tracking what's happening. There's no way to know what needs tweaking or maybe totally overhauling.

The reason startup salespeople get shucked

If salespeople lack the tools they need to succeed, they likely lack the tools they need to show their worth.

Read that again!

You do need product-market fit, a strong leadership team and mentors, but you also need to gear your sales team up for success with a solid process.

So, if you're running a SaaS startup and hiring sales, ask yourself a few more than 2 questions:

  • How are you qualifying leads, and at what stage in your sales funnel?
  • What's your sales playbook for process documentation?
  • What is being said and what should be said when someone speaks to a prospect?
  • How does this change when a prospect becomes a client?
  • What does a good demo look like, and where does a rep need to go to find all the things they're going to demo?

Sounds like a lot to put in place? It is.

There are solutions like hiring someone to implement processes once and then letting your green hire take it from there. Ideally, you'll dedicate the time to creating these processes though, maybe with an advisor to guide you, before hiring 1 more sales rep.

If you get the answers to all 5 questions ready before you hire that 1+ sales rep, they will grow, not break your business.

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