In fast-paced Series A & B companies, the pivotal difference between success and failure often boils down to one crucial element – the sales team. In a recent roundtable among B2B SaaS CROs, one key takeaway was how hiring and nurturing top sales talent is often the cornerstone of scaling endeavors.
The Importance of Hiring the Best
There’s a unanimous agreement that the lure of saving on sales rep salaries often results in recruiting mediocre talent. The consequence? Failed pipeline progress, messaging mishaps, and stunted growth.
Investing in top-tier sales professionals is akin to establishing a solid baseline for the company. The adage that “you get what you pay for” holds particularly true. These top reps not only bring in the desired numbers but also attract other high performing reps, reduce attrition rates, and elevate the skills of the entire sales team.
Tap Into Your Network
The challenge, particularly in smaller markets, lies in attracting top talent to embark on the challenging, often risky, journey of a startup. Sales reps may be swayed to join larger companies with an established brand, history of quota attainment, and $1M OTE comp plans. This is where tapping into personal networks is key. With a history of successful collaboration, high-performing AEs may be interested in joining a startup knowing the kind of culture that can be expected from a trusted CRO.
This idea is reinforced by several CRO’s narrating success stories from their past ventures, where AEs left lucrative positions at high-caliber corporations to join startups. Attracting top talent to startups is not just about offering a competitive compensation package; it’s about building a culture, showcasing leadership, and presenting a compelling growth story – both for career growth and company growth.
“I recruited one of my former reps who was a first line manager at Fortune 500 company. He was with them for 10 years and making $750K. I look back and think it’s kind of crazy that he joined our startup. The equity story helped. I brought in the board and the CEO to paint a picture of our growth. Today, he leads the SMB mid-market business and has 40 reps under him via four second-line leaders. It has changed his career trajectory.”
Grow High-performing Junior Talent
Attracting individuals who seek personal and professional development is important for early-stage sales hires. Hiring, training, and nurturing high-performing junior talent may be a good solution for companies unable to shell out salary for established, top sales talent.
“My next best strategy is to take a successful junior rep, assess what the gap is and then hammer them with training – literally sitting on top of them for as long as it takes until they are successful. Because one thing I’ve always found through my years of working in sales is that there’s no cure for lazy. Everything else can be taught.”
The key to unlocking growth at Series A or Series B startups is understanding the strategic importance of hiring and nurturing top sales talent. While companies may have to invest in higher salaries than they initially expected for their first AEs, doing so is much better than the alternative. Hiring mediocre reps is a wasted investment, sets a poor precedent for the rest of team, and can even be the reason for the why a company fails. Attracting high performers, however, goes beyond compensation. Companies often need to help the AEs buy into the vision of the company’s culture, growth, and even personal development to seal the deal.
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