Mark Cuban recently said that the two best forms equity for entrepreneurs are: sweat equity and customer equity.
Sweat equity is the ‘grind’, the hours, the hard and smart work you put into creating the service or product.
And the customer equity is the validation of revenue you get from customers.
Turns out you cannot get customer equity without sales.
Customer equity often requires founders to go beyond the initial sales from referrals. And word of mouth.
Validation (read sales) must also come from the real market. And for most businesses, that involves bringing in more people to sell.
Right time to hire a salesperson
But when do you know the right time to hire someone to sell?
What are the indicators that the time is right?
When should you hire the 1st or 5th or 10th salespeople to help sell more?
It is important to, first of all, understand the basics of your sales process. And the key metrics that help you make sense of that process
There at least five 5 key questions business owners need to ask themselves.
The answers will determine whether you’re ready to hire more salespeople.
1) Which part of my sales motion is repeatable?
Selling doesn’t thrive on beginners luck. It thrives on consistency.
Before attempting to scale, it’s vital to identify the activities which produce consistent results.
They’re repeatable. And you know why and how often.
One way to know this is to consider the rule of three.
If you only have one salesperson on the role, you don’t know if they’re performing or not, telling truth or not.
If you have two people, that is better. You create competition but sometimes two people could be friends. And they can kind of collide and collude.
When you have three, you have the odd person. You have real competition and you get all the answers you need.
Assuming one of them is producing results, you will have a better understanding of your process.
And what that could look like when you can start stepping on the gas.
How much X effort does it take to achieve Y results?
2) What kind of message should you communicate?
Finding the right message for your target market is important.
For the most part, the message needs to resonate with how the market creates value.
But finding those compelling value propositions are only the starting point.
You’ll also need to ensure that there’s great consistency when articulating it across the different customer groups.
Consistency is vital. Why is important to figure this out before you hire a salesperson?
Because, you have to “grind”, be on the phone, send emails, get more appointments, do lots of prospecting.
And you don’t want your sales reps to be blurting out different or conflicting messages.
3) Which persona do you need to spend the most time with?
Time is the least available resource for sales teams.
Which is why it’s important to know the best use of your time before you hire a salesperson.
Part of determining the best use of time is knowing which persona is most valuable. And can move your business to the next level.
Is she the IT manager or the VP of Finance?
Is she the Recruiting executive or the Onboarding champion?
Is this person a gatekeeper or decision maker?
Or an internal lobbyist or champion.
Like you’ll do in inbound marketing, you need to have a clear persona of the most important customers.
This helps you to appropriate the time of your sales teams in the best possible way.
4) What does the closing look like and how long does it take?
Everything in sales rises and falls on expectations.
So it’s important to establish the right expectations for closing sales deals before you hire more salespeople.
The best way to do this is to track the performance of your current sales process.
Among other things, you’ll also need to understand the elements of your closing process.
Does it take on the average 3 meetings? 8 weeks? 7 emails and 1 meeting?
Is the close typical via email or it’s a conversion from a free trial to paying?
Use the best metrics that make sense for your own business.
When you know your numbers, not only can you hold new sales reps accountable, but you can set the right rhythm for them.
And more importantly, not stress them out with unrealistic expectations.
5) How do you position your product versus others in the market?
This final question allows you to think about how your service sits in the broad scheme of the market.
Are you a complementary or substitutionary solution?
What pain points are do you solve?
Look, you’ll be bringing on board 2 or 10 or 20 more sales reps. This is not the time to discover your positioning. But to reinforce it.
Through customer and product feedback you develop a deep understanding.
An understanding of how your solution stacks up against your closest competitors.
The real test for business owners who have a lot of passion and understanding for their business is bringing in someone who isn’t an original founder and telling them to sell your product.
These questions, combined with your own passion, will help you to determine the right time to hire a new salesperson.