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When to Hire a Sales Leader: A Guide to Building a Sales Team

When building a sales function, one of the most crucial decisions is determining whom to hire first. Do you hire a leader to drive strategy or someone who can generate revenue immediately? 

Whether you are facing a booming or uncertain economic climate, having the right sales team at your disposal can be essential for achieving long-term growth. While it may seem like hiring a top-notch sales executive is always the right choice, understanding precisely when it is necessary can make all the difference in getting the most out of your investment. 

To ensure that you are hiring someone who will add value and contribute to the growth of your business, let us focus on the business challenges. 

Business Challenge: Need Quick Revenue

This is the time to hire a tenured account executive with a strong “hunter” profile who likes greenfield opportunities. This individual is a self-motivated contributor who excels in a fast-paced, unstructured environment. They are not focused on developing strategies and processes; they are focused on generating revenue quickly. This type of hunter is typically a short-term hire, averaging 24-36 months. They can assist in achieving the next revenue milestone before a player/coach is brought in. 

Business Challenge: Lack of Processes

In contrast, if funding and revenue are not the issues, it is most likely time to hire a seasoned player/coach as your first employee. By hiring this individual, your organization can become more cost-effective in the long run, and you will have the added benefit of a sales leader to guide you from the start. These leaders can drive revenue and build teams. Here are some of the benefits: 

Business Challenge: Expanding the Sales Team

Once your sales function has a solid foundation, it is time to increase your workforce. Here are some of the key players. 

Account management is another critical component of your sales strategy. A hunter/farmer team is ideal for this purpose. The farmer team is responsible for account management, while the hunters concentrate on generating new revenue. BDRs and SDRs are valuable assets, but if necessary, hunters will prospect on their own. 

When selling a product, Business Development Representatives (BDRs) and Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) can be great assets. They can create opportunities for your sales executives, who can then focus on closing deals. However, if you are offering a service, a BDR or SDR team may not be the appropriate choice. Instead, you will want more experienced sellers who comprehend the complete sales process and can collaborate with marketing to generate leads. 

When your organization reaches a certain level of scale and revenue, it becomes necessary to hire executive leaders who have experience managing other managers. At this point, industry knowledge becomes critical because you are coaching the people on the front line. 

Foundation for Success

Who you hire first when building out your sales function depends on your business objectives, product/market position, and financial investment. If you need to generate revenue quickly, consider hiring a sales hunter. If you are playing the long game, consider bringing in a leader with a higher level of expertise and experience. Regardless of whom you hire, ensure that they are aligned with your overall strategy and capable of assisting you in achieving your goals. 

Have questions about building a sales function? We can help. Contact us for a complimentary needs assessment at info@talentfoot.com.