This is the first post of a four part series covering trends in sales organization growth. From hiring to team building, we have witnessed these trends through our unique window into a diverse set of leading tech companies.
The rockstars at these high-growth organizations must efficiently attract and retain top talent, while being strategic about how many new SDRs vs. Account Executives vs. Customer Success professionals they add to the organization. How are they making necessary data-driven hiring decisions to efficiently grow their teams?
Trend 1: Optimize your current team before adding new hires
Before you even think about hiring, you need to assess what you already have and determine whether bringing in new talent is necessary.
1. Know the roles needed
First, you need to assess and define the roles needed to efficiently scale your organization, or at least do the research so you can accurately weigh your options. Too often the same roles are repeatedly hired instead of thinking about modern role specialization and what breakdown of reps makes the most sense for your current and future situation.
If you run a company that has salespeople doing their own prospecting your next hires should not be more salespeople, but instead lead gen reps who will make your machine more efficient and will help to build a bench of talent for the future. It is pretty shocking how many sales orgs still operate this way, particularly at large companies. The reason why tech companies steal market share at such a high velocity is because they specialize often and early. Specialization makes the whole system more effective and it’s been proven to work.
2. Asses your sales tech
Sales software allows for teams to exponentially become more efficient and most sales leaders only know a small fraction of what is possible. According to the 2015 SalesForce State of Sales Report, “high-performing sales teams use technology to accelerate sales processes and free up time to sell.” There has never been a more exciting time to be in sales especially because we are now automating pieces of the process that we thought impossible just 2-3 years ago! If you are a sales executive who hasn’t heard of frontline and strategic tools like outreach.io, SalesLoft, or InsideView… you are wasting your team’s time. There are killer resources to help you get your sales stack in order before you hire another salesperson.
Trend 2: Outsource and systematize the hiring process
1. How to hire
Use your network first or use specialized recruiters. Even if you have a recruiter in house, or two or three, it is impossible for them to have the reach and network that a firm with hundreds of recruiters would have on their own network. You should have in house HR people, but don’t be scared to go outside and look for experts’ help. For example, we use Betts Recruiting because they are experts in hiring tech sales and marketing executives. They specialize so we don’t have to and that allows us the wiggle room to breathe and more properly execute the interviewing, selection and onboarding processes.
2. Who to hire
When it comes to the interview process, you should be looking to disqualify rather than qualify. When I’ve made mistakes in hiring, it’s primarily because I was overly optimistic about a person’s potential and didn’t stay true to my scorecard system. A great resource for hiring that I highly recommend is Who written by Geoff Smart. It is a very practical guide on how to hire great people and it highlights how to recruit top talent, outlining the steps within the screening and interview process and the questions to ask. Rather than developing a “job description,” Smart recommends building out a hiring “scorecard,” which is essentially a job description, but with clear accountabilities across multiple elements like role, mission, outcomes, competencies, and cultural fit.
In addition, it’s important to back channel everyone and check references that aren’t provided to get the real story. This has saved me many mistakes at the executive level and helps you understand what you are getting yourself into.
The above trends are not groundbreaking, but if you ignore role specialization or your sales stack you risk falling behind. The composition of a successful salesperson is changing rapidly, and we believe that an evolution of trends is ahead of us.
Stay tuned for our next post as we explore hiring trends and how we can apply them to our sales orgs.