By breaking down the process of building a company into different phases, it gives you a richer language and helps you understand that each phase is different. When I talk to early stage founders who have companies below $30M or even $1M in sales, I tell them, don’t hire a salesperson. In the early days at Salesforce the first 50 employees where either an engineer or non- engineer. And if you weren’t an engineer, you dealt with customers. All of us dealt with customers. We talked to them as SDRs. We closed them as salespeople. I deployed some set of our first ten customers along with Brian Millham and Diane Mark.
Once we got to 30-40 people at Saleforce, we started building departments. I ran product management, Brian ran business development and another ran training, another ran support but we had a shared understanding of how to get customers successful. It created a glue for the company. If instead, we had hired a bunch of salespeople, they would’ve been a filter towards us learning how to build the company in the early stages.
THERE’S A DOWNSIDE TO HIRING SALESPEOPLE TOO EARLY.
The next stage in a company is when you want 10 salespeople but you’ll still be personally involved in every single deal in some fashion. There’s a group learning that takes place. You have to have some things pinned down and some repeatable success but you still touch every deal and guide every rep.
Then you get into an environment where you have 30 salespeople and you have managers or a management layer and you have to think a different way. Next, imagine a large number of sales people with three layers of management worldwide. In this instance at Zuora, I’ll discover that as I drop into a country like Germany and they’re selling differently than in the US. That’s not good. Then you have to put in sales enablement, sales operations, sales structure, and a measurement system. You have to visualize a brand new salesperson without the luxury of having you or your head of sales on the call, how do you deliver a level of consistency? It’s a different scale problem at these different phases.