Football positions

Like football, your sales team has multiple positions that support and protect one another.

Companies improve their chances of survival by building an effective sales team fast. Here’s the formula for building your sales team.

Have Four Tiers

The four tiers of sales are Hunters, Outbound Sales, Inbound Sales, and Account Managers.

The Hunter is a well-coiffed, extraverted and well-connected sales person who meets customers in person. He or she is a road warrior who lives for commissions and has bad habits. Hunters are often the highest paid people in the company and they usually have over a decade of experience in sales.

The Outbound Sales Team makes cold calls all day long. Their goal is to make appointments for the Hunter. These people are recent college grads. The nature of the job leads to high turnover, but the really good ones seem to have incredible tenacity, foul mouths, and virtually no fear of rejection.

The Inbound Sales Team is a small group of well-spoken people who love the product and who are eager to please. These people take calls and field emails with the primary goal of closing deals. Short of closing deals, they’ll try to set up meetings with the Hunter. Marketing dollars are spent to make their phones ring. These can also be junior employees.

The Account Manager can be one person or a team, and their job is to maintain, expand and up sell existing clients.

Sales Teams Are Expensive

Startups can’t afford to build these expensive sales teams until they’ve done at least one round of fund raising, so in the meantime, startup CEOs have to play all these roles themselves. This is one reason why most tech startups have a business-focused CEO and a tech-focused CTO. The business guy does all the selling while the tech guy does all the building. Hours get long because the only time to think and talk as a team is after hours.

Build The Sales Team Fast

Once product-market fit is proven, you’ll want to step on the gas immediately by raising enough capital to fund the sales machine (in addition to all your online marketing). Building a sales team takes time and smarts, and is a science in itself. You’ll want to start on that learning curve sooner than later, so that if you do fail, you hurry up and fail fast.

There will be a lot of frustration building the team because salespeople are sometimes better at selling themselves than your products, junior employees manning the phones are always looking for better jobs, and your team is going to suddenly double in size. This is also tough because you’ll need a larger office, real corporate phones, better contact management systems, a whole new way of compensating people based on commissions. It’s all ugly.

Don’t be fooled into thinking everyone can be like 37 Signals, doing 100% of sales through an online self-serve model. Most successful companies, including Facebook and Google, have giant sales teams.

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