In my discussions with B2B founders and investors around hiring, one of the things that doesn’t come up more often is how challenging it is to hire a good sales leader early on. However, the problem is even more serious when we’re talking about B2B tech companies focusing on the Indian market.
Image : shutterstock
Jason Lemkin, Founder of SaaStr and one of the foremost thought leaders in the enterprise software (primarily SaaS) space, has a treasure trove of material on hiring sales folks (and sales leaders). One of the frameworks he speaks about are the different kinds of senior sales folks/leaders or potential VP sales folks that a company needs at different stages of their SaaS journey.
In his post, he says that once you get up to $1 million annual recurring revenue(ARR), you need an evangelist who can get the buzz going and get early customers (either through their rolodex or via references). Post that, you need a person who can hire great folks, put in repeatable processes, and create that machine which will be able to drive contract values up and make the most of the little initial traction that you’ve seen (with the limited PR that you might have). After that, the VP of sales will come and scale things up.
Image source: SaaStr
The right VP of Sales, according to Lemkin, is one of the most critical hire in the journey of an early-stage SaaS company (or any other enterprise company for that matter). The hardest among these is the “Mr. Make it Repeatable.” (you can read his post to find out why). And Lemkin talks about it being super hard to find a good person. And he’s only talking about the US.
In India, the challenges in finding such a “Mr. Make it Repeatable” person include:
In 99 out of 100 cases, if you’re an Indian SaaS B2B business that has seen early traction or product market fit (say $200K‑$500K ARR) and you are looking to hire a VP Sales to take you through scalable product market fit (say $5M+ ARR), you might end up with a VP Sales who either:
For example, if you take a look at the B2B SaaS companies in India selling to Indian customers, their average tenure of the early-stage Director/VP Sales is maximum six to 12 months.
For starters, it means that the next five years are going to be very exciting because a new breed of sales leaders, who are adept at scaling a SaaS company within India, are going to emerge from India(there aren’t many yet, but they will come in the next five years).
It also means that if you are currently trying to find a senior sales leader, you are going to have a tough time finding the right one. Some of the things worth trying are:
I spend a lot of time trying to find new interest/skill-specific communities. In the last few years while there have been enough communities around tech/IT, design, analytics, finance and now even marketing/growth hacking, I have yet to come across serious communities around sales. The early adopter here is iSpirt. I think there’s a great need and opportunity to create a community around sales (and primarily tech enterprise sales).
How did you find your senior sales leaders and how did that work out for you? Would love to hear from you guys either in the comments section below or through email, I am on firstname.lastname@example.org
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)