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Getting to the First Million Dollars in Sales

26 Dec, 2011 | Andy Mowat

Unless you are one of the few companies with an inherent viral model, building a sales team takes a lot of work. We have seen founders and CEOs make two consistent mistakes (in previous careers we were guilty of these ourselves):

  • Trying to hire a sales team before you prove your model yourself
  • Creating a commission plan before a sales model

As you build your sales team, here are a few simple tips to maximize your chance of success:

  • Do-it-yourself: “Good sales people don’t go to companies with un-proven sales models”. We all think our product / service is the best and should sell itself. But until you know the pitch, objections, pricing strategy… you shouldn’t turn this over to a salesperson who lacks the authority necessary to fix issues uncovered in the sales process. Even if you could attract a sales rock-star at this stage, they likely would fail. So roll-up your sleeves and start selling.
  • Hire a Closer First: Once you have begun to figure out the sales model, don’t immediately turn it over to someone else. Start building your sales team by bringing in people to close the leads you generate.
  • Pay Bonuses, Not Commissions: Resist the urge to pay people on a commission basis until the sales model is refined. You need to know your team can hit targets consistently before tying them into a commission model. If you adopt a commission model too soon, you are apt to spend your time managing compensation expectations rather than improving the sales model. Instead, focus on discretionary bonuses for the time being.
  • Build Your Marketing Funnel: Before your sales model is finished, you need to develop a clear lead generation model. This doesn’t require cold-calling and there are a number of great guides out there (i.e. a recent book by our friend Aaron Ross)
  • Create a Simple Commission Plan: Now, finally you are ready for a commission plan. But, make it simple – you should be able to track it on the back of a napkin, not a whiteboard.

We wish you success as you grow your company. Getting to the first million dollars in sales is the first challenge and we encourage you to focus on sales rather than sales compensation. As you scale, sales productivity will become a challenge and opportunity. For more information on how prialto helps sales teams become more productive, visit www.prialto.com.

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