Learning Curve: Teams of 3

So what is a good size of team when hiring your first full-time sales team, and why hire as a team or more than 1 person?

As we start to build a new sales team, we like many others have had to decide if we hire 1, 2, 3 or more sales people at the same time or not. (something, I have done now at a few companies now.)

The Common accepted wisdom is at least 2, as competition is good. However, this is normally worse than hiring just 1 sales team member. The logic is simple and relates very much to standard psychology.

Given 2 people working on a prolonged task that has a visible impact. 1 will adopt an aggressor leader attitude, the other a subservient follower attitude — it does not actually build natural competitive nature in the majority of cases. This is made worse if the 2 people are of different culture and or sex.

So this leads us to 3 people in a first team, and hence the title of this small article.

Well it turns out that in a group of 3 people, the above scenario leads to 1 of 2 frequent results.

  1. a single leader appears, and the other 2 work together in collaboration (thus the leader effect can actually beneficial, although I hope this does not happen, but each team of 3 people is different, and if you preempt this by encouraging the team on day 1 to work together, it rarely happens.)

2. the team works together from day one, and in a first sales team in a company it is key to have this as they will be helping with the sales learning curve if not directly driving it.

Another benefit of 3 is that in most cases there is high churn in sales, and by having 3 at time we mitigate risk to potential sales targets (this is the biggest issue with just 1 person in sales, by time you realize sales person is not working out for you/the company or the sales person you have lost substantial and highly valuable sales time and worse this increases as you now will loose more time as you panic hire to replace them.

Rarely is your first hire a great hire in sales, it happens but not as much as we would all like.

Another big benefit of a group of 3 at once is that you can focus on bringing them together as a team, and working together at the same time — which is a big investment of time, and considering some sales staff will leave early, the more people you can train effectively on company, process, sales approach and tool-sets the better.

At InstantAPI we are focused on teams of 3, and once targets normalize we will do the next team of 3. Any team members lost will be replaced, again I plan to do an article on sales hiring, and why you always need to be hiring even if your sales team is full. (teams of 3 for support/customer success also works the same way.)

So why not more than 3, now this is a great question in-fact I bounce between 3,4 & 5 — and the choice is literally down to how many inbound/outbound prospects you get and how your conversion funnel works. (I will do a separate article on this, our learning and our current funnel and numbers)

In most cases, everyone underestimates amount of inbound/outbound prospects needed in a funnel for each sales person. (I know we did)

The next article I will be publishing on our Sales Learning Curve, is a quick re-cap on our sales flow for enterprise sales:

prospect -> market qualified-> Sales Qualification -> Negotiation -> win

and things to watch out for, again where we made great mistakes and are still refining and learning; even better we will soon reveal our live numbers/%ages for each stage as the new team in July 2017 kicks into action.

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