Building Sales Teams: How, When and Who
Mandy Cole — Zenefits VP Sales, Sam Jacobs — Livestream SVP Sales & Marketing, Brendon Cassidy — VP Sales Talkdesk
Q: When is it appropriate to start a sales team?
- The founders should have closed the first 10–20 deals
- These first customers are happy and ready to renew
- You have understood what will be the challenges that your sales team will experience
- You have product — market fit
Q: How do you start your sales team?
- First hire a couple of reps and think of a VP of sales later
- You need to understand the unit economic of a salesperson (a.k.a it’s not only the salary but also the costs associated with the cost of lead generation that he needs etc. see Tunguz post for more details)
- No leads no salespeople. Have your lead generation process up and running before you jump in.
Q: What do you look for the 1st reps?
- Prefer culture fit and curiosity over experience
- Perseverance (for example “athletes” are generally more perseverant, looks for traits like these).
- An experienced sales person in a big company can be the wrong choice because he might not know how to sell a product which doesn’t have a big brand already or how to sale an early stage product.
Q: Where do you find them?
- With effective recruiters
- On Linkedin
- Out of good colleges
- Through referral
- You, as the VP of sales you need to be a driver as well. You need to attract people who are motivated to work with you because they think it will improve their career.
Q: What drives millennials?
- They need to feel that they make a difference
- They need clear expectation
- They value autonomy and mastery (that they will grow as well as with the company)
- Structure the sales “progression’s path” when you are around $1–2M ARR (first 6 months they start as sales rep, then they can become X, after Z months they can choose between Y and Z)
Q: how do you know you have to off-board a sales reps?
- When in doubt ask yourself: Can he do it? Can he be taught? If he can’t do it but can be taught that’s ok. If he can’t do it and can’t be taught then you know what to do.
- Quotas => lots of schools out there and it depends on your sales philosophy. For example one: you should constantly have 80% of reps doing their quota.
- Red flag if he doesn’t reach his quota 3 months in a row
Managing and Scaling Globally (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly)
Christoph Janz — Managing Partner Point Nine Capital, Matt Price Zendesk SVP Global Marketing, Nicolas Dessaigne Algolia CEO, Louis Jonckheere Showpad CEO
This talk was about non US companies going global and what were the key learnings on the way.
Q: When did you realize that you had to be a global company?
- From day 1 (Algolia, Showpad, Zendesk)
Q: How do you hire to be global?
- You have to understand that from a cultural pov people sale themselves very differently from one country to the other. So you need to learn and to adapt.
- North American sell themselves better but very often they “oversell”, European keep lower profile.
- When recruiting in the US, preferably one of the founders has to live there. For instance at Algolia all the first US hires that were made before Nicolas relocated are all gone.
- Even more important to do reference checks
Q: What does it changes in term of customer acquisition?
- Zendesk saw no significant differences until they went upmarket and started to sell to Fortune 500 companies.
- The advantage of the US market is that it’s a big homogenous market, whereas Europe is a fragmented one.
- Scaling in Europe = have a country manager and a local team in the major countries
Q: Should European founders directly start in the US?
- Showpad: start your company in EU, build your product there, find product market fit there and then move to SF once you are scaling.
- Algolia: it’s a big advantage for EU startups to be able to have their engineering team in their home country.
Q: How do you scale in terms of offices and organisation?
- Showpad: product team is in the US and the engineering team in EU.
- Culture is very important to make it work: 1- be transparent, 2- over-communicate 3- make sure the whole team gather together at least once per year.
- Algolia started to hire non french speaking people in their french office
Whale Hunting: Negotiating, Handling, and Closing
Shep Maher — Guidespark SVP Sales, Andrea Austin VP Insideview Enterprise Sales, Marc Jacobs — Greenhouse Software VP Sales
Q: What the best way to get the attention of decision makers?
- The best way to get in touch with your first customers is always through your own network.
- Most common mistake made by early stage companies: talk about themselves and their product instead of talking of the customer problems.
- Decision makers dont care that you have the best product out there, you need to map your value proposition to their specific needs.
- In the enterprise world the very concept of “decision maker” is changing. More and more software are brought by employees themselves and that changes the game.