Most SaaS-founders close their first paying customers themselves, which is definitely the right way to go (Check out: 8 Tips: How to get your first 10 paying customers). When you hit the first sign of product-market fit, you should hire the first sales rep (in B2B SaaS).
In this blog article, I will share with you 7 bad signs of a failing sales rep. If you see such signs in your company, you should try to replace your first sales rep asap.
1. Lack of product knowledge
A lot of (senior) sales reps, if they start working in an early-stage start-up don't really understand the product. They do not take enough time to understand the customer's perspective, challenges, nor to create a value-selling strategy. Make sure your first sales rep spends enough time to understand the product (& the customer).
2. Not willing to become an industry expert
This point is closely related to point 1. If your sales rep is not willing to deep dive into the industry, gain know-how about the specifics, and want to become an industry expert, that's a bad sign.
3. Not keen on building an industry network
Word of mouth, warm intros, high touch relationships with customers, and referral marketing are key growth strategies in the early stage. That's why it is super important that your customer-facing employees (sales, customer success, support & marketing) grow their industry-relevant network.
4. Always sells with massive discounts
Only being able to sell with massive discounts is a sign of lacking sales skills. Most sales reps use discounts because they have no other idea how to close a deal or create urgency. Make sure your first sales rep knows about value-based selling/solution selling, so they find other ways to convince the customers.
5. Competition focused
The wrong sales reps spend too much time comparing with competition and blame missing product features for unsuccessful sales performance. The best salespeople know the competition well and can adapt their pitch to the competition if needed. For good sales reps competition is just part of the game and they want to beat them.
6. Lacks accountability & blames others
Wrong sales reps blame others and they miss accountability for hitting their goals. Mostly they blame marketing, product, or support. Even if this is usually true, it's a bad sign.
7. Missing growth mindset
Early-stage sales is a really tough game. Mostly you try to convince customers of an early (buggy) MVP. You need to be creative, smart and always find new ways. Great salespeople have a growth mindset.
Two more important points:
- Even if you are not a sales founder, try to sell your first 10–100 (depending on your customer & MRR) customers yourself. If you hire a sales rep straight from the beginning to do the first sales, you’ll never understand it yourself.
- If possible hire two first sales reps at the same time. Why? You can compare both and better understand what works, and what doesn’t.