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0-50 sales reps in 3 years

Anders Holmberg
April 03, 2020

Here it is, our biggest learnings and the mistakes along the way that brought us forward! From an outside perspective, working at a scaling start-up can seem like a walk in the park. Cool products that everyone wants and then just like magic the business grows...

In reality, there is enough sweat and tears to fill the Victoria lake… when I joined GetAccept as employee #4 to build the sales team in Sweden I kind of knew what was coming but at the same time, I couldn't imagine all of the new insights this journey would give me. 

So here it is, my biggest learnings and mistakes along the way!

First 10 is so important
When scaling – the foundation needs to be strong. That means product/market fit, solid founding team and decent processes to get going. But most importantly – your first 10 hires are going to be your most important ones. Choose them wisely and make sure they know how important they are.

Promoting or recruiting externally is a difficult choice
As your team grows, new ways of structuring them will be needed to align with the size of the organization, which means that new roles will emerge. Then you have a choice,  either promote internally or hire externally. I wish I would have spent more time thinking about the chain of consequences those decisions would give, as it is one of the most difficult choices of any growing team.

Balance short & long term
Short terms there are always deals to close, customers to support colleagues to coach.  I wish I would have set aside some more time working on non-urgent but important topics. At times, we have focused too much on the short term, leaving us with even bigger challenges to solve further down the road.

Sales Process -> Sales coaching Process -> Now Sales Management Process

In the beginning, we spent a lot of time figuring out a sales process and a way of working that would enable us to sell fast with high customer satisfaction. When we hired more people, the natural new focus that became was to coach and help the new people to succeed. 

Now – when we have 5 regions with 7 sales managers – the focus has shifted again to staff managing skills and how to create and develop strong middle managers. I knew it was coming, we discussed it several times, but if I had to re-do everything I would have focused more on creating clearer management training and a process for that earlier.

On/off-boarding takes time - get help internally
During the last three years, we have hired 59 persons within sales in the EU. 52 are still with us and 3 has moved to other internal departments. Now, finally we have a brilliant internal HR resource to help with these processes & situations, but for too long this was a too big part of my everyday work. It still accounts for about 25% of my time and is still a big part of my job, but I wish we would have gotten that HR person on board 1,5 years ago – that would have made a big difference.

Make sure you know the metrics
Everyone wants to work data-driven, and I’m a big fan of clear trackable KPI:s that all reps know about and can use to follow how things are going and what needs to be improved.  Still, some KPI:s that are clear to me now – wasn’t clear a year ago. 

Find your 5 top KPI:s.

📍Remember them
📍Follow them 
📍Become obsessed with them 
📍Marry them if needed

Make sure the company keeps up
We offer a solution that helps sales organizations to sell more and on top of that, we are an extremely sales-driven company ourselves. Basically, sales are what we have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So when scaling our business, that initially (more or less) meant scaling the sales team. During the last few months, the focus has somewhat shifted, and we are adding even more resources to R&D, marketing, HR & operations. For sales to work, everything needs to work. It is the final outcome of all departments’ combined efforts. If you are Head of sales – it means also taking ownership and collaborating with the rest of the company that is needed to reach the targets. I wish I would have spent more time with other departments a year ago.

Guides are good - but it’s hard to have them followed
I’m a process guy – I just love setting up routines and then seeing them come to life and getting predictable results. However – now at 50 reps – creating the guides is only 20% of the challenge. The rest comes from making sure the processes are followed. This requires internal selling: everyone needs to understand the why, how, what and when. Also, much focus is needed to follow up on the responsible stakeholder(s). That takes time and I wish I would have realized that earlier.

Coachable persons are the best hires
If there is one trait I would go for when it comes to hiring in sales – it would be coachable persons. The ones that are willing to learn, open to change and ready to adapt will always be your biggest assets and the easiest to work with. The world is changing and our way of working will always evolve, that’s why you need team members that can quickly adapt and leave old ways of working behind if they are outdated. That includes me.

Say THANK YOU
In sales – we are so focused on numbers and results that we sometimes forget the people behind them. Winner’s self-esteem blows through the roof while underperformers feel miserable. Sales are tough, it affects the way you view yourself and ultimately how much you like yourself. This will then off course affect your ability to perform. Don’t just give feedback on results – also make sure everyone knows they are valued and respected for who they are. A simple but honest thank you or genuine question about how a person is feeling can create wonders for the culture and teamwork.

So to everyone I have had the pleasure to work with at GetAccept – Tack så mycket, merci beaucop, tusen takk, tusind tak & Thank you so much!

Have you grown a sales team? What is your biggest learning? Feel free to connect or comment on this topic!

Also read: Recruiting sales reps is easy. Recruiting top sales reps - not as easy, 20 interview questions and the answers you want to hear!

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GetAccept change and simplifies a seller's processes and allows the digital signing of the agreement to take place on the customer's terms with the seller's control. Read more about our product and how you can streamline your sales processes with sales enablement! 

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