2. hiring & onboarding

How to Build a Sales Team: The science behind When and Who to Hire

Reading time:  7 min  |  Time to finish this chapter: 7 min

There are countless job positions in sales. Positions vary between countries, industries, or even companies. Although most of them require the same traits (high level of communication, interpersonal skills, etc.), none are equal in duties. The bigger the company, the more diverse the sales department is position-wise. It’s not surprising that leaders struggle to pick the right position title or even responsibilities when opening a spot in their sales teams.

Find a clear overview and the best time to hire below. 

Before you start

Two things to consider before starting hiring sales representatives...

a) What is your ACV value (Average Customer Value)

The size of your ACV tells you what type of salespeople you need. Most of the time, it will correlate with their seniority. Your ACV being 8000USD, the sales representative will be mainly calling, closing deals in a matter of minutes. Conversely, an ACV of about 40.000USD will require a senior sales representative who can talk to user-buyers and negotiate with the C-level.

b) Where you find yourself at the moment

We recommend not getting a sales representative before you’re already closing deals regularly. Suppose you’re still trying to find your place on the market. In that case, most probably, the sales representative you’re looking for will be having a diverse job description (acquisitions, retention, a bit of marketing, maybe...). And that’s no job for seniors. The more mature your company gets, the more senior salespeople it will need and attract. Simply put, start with sales or business developers, end with the VP of sales.

Some things have to in place before you add to your team. Make sure you have:

    • found your Product-Market Fit - you know who your clients are, already have some, you know the unique value you bring to each industry you serve

    • set the sales process - the best navigation tool for every newcomer, the way you sell can be easily copied by every new team member

    • a lead generation system - ideally, you don’t even have the time to serve all the leads coming in. Make sure you have enough leads for newbies.

Having all of the three points above will help you hire, adapt, and train the sales team’s new members. After putting all the effort into hiring, don’t let them burn out on non-working processes.

These are your people

The most common types of sales positions on the market

If only there were unity when it comes to sales positions. We’ve seen the VP of sales doing cold calling. We’ve seen a business developer sending out a newsletter. Can you imagine how confusing this can get to people searching for and applying for positions? If you’re having trouble with naming your positions, don’t push it, but at least list requirements and duties as clearly as possible. 
Let’s take it from the “bottom” to the top of the sales hierarchy. Apart from the support, analyst, coordinator, and various specialists positions, these are the most common:

SDR – Sales Development Representative

  • develops relationships with prospects from zero

  • usually in the frontline, the first point of contact, spends a lot of time on the phone and LinkedIn

  • conducts researches, prospects, and generates qualified opportunities for colleagues

Suitable for this position:
a person starting in sales, hungry juniors with excellent communication skills who are not discouraged by being hung up on

BDR – Business Development Representative

  • prospects the market, identifies potential customers, in smaller companies A-Z sales

  • sets cooperation with businesses

  • increases the brand visibility by hosting marketing events

Suitable for this position:
a salesperson with 1 or 2 years of experience, a hunter with excellent communication skills, they are problem solvers and solution finders

AE – Account Executive

  • manages qualified leads, gives presentations and product demos

  • is in constant contact with the potential clients, overcomes objections, builds relationships, solves their needs

  • controls the sales process

  • does the administration and conditions negotiation

Suitable for this position:
a salesperson with a proven track record of closing deals and fulfilling quotas, interpersonal skills well developed, well-spoken, able to present compellingly in front of people.

AM – Account Manager

  • comes in play after a sale is made

  • maintains the relationships with clients, and seeks to upsell opportunities

  • in SaaS, a dedicated AMs are found where the customers’ LTV is high. If it’s low, companies replace their positions with “Customer Success Managers”, who deal with high numbers of customer

Suitable for this position:
similarly to AE - a salesperson with some years of experience, a nurturing person, dedicated “farmer”, excellently monitors and solves problems at clients’

SM – Sales Manager

  • a right-hand of the sales director

  • manages, trains, and supports the team, oversees their performance, set KPIs

  • participates in sales and shadows meetings

Suitable for this position:
a salesperson with 5 - 10 years of experience, knows the sales process, has to have leadership skills and accountability for a team, is capable of motivating and educating the sales team

SD – Sales Director

  • hires in the sales team

  • steps in the big clients’ cases if needed

  • follows sales strategies coming from above

  • prepares budgets

  • reports to VP

Suitable for this position:
a salesperson with around 15 years of experience with sales and 10 years of experience with leadership, thinks analytically, can forecast

VP – Vice President (of Sales)

  • sets up sales strategies, quotas, and commissions

  • attends events and makes brand visible

  • confirms budgets

  • reports to the CEO or the board of directors

Suitable for this position:
very similar to SD in experience, with a stronger focus on analyzing figures, quotas, a stress-resistant veteran

Remember, there is no such thing as a unified hierarchy in sales. Positions quite often overlap. That’s actually fine; just make sure that you’re transparent (from posting an ad to shaking hands) when hiring, so the potential candidates always know what they’re getting into.

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Look at your customers

If you’re not a fan of “labels”, the complexity of your sales tells you all…

It’s mostly the case of younger or small companies, where the sales duties don’t match the standard profile as much. Instead, they usually combine the duties of even several sales positions. If you can’t decide by what the tasks of the salespeople are, find some guidance in your CAC:

$0 – $10
No touch self-service
$50 – $200
Light touch self-service
$1,000 – $2,000
High touch inside sales
$3,000 – $8,000
Field sales
$25,000 – $75,000
Field saleswith SE’s
$75,000 – $200,000

Simply put, the higher the CAC, the more senior salesperson you should look for: 

  • Up to 200 USD, you don’t need a sales representative; it should be easy to sell your solution online with marketing support (Grammarly, Canva, Lusha,…)

  • Sales around 1.000 - 2.000 USD are light-touch, quick sales. Most of the time, they’re inbounds, managed by SDR/BDRs. (HubSpot, Pipedrive, ClickUp,...)

  • Sales up to 8.000 USD are high-touch sales; closing takes a longer time, several approaches by sales representatives like BDR or Account Executive are needed - presentations, demos, meetings, etc.

  • Field sales between 25.000 - 75.000 USD  should be managed by an experienced closer, mainly a senior Account Manager.

  • Field sales above 75.000 USD require a highly skilled sales representative, used to talking to user-buyers and negotiating with C-level. Calls for senior Account Manager, let the director step in.

Looking for the chosen one

Sales Assessment - Test whether a salesperson will succeed in the position

Don’t believe them, just watch. In the time of your interviewing process, employ sales assessment methods. Sales representatives know how to sell themself. Therefore, create a real-life-like scenario and have them show you what they got. Make them perform a cold call, write a cold email or a LI connection request message, conduct a meeting with a prospect, simulate a sales review meeting with a junior colleague, etc. If you don’t know how to run a sales assessment, ask professionals to help you out or do the whole process for you.

Final tips for (hiring) managers:

    • Don’t forget that hiring is a “give and get” process. Hiring is not just about what you look for in salespeople. If your requirements are high, make sure they match the offer. 

    • Watch out for the most common cliche – whether they’ll try to “talk you to death”. For some reason, it’s still believed that sales representatives should talk, and that’s how they sell. It's the opposite; salespeople should listen 70-80% of the time.

    • Consider onboarding 2 people at the same time. Not only will you save time, but you’ll also have more data about performance and the onboarding process. It’ll also create a friendly competition atmosphere in the team.

    Activity report in RAYNET

    When you use a calendar in RAYNET CRM it is automatically monitoring sales rep activities. So the activity report is just click away…


    Wrapping it up:

    Take our “sales hierarchy” just as a basic overview. Obviously, each company is different. Startup companies will have an absolutely different sales department from those already established on the market. However, try to name the open sales position so it’s not misleading. Always be transparent with the related duties. 
    Before you hire (again), check whether you have the 3 essential things in place: you found a product-market fit, set a sales process, and have a working lead-gen system. After that, consider your ACV and where you find yourself atm - it will tell you whether and whom you should hire. Remember to assess each potential hire on their sales skills. You might save both sides some valuable time. 


    How to set up a sale process and its crucial milestones

    This chapter will teach you how to set up a sales process that would make the job of your salespeople much easier and bring you more successful deals.


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