Depth Versus Density on a Sales Team

density-over-depthInstinctively, when leaders of a startup begin hiring sales and marketing staff to start off their go-to-market strategy, they’re convinced that all they need is one warrior to go out there and build a warrior class beneath him. People who have selling skill have a big Rolodex, they’re smooth, and they know how to start the process. But that’s not all you need.

Slow down, back up a little bit. Look for the EQ part of this.

Depth over Density

My thought is this: get people who have a better understanding of the business and political issues of your target clients. Seek out people who know how they would connect with those clients effectively by utilizing that intelligence. That’s where account streams can start. Instead of hiring ten people right off the bat and a golden child type sales person, hire two or three who really know how to focus on gathering client intelligence.

If you do this instead, you’re hiring people who are already connected to your target clients, in your target vertical, and they’re pushing for an understanding of deeper values within their organization.  These people are interested in who would own the business decision and who would be writing the check—not who would technically understand your offering or your product.

What we do

When I begin working with a startup client who is working on their go-to-market strategy, I start with what I call “peeling it all back.” I believe that the impact of what you do is more important than what it is that you do. I’m curious about the person who is going to own the impact on the clients side and how to start that connection process. The goal is to hire less sales people people in the beginning phase, be more strategic about where you spend your time pursuing work, and you will ultimately move faster toward profitability.

The reason is this: when an investor looks at a list of startups, chances are they’re thinking that all of these people have good ideas and they could get along with any of them. There needs to be a story that sets you a part from the rest. When they understand the context of your business, that’s what resonates. If an investor sees you working hard to connect your impact to a client’s issues, you have potential for a differentiation.

Here’s The Bottom Line…

When hiring, have confidence that they will be able to grasp the context of those individual businesses. Because that’s what top client leadership listens to. And you can’t fake that.


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