As the founder of a start-up, especially in the tech or SaaS domain, one of the pivotal decisions you’ll face is structuring your sales team. A question I often encounter from founders at this crucial moment is whether to hire a VP of Sales or a Sales Development Representative (SDR) first. While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, my experience in recruiting for over 150 start-ups and scale-ups in technology has given me insight into what you should consider during these early stages.
Understanding the difference
A VP of Sales often comes with a wealth of experience and a strategic mindset, capable of steering your sales team towards long-term goals. They are instrumental in building and scaling your sales processes, aligning them with the company’s overall strategy. However, attracting a seasoned VP requires not just a compelling vision but also the credibility and financial stability to back it up.
On the flip side, an SDR brings energy and drive to your team, focusing on generating leads and qualifying prospects. They are crucial in the initial stages of your sales pipeline, laying the groundwork for future deals. While finding SDRs eager to jump into a start-up environment can be challenging, their role is essential in establishing your presence in the market.
1. Attracting the right talent:
Consider who you can realistically attract at your current stage. A VP of Sales requires a mix of credibility and financial incentives. Are you prepared to offer equity stakes to attract a high-calibre VP of Sales? On the other hand, an SDR might be looking for growth opportunities and a dynamic work environment. Are they going to get these?
2. Good stories to share:
Do you have enough successful case studies that can be easily replicated and utilized in sales pitches? This factor can significantly influence the ease with which either a VP of Sales or an SDR can operate.
3. Clear Ideal Customer Profile:
Is your ICP well-defined and clear? An SDR tasked with researching and defining the ICP from scratch can be a tall order, especially for a start-up.
It’s not a this or that situation
In the end, deciding between a VP of Sales and an SDR isn’t just about filling a position; it’s about aligning your hiring strategy with your company’s stage of growth and long-term vision, as well as needs. Remember, it’s not merely about “what” you need but also about “who” you can attract and sustain at this stage of your journey.
Do you think differently? Or did you find yourself in need of a sales professional but struggle to find the right person? I’m more than happy to have a chat with you. Find me on LinkedIn or just give me a call: +32 471 64 90 09.
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