When building a sales force from scratch for a new(er) business, we have two choices in what kind of sales force to build. We can build a team of experienced professionals with an established network and book of business, or we can hire a younger, hungry, inexperienced sales team.
Experienced professionals demand base salaries, benefits, large marketing budgets, etc. This is profoundly expensive, and often only large, established companies can support such an expensive sales force. A field sales team can work if we hire a experienced salespeople, as these pros don’t need much oversight. They just want a good territory where they can go close big customers all day long.
In contrast, most smaller companies and startups can’t afford this kind of sales force, unless the company has raised substantial outside funding. Inexperienced sales teams do cost a lot less, but they produce less per salesperson, which can mean little actual savings. Inexperienced teams see a lot more turnover. They also require more hand holding and training. All this requires an office (i.e. no field-based reps) and a star salesperson as their leader and coach. However, besides costing less, newer, hungrier salespeople are also easier to train and manage. Company culture is easier to shape and maintain. They have far less ego than the 20-year veterans.
Both strategies have their pros and cons, but I’ll take the younger hungrier team every time. Granted, I’m biased toward solutions that work best for startups, but still, big egos can kill a company as fast as big expenses and slim margins will. Also, I have experience building sales teams, so the thought of training new salespeople doesn’t scare me.
If we need to build a sales team, we must decide which strategy works best for our business model before we start interviewing.