When to Hire Your First Sales Rep

7 minutes

When to Hire Your First Sales Rep

For many businesses, the first hire is the most important but it's very identify when it should happen. When it comes to hiring your first salesperson, things are a bit different. There's unfortunately no straight answer to the question nor is there mathematical formula where you input your revenue, company size and objectives and get a yes/no answer.

So, in this article we're going to run through some concrete benchmarks that'll help you determine whether you should hire your first full-time salesperson.

What's Your Current Situation?

The first thing to do is have a look at who you already have in your team plus how many sales have you generated so far? When it comes to young companies thinking of whether they should hire, we typically see three different categories.

One Man Show

An extremely common scenario seen in young start-ups where the founder or CEO is the only salesperson. They're the most passionate about the product/service in the world and understand it better than anyone. On top of selling their solution to clients, they've also sold the idea to investors and other team team members. Although this is the natural first-step for new businesses, it's unsustainable. As the business grows, the CEO takes on more responsibilities and they need to allocate their time elsewhere.

BDM on Board

This group of companies have hired a business development manager (BDM) who is responsible for managing the overall growth of the business and building strategic partnerships. This is typically one of the early hires and having one onboard indicates that some form of a sales process has already been established or is getting there.

Hired a Marketing Manager

It's no secret the effect good marketing has on a company's growth and is a reason why many hire a marketing manager quite early on. For many businesses, the marketing manager is hired before a salesperson. For some, this is like putting the cart before the horse as if you're generating warm leads, you need a salesperson that can close them.

In addition to your current team, you also need to look at your budget and expect income and funding. When it comes to budgeting, we strongly recommend taking into account the below.

  1. How many sales have you already won/closed?
  2. How many customers do you currently have?
  3. How much can you afford to pay your salesperson? Remember, good salespeople are in high demand and very money-driven.
  4. What's the expected ramp up time until they reach full productivity?
  5. How long is your sales cycle?

How Will You Know When?

With budget and resources considered, the question then becomes when is the right time to hire a salesperson to close more deals? Below, we've included four benchmarks to consider.

You Have 10 Clients

Why 10? It's because 10 clients does two things:

  1. It validates that people actually want to buy your product
  2. It indicates that you know how to sell your product

Anything less than 10 is dangerous as you're hiring somebody to do something you've never done before. And you're supposed to be the person who understands your solution the best.

10 clients means your product/service is validated and sellable. You know that people are willing to buy your solution and that your solution is solving the challenges of a handful of businesses. This confirms that hiring a salesperson won't be a waste of money of your time.

Furthermore, you've personally sold your solution and understand what your prospects are looking for. You know their pain points, objections and reasons for lost and won deals. When it then comes down to hiring your first salesperson, you now have some knowledge of best practices, objection handling and the sales process.

You Have a Developed Sales Process

A critical component for any sales effort is a repeatable sales process. Before you can bring a salesperson on board, it's recommended that this be in place so they have guidance and understand the best practices when closing prospects.

When it comes to a successful business, we believe in the three P's:

  1. Product
  2. People
  3. Process

You need to have the right product, employ the right people and have the right processes in place. The third component is something we cannot emphasise enough. We recommend you start by creating a sales playbook. You can check out our article on How to Build a Sales Playbook and download the template provided.

You Have a Lead Gen Strategy

The first salesperson you bring onboard is typically allocated to closing deals (as opposed to prospecting). For that to happen, you need to have a source of leads for them to nurture and close. These leads can be generated in two ways:

  1. Cold Leads - through database building and manual prospecting (cold calls, cold email, LinkedIn etc.)
  2. Inbound Leads - through paid advertising, content downloads, SEO and social media

When it comes to cold leads, there are many different ways to prospect and build your list. You can also look at partnering with a lead generation business like Fide to set the appointments or build the database.

Inbound leads require an effective and predictable marketing strategy. Leads generated through marketing efforts are always warmer than cold leads and should be a focus of any growing business. These leads have already engaged with your business in some form or another and either expressed an interest to buy or expressed that they have a problem that your business can solve.

Whether you're generating cold or warm leads, you need to make sure the process is both predictable and scalable. The last thing you want is to bring on a hire and have them difficulty creating opportunities for their pipeline.

For B2B businesses, we always strongly recommend employing an SDR (sales development rep) whose sole purpose is to prospect and generate appointments for a closing rep. Alternatively, you can look at outsourcing your appointment setting efforts.

The Different Sales Hires


The role of an SDR is to create opportunities for another salesperson or the founder. Their day is spent using the ideal customer profile you've created, building a database of similar or target accounts, and then reaching out via cold calls, email, or LinkedIn to try and qualify the prospect and then book an appointment. SDRs can also be used to qualify inbound leads before handing them over to team member for closing.'

We recommend that every business have an SDR or outsource their prospecting. It allows businesses to have a constant flow of leads plus target their ideal customers instead of waiting for prospects to come through via inbound marketing.

Full-time Closer

The full-time closer is typically the obvious hire but we recommend waiting until you have a consistent flow of leads. Reason being, this is a huge step. Great salespeople are in high demand and typically motivated by money. This means a base salary combined with a commission structure that incentivises them to close more deals. An average salesperson expects a salary above $65K AUD and with on-target earnings being the other 40-60% of their earnings. And remember, this is an average closer. You can cut their wages by offering equity but in our experience, the best salespeople are competitive and money-driven.

Commission Only

This is another alternative but very difficult in Australia. Commission only salespeople are only paid based on revenue generated or deals closed. At Fide, we're not fans of the commission only model. Our reasoning is that paying somebody commission only suggests that you're not willing to invest time and resources into them. On top of that, if the job is difficult or sales cycle long, they're the first people to bail and you don't blame them - they have bills to pay and can't wait 3 months for their first deal to close.

Our Advice: Build a Process First

At the end of the day, our biggest piece of advice is to build a proven sales process first. Businesses cannot afford to ignore process and product as it's a very expensive mistake.

We hope this article assists you in finding clarity on whether you should hire your first salesperson. If you're considering hiring a salesperson to focus on lead gen, we suggest getting in touch with us today to talk about our B2B appointment setting service.

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