When is the right time to add a salesperson?

For as long as I can remember, when B2B companies wanted to increase sales, their go to method was to hire more sales reps and let them sink or swim. Give them a list and let them start banging on the phones. 

I can almost guarantee that in most industries this method is going fail today. It won’t be predictable like it used to be.

Paul Rafferty, CEO of Sales Engine, talks about when to add salespeople

The buyer’s journey has changed. We may not have liked talking to sales people in the past, or fielding cold calls, but that’s how we got the information we needed. We don’t anymore. I can search online and find what I’m looking for and I’ll talk to a salesperson only when I’m ready. 

And I would bet that you do it too. (Think about the last item that you purchased and how much of that information you got from the internet versus talking to a salesperson).

So when is the right time to add salespeople? 

I get this question a lot. And my first question back to them is: How is your first rep (or current reps) doing? Are they so busy because of the opportunities that they have in front of them that they can’t handle any more?

The short answer is that you don’t add sales reps until the one you have are crying Uncle because they can’t keep up. 

What you need to do is feed those reps with a demand generation program. I like to use the analogy of a mother bird who comes to the nest and all the little birds are sitting with their mouth open for the mother to put the worms in.  That’s what marketing has to be to the sales team.  

Sales can’t do it themselves anymore.  They used to, but with the digital shift and the ability of prospects and customers to educate themselves, the whole marketing process, the digital demand creation process is critical, 

One other suggestion is to make sure you have a middle tier in the form of a business development rep or inside sales rep  who is happy to nurture and call prospects until they’re sales ready.  Then turn it over to your closer. Again—that’s when you need more sales reps, but put your investments in the other two buckets before you add more to your direct sales team.