Rajan, the CEO, had been working very hard to sell to the initial few customers for his new startup. With a few Sales coming in, he had actually started enjoying it too - he was seeing those early signs of success but was too overwhelmed with the process as well, as next ahead, lied- funding, hiring and the focus on all other departments and Sales was just taking too much time. So, he started thinking about how best to structure the team for the next phase of growth!
The first thing a company does post achieving the product market fit (PMF) in Saas is to think about hiring and scaling their Sales team.
Why not? Sales brings the bread and butter for the company, it ensures the salaries of the other departments keep running smoothly.
Below are a few models that a company adopts at different stages of their growth.
Founder Led Sales -- >
When a company starts, it’s often Rajan’s case - founders take upon the job of selling the product themselves - a typical model known as “Founder Led Sales”.
The founders though have multiple roles to play in a startup and hence soon they want someone to be hired. The first hire they look for is often a “Pathfinder”, someone who knows to live without processes and is able to find their road on their own with minimum help and supervision - that frees up time for the founders as they only need to provide directional help.
These folks independently start bringing in Sales reporting directly to the founder.
Island Model ->
Often the first few hires are responsible for hiring more people and it slowly converts into an “island model” - where most sellers do end to end selling (discovery to close) and report to the founder.
With time, one/few of the senior Sales reps takes the position of a manager who takes up the team’s reporting - this is a typical structure in the USD 0-1M journey for any B2B Saas Startup.
Assembly Line ->
With growth, the business starts giving triggers that at any time when the Sales reps start spending too much time on one aspect of the role, specialise it.
For instance, if the discovery /qualification of leads starts to take too much time and reps are spending more time qualifying than closing, hire someone dedicated to do the disco/qualification. Similarly have Account management and Customer Success responsible for farming and retention.
This specialises the roles and ensures deeper focus on each aspect of the role.
This structure is most popular in companies as it offers scale - this offers repeatability as the process is set and it’s all about execution now.
The POD Model ->
This model works like the assembly line just that pod’s success as a whole is given more importance than individual success. So, a SDR -> AE -> CSM form a POD and are together measured against another pod with the same folks, this is great for company goals. If individual reps are struggling, there is all the more incentive for the team members to assist and better their performance.
The drawback is it hinders individual performance and can limit the growth of a salesperson as an individual if other members of the POD aren’t performing well enough.
The Assembly line is the most popular structure adopted by mid sized companies that helps keep the focus on individual roles and promote specialisation in the role. It’s easy to isolate any challenge in the funnel to deeper investigate what part of the engine isn’t working as great, for instance if SDRs are converting less leads (MQL -> SQL), that can be tracked against other SDRs and solely focused upon to better the performance.