Not usually in the early days. But as time marches on — It’s a huge risk.
One piece of “evidence” — a lot of fairly successful SaaS startups all sell at about the same point in time … about 5 years in. Because the founders get just too burnt out around Year 4 … and as Year 5 rolls in, they’re running a bit on fumes, and … they sell. Or take a bad venture deal. Or just plain start to give up a little. Often, as it’s just finally getting good.
My Top 10 suggestions to avoid long-term burn-out:
Hire that Extra VP — a True Owner. Don’t try to save a few nickels here. You’re responsible for everything as it is. But you have to own less as you scale. Find 1 or 2 or 3 truly great VPs that Continue reading "10 Tips To Avoid SaaS Burnout"
Finding the perfect VP of Sales position can be daunting, especially in the middle of a global pandemic. Candidates need to find opportunities that not only fit their sales experience and stretch goals, but also companies that are coming out of the pandemic with momentum. Add all of these considerations to an already competitive job market, and the search may seem insurmountable. Take heart, with the stock market still performing well into 2021 and vaccines beginning distribution across the United States, things are looking up. Now is the perfect time to find your destined VP of Sales position, even if you’re still in the Bay Area.To help you with your search, we’ve compiled a list of sales leadership opportunities from around our community to help connect leading startups with the best candidates.
Who is looking to hire a VP of Sales in January / Q1?
I agree with most Start-Up Truisms. One of the best ones is Don’t Chase the Shiny Penny. Double Down on What Works.
For sure this is true in SaaS. If you’ve got a good thing in a certain vertical, double down there. If you have mid-market customers but not many in the enterprise or low-end, focus there even more this year. Etc., etc.
And yet …
What tends to happen for most SaaS businesses even as early as $2m ARR or so, is that they get a core engine that’s working. At least at 20,000 feet. It’s hard, yes. But assuming you execute, and the leads continue to come in, etc. … you should grow say 100% over the next 12 months. Based just on the velocity rate from the past X months.
I completely agree you should spend 90%+ of your time just doing what’s working, only better,
We’ve talked a lot on SaaStr about how to make that critical hire: the VP Sales. I’ve done it right, and I’ve done it wrong. When it’s good … it’s just so good. It all clicks. But when you make a mis-hire, it’s about the worst mis-hire you can make. Because you’ll lose not just some incremental revenue, but potentially far more. All the second-order revenue you could have had (6x the initial lost revenue). You’ll end up with a crummy sales team under a mis-hire. And you’ll get lost. You can end up in a Year of Hell.
So I’ve tried to help here. We’ve posted a script to use when interviewing a VP Sales. A guideline to what phase and type to hire. And lessons learned on what a VP Sales really does.
And yet …
Even with all that …You may screw it up. In fact,
There’s an interesting corollary to the fact that the best SaaS companies grow faster than ever today.
The corollary is that the window to hire a Stretch VP is shorter than ever.
If you hit $1m ARR growing 6-8% a month, you can probably hire a Stretch VP of Sales any time the following 12 months.
If you hit $1m ARR growing 15-20% a month, you probably only have a 3-6 month window to hire a Stretch VP of Sales. Before you outgrow her too quickly.
We’ve talked a lot about Stretch VP hires on SaaStr, and Brendon Cassidy did a great dedicated piece here recently.
The reality is when you go to hire your VPs, you’ll be left with 4 types: 1) Stretch, 2) Absolutely Perfect, 3) Too “Heavy” — (i.e., needs too much infrastructure to scale at your stage), 4) Nice LinkedIn / Resume — But Continue reading "If You Are Going to Hire a Stretch VP — Do It Early."
I hear again and again from SaaS founders growing to $5m, $10m ARR or even more that they don’t need a certain VP — with the exception of a VP of Sales. That they can get away without no one in the role, or a just a junior person in marketing, in product, in success, in biz dev, etc.
Basically, in SaaS, everyone “gets” that they need a VP of Sales. Even if they’ve never sold anything before. They don’t have enough customers, enough velocity, so they get they need someone to help them do better in “sales”. Now they often expect a magician, as we’ve discussed here. But, as founders, at least as we cross $1-$1.5m in ARR, get to Initial Traction, we then realize we have to scale. Hire not just 1-2 reps, but 10. To get to $5m-$10m ARR and beyond, we’ll Continue reading "If You Don’t Think You Need a VP of Product, VP of Marketing, Etc. — Then You Haven’t Worked With a Great One"
At @Mailchimp, US customers’ email marketing activity is up 15% since the beginning of the pandemic compared to the same time last year. Email will continue to be an effective way for entrepreneurs to connect with their audience and meet them where they are in 2021 and beyond. https://t.co/wWmU2AGYu6
Start-ups aren’t democracies, no matter what some employees may think. The CEO is the CEO, and the founders are the founders.
But start-ups also aren’t IBM or Cisco. Or even, anything like DropBox or Slack or Box or Hubspot, not organizationally at least.
From 1-10 employees, it’s a family. After 150 or so, somewhere in there, it starts to become a traditional hierarchical structure.
In between … from 10ish employees to 1X0ish … a start-up is something unique. Something organic. A couple of platoons. An organization that has come together voluntarily to take on a mission, at least in part. Later, it’s just a job. Maybe a cool job, but just a job. But from 10-150, it’s no longer a (squabbling?) family, but for many of your team, it’s more than just the best way to pay the rent.
And in this phase, most likely, at least once — the troops will revolt.Continue reading "When The Team Revolts"