Are Salespeople disposable? Who should you hire as your first salesperson? And how will sales affect the company culture? Oleg Rogynskyy from People.ai shares his experience with managing sales teams and gives some good advice to CEOs and founders on the verge of appointing their first salesperson.
Oleg Rogynskyy is the CEO and founder of People.ai, a company using technologies to solve the age-old problem of making people management data driven. He has a passion for data science, machine learning and text analytics. Prior to People.ai, Oleg helped start and scale three big data companies, including his own company Semantria.
First of all, Oleg prefers to look for consistency in a sales person. You want someone who performs on regular basis, not someone who occasionally brings out the big guns while underachieving at other times. Second, you want someone who is hungry and fearless - especially if you have a new company.
“They will fight for you on the frontlines. And make broken things look less broken and probably even overpromise and put their reputation on the line while you are standing behind them and urgently fixing bugs that you shipped last night.”
This person might be very different from the person making sales in bigger companies. The skills sets and specialities they have need to match with your requirements.
Generally speaking, salespeople are numbers people. Some are motivated primarily by money, Oleg argues. Some are in it for the hunt and love the negotiations part of the job. Others just like the kind of work where you need to have several balls in the air at the same time. Since the motivation behind sales is very different from motivational factors in other teams it might be hard to find out which sales types would fit into the company DNA. The very first sales person is probably going to be your sales leader and will affect how the sales subculture is going to be.
Hopefully the subcultures of the company will not clash too much. However, some tension is inevitable, Oleg argues. And not only is it inevitable, it is healthy for the overall performance of the company. This is what he calls checks and balances; sales keep marketing and product in check, and vice versa.
As the CEO and founder of People.ai Oleg Rogynskyy is a firm believer in data and how making sales teams data driven will make salespeople less disposable.
“To be honest, until now it’s been: I have no idea what’s wrong with you. I’m gonna fire your ass.”
If you don’t have data, you as a manager will have a hard time figuring out why, when and how a salesperson is underperforming. So if sales go down you might just dispose of that salesperson. In the same way, if you don’t have data to support your sales forecasting, then…
“... your sales forecastings are more like prayers.”
You have to treat sales as a science, not an artform.
With data you will be able to identify how, when and why every person on the team performs either good or bad. Behavior leading to good performance will be taught to other team members and behavior leading nowhere will be improved. In a sense, you will be able to unlock potential otherwise lost.
To learn more, listen to the podcast above.