Growth Frameworks

Building Your Sales Organization: Key Sales Hires to Grow Your Team

In today’s dynamic talent market, leaders of growth-stage companies are working hard to scale their teams to maximize productivity and performance and optimize efficiency. As companies grow, many move away from a generalist hiring model and work instead to build a team of dedicated subject matter experts. In our experience, this shift to a specialist model can help an organization give appropriate attention to key growth levers in the business – and it’s a shift that we believe can be particularly impactful in the context of your sales organization. So, how do you think more strategically about building your sales organization in the current environment?

Below, we share four strategic hires that we believe can help transform your sales team and give them the boost they need to beat their targets.

Role #1:
Revenue Operations Manager (with a Minor in Data Science)

We often connect with growth stage companies that are struggling to build better visibility into their sales pipeline and revenue / bookings forecast. If you find yourself in the same boat, a revenue operations manager might help. This isn’t your CRM administrator, and it’s not someone who creates reports and dashboards for your senior management team. In our experience, the new breed of revenue ops managers are data junkies who want to get their hands around as much data as possible and create predictive models using code like Python or Java. If you’ve ever read the book “Superforecasting”, you will recognize this team member as someone who is constantly thinking about what the future will hold based on trending historical data. So, why do you need a revenue ops manager, and what does great look like in this role?

  • Why do you need a revenue operations manager? We often see companies leaning too heavily on point-in-time data; many do not dedicate time and resources to conduct trending analyses. Outside of sales forecasting, few teams leverage historical data to actively forecast the immediate- and medium-term future across multiple key metrics. A dedicated revenue operations manager can help you address that challenge head-on.
  • What does ‘great’ look like in this role? A revenue operations manager, particularly one who brings a facility with data science, can make a meaningful impact on your business, supporting your team’s ability to see around corners and enabling dexterity around your go-to-market strategy and resource allocation decisions. We believe the best candidates for this role should bring facility with data, an interest in connecting your data to human behaviors (those of your customer and your sales team) and great intuition for your key business drivers.

Role #2:
MDM Manager

Do you have conflicting data sources? Does your team lack a single source of truth with respect to reporting metrics? A Master Data Management (MDM) specialist can help tackle this challenge head on. This role is responsible for getting their arms around your organization’s disparate data sources and creating rationalized and harmonized data depositories. They create the translation between different data sources so functional teams can still operate in their silos while eliminating confusion at the senior management / C-Suite levels. And they may serve as an integral part of your company’s overall data strategy. So, why do you need an MDM manager, and what does great look like in this role?

  • Why do you need an MDM manager? Do your meetings often get derailed, or your progress stymied by your team’s ongoing debates about sources of data and how data don’t tie? Does your data go into a black box that turns out to be someone’s Excel sheet or data warehouse? Is it nearly unrecognizable when it’s returned to you? Does your definition of key metric XYZ conflict with the definition described by your cross-functional counterpart? An MDM manager can help rationalize different data sources into a single source of truth for your team.
  • What does ‘great’ look like in this role? In our experience, a truly impactful MDM manager is someone who brings a deep understanding of data architectures and an appreciation for the different systems and technologies that allow large organizations to make sense of them. Ideally, this person will also help your team bridge the gap between disparate data sources from multiple departments. MDM specialists demonstrate great sympathy and empathy for the end users’ reliance on different functional applications while understanding the importance of having the ‘single pane of glass’ for your organization.

Role #3:
Sales Enablement Manager

For many growing companies, the responsibility of onboarding and training new sales reps often sits with the hiring manager. Some, if lucky, have a sales trainer who facilitates regular sessions, like week-long bootcamps, every month or quarter that are designed to help train new and tenured team members on products and processes. As sales teams scale, keeping content relevant and delivering it in a timely manner becomes increasingly critical and complex – and that’s where a sales enablement manager comes in. So, why do you need a sales enablement manager, and what does great look like in this role?

  • Why do you need a sales enablement manager? In our experience, frontline sales managers and sales trainers often lack the bandwidth to consistently manage learning journeys for entire cohorts of new hires. They can be great tactical teachers in specific situations to reinforce concepts and processes, but as your team grows, you will need someone focused on continuously improving training content and delivery methodologies. How are your new hire cohorts ramping? Are you cultivating a learning environment that can keep those cohorts productive over time? A sales enablement manager offers your organization a dedicated resource who is constantly thinking about the best ways to keep your sales team up to date on product, use cases, messaging and competitive landscape – and deliver it in a programmatic and engaging fashion.
  • What does ‘great’ look like in this role? In our experience, the most productive sales enablement mangers can create and curate learning content and can programmatically deploy and manage the learning journeys for both new and tenured sales reps. They are a thought-leader in both the art of selling and the science of how sales teams learn. When is a sales rep fully ramped? What quantifies success of a training program? We believe the best sales enablement managers become an extension of your senior sales leadership team in their ability to understand and communicate what’s most relevant in customer conversations.

Role #4:
Customer/Community Engagement Manager

Consider your typical customer onboarding process. Your sales rep works hard to close the initial deal. Your account manager then focuses on maintaining a strong customer relationship. You may even have a customer support team or a dedicated CSM to help drive customer adoption and retention. But do you have someone who is focused on engaging with your customers and user-base as a community? The customer journey has fundamentally transformed in recent years. Whether your team is listening or not, your customers are conversing with one another – in self-generated user forums, on social media channels or at in person or virtual events. So, why do you need a customer or community engagement manager, and what does great look like in this role?

  • Why do you need a customer or community engagement manager? Do you want a real-time pulse on your customer sentiment? Better yet, wouldn’t it be great to have someone participate in or influence those customer conversations? When communities are managed correctly, they can be much more than just a way to respond to negative reviews or sentiments; your users can service and support themselves because they are all “in it together” and develop loyalty for their community – and your company. The most successfully managed communities also become a reliable referral channel for new customers. A community engagement manager is focused on plugging in to those conversations that are already happening across your user-base.
  • What does ‘great’ look like in this role? In our experience, the most impactful community managers are, quite simply, obsessed with the voice of the customer. They are servant leaders at their core – highly empathetic to the end-user and creative in their ability to come up with engagement programs to create structure around conversations and find ways for this community to support each other. While in our view this person is typically not a salesperson, they can help bring conversations back to your products or services and create loyalty around your brand.

As you take stock of your learnings from the last several years and plan for the year ahead, consider your company goals and the value these specialists may bring to your sales organization. Are there specific initiatives that squarely align with one of these roles? If so, that may be a clear sign to make that hire in the short-term — and it may also provide a very effective way to sell the role to top candidates (e.g., ”you are directly contributing to a company-level goal with C-Suite visibility”). In our experience, when you find the right specialists, your organization will benefit from their expertise almost immediately.

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The content herein reflects the views of Summit Partners and is intended for executives and operators considering partnering with Summit Partners. For a complete list of Summit investments, please click here.

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