Series A company hiring first Sales Leader
How to run a fast and effective process to find the *right* sales leader for your business
DEAR STAGE 2: I’m the CEO and Co-Founder of a series A startup selling to SMBs. Over the last year we 2.5x’d revenue, brought on our first 2 AEs and raised our A round. I’m now going out to hire my first Sales Leader. What’s the best way to approach the search? How long should it take? And how can I ensure I find the right person?” ~Series A CEO
DEAR SERIES A CEO: Congrats on successfully onboarding your first few reps and making the big leap away from founder-led sales! The first sales leader is a BIG hire for any company and adding a leadership layer creates new challenges and risks. You have to invest the time upfront to get this hire right.
At Stage 2, our top performing portfolio companies run a search in <60 days which requires a really well defined job spec and scorecard, and an aligned and engaged interview panel.
In an ideal world, you have a recruiter helping you to run this search, but the process below can be adapted for a founder with support from an internal recruiter, external search firm or even a co-founder:
☑️ Define the key requirements of the role and specific experience required for sourcing
☑️ Draft a job description with a focus on the most important ‘jobs to be done’ and what success looks like in the role
☑️ Agree on the interview panel - who needs to be involved?
☑️ Build a target list of 10-20 profiles; review with hiring team to calibrate sourcing
☑️ Once agreed on the right profile, build target list of 20-30 more profiles and begin outreach
☑️ Set a target for how many new candidates to engage each week
☑️ Define scorecard based on the required competencies and experience — see the example here:
☑️ Define the interview process and set a goal for how long you will engage a candidate. From first call, how quickly can you make a decision? The faster the better
☑️ Build a bank of interview questions and agree to the point of each interview - what information needs to be gathered? What questions should be asked? This helps us avoid asking the same questions in each meeting. Consider recording interviews if you are worried about "missing out" on key info by breaking up topics between interviews
☑️ Each member of the interview panel fills out a scorecard after his/her interview step.
☑️ Every single week the recruiter running the search should send an update to all stakeholders (bonus points for sharing this with your advisors and/or board of directors): new candidates added to pipeline + status of all active candidates + candidates passed on. Use this to diagnose challenges - Do you have enough top of funnel? Are candidates moving through fast enough? What are the bottlenecks?
☑️ Make decisions quickly - go/no go decision on next step within 24 hours of each interview
If you want to dive deeper into sample processes and questions, the Stage 2 Team has developed a playbook that can help!
Good luck and see you next week!