Your Sales Job on the High Growth Rocketship

Ryan Walsh, CEO and Founder
Ryan Walsh, CEO and FounderMar 8, 2021

It’s easy to get swayed by the ‘rocketship’ trap, where you see a job opportunity at a fast growing, highly publicized (typically tech) company, and think you can’t go wrong if you could only land the job. Also known as getting a seat on the rocketship.

You know the company must have good product market fit, because of the logos they keep announcing and the ones that they have plastered on their website.  Incredible momentum.

This momentum has propelled them to and past a seed round of venture capital financing, and you get hired.  Culture is amazing, the sales team is growing, and you have these regular all hands meetings where the big growth numbers are shared with the team, and then next thing you know there’s an announcement of that huge series A round from those Bay Area VCs.  This is where things really go into overdrive and it’s a can’t lose scenario for you!

Well, not so fast…  

That team of 9 AEs all the sudden needs to be 45 AEs.  Gotta hit the big growth number that was pitched to bring in that capital.

The execution starts to lag behind the vision and the pitch.

9 AEs was pretty awesome, but can the market support 25?  45?  Is there enough market to support it?

It’s a critical question and an area that sales professionals need to dig in during the interview if you’re looking at a high growth opportunity.  Put simply, dig into:

One, what is the growth outlook for heads on the sales org over the next 24 months, and how many of them will be quota bearing reps

Two, when you understand that number, dig into how territories will be divided.  Will it be geographic, will it be by product, or customer size, how will it all break down. What role will marketing play in supporting these numbers and how mature is the org there. What about SDRs : AE ratios?

Simply put there are a lot of moving pieces and if the head of sales hasn’t done it before, it doesn’t mean she or he can’t do it, it just means they will have to figure a lot of it out for the first time.

Then you need to overlay that with what is being communicated as the addressable market… BUT you can research this as well.  Ask what the minimum customer profile (MCP) and ideal customer profile (ICP) are, and how those overlay against the addressable market.

If all these numbers don’t add up, you’ll start to see this manifest itself in a critical RepVue metric – the percentage of AEs who are at or above quota.  Downstream, you’ll see new sales leadership, new comp plans, degrading culture, and the rocketship is sputtering a bit.

As usual, much of this information can be gleaned from a very effective interview process where you’re empowered to ask questions.  But you have to know what to ask, and they have to be willing to disclose it.

Good luck out there.

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