Find out why premature scaling can be dangerous and how to know when you should scale your startup’s sales team.
Premature scaling is one of the most consistent indicators of startup failure. Instead of chasing growth before you’re ready, know when to scale your startup’s sales team. When you take a stage-aligned approach to growth — and scale at the right time — you can put your B2B startup on the right side of success.
The Problem With Premature Scaling
Every tech founder wants to scale sales quickly for two reasons. First, they may see a positive market response early on. Maybe they get a couple of sales earlier than expected and want to start replicating.
Second, they need to generate revenue. Startups usually have limited operating capital, so they try to land clients and build revenue fast by scaling sales teams right off the bat.
You may have a product-market fit but haven’t yet validated it, or you might simply be trying to stop bleeding money. Either way, don't assume hiring a sales team early on is a smart business move.
You could end up with a team of salespeople trying to sell to a market that isn’t interested.
There’s something every entrepreneur needs to understand: Most startups don’t make it. After just one year, 80 percent of new businesses have closed their doors. Many, if not most, attempt to scale too early.
If you have only the core framework of a business — a website, small team, social media presence, and minimum viable product — you’re not ready to scale. You haven’t reached the right business stage yet.
Understand Your Business Stage Before You Scale
Before you can scale and experience sustainable success, you should understand which stage your startup is in — and when it's time to move to the next one. When you move forward, do it because you’re ready, not because you’re chasing revenue or running from losses.
Before scaling your sales team, you’ll need to go through the discovery phase and the validation phase first. It’s in these two early startup phases that you'll confirm:
- Is the problem you’re trying to solve for your customers big enough to solve at scale — do you have a problem/solution fit?
- Is your market interested enough in your product to switch from the solution they’re currently using? Basically, do you have a product/market fit?
Once you’ve answered these questions affirmatively, you’re ready to go.
Digging Deeper Into Go-Time for Scaling Your Sales Process
So, how do you validate your problem/solution and your product/market fit?
First, talk to your customers. What do they think of your product? What’s their perspective on how effective your solution will be at solving their problem? The more conversations you can have — especially in these early startup phases — the more you’ll learn what you need to know to solve your customers’ problems.
Next, generate revenue. Get those first few sales. Learn as much as you possibly can from each one of them. Use both your quantitative metrics and the qualitative feedback you’re getting from your early adopters to learn if you have more work before scaling. Do you need to improve your offer or your sales process, or did your early customers use it and absolutely love it?
Then, gather more wins. Being ready to scale isn’t just about finding a handful of happy customers. You need to keep selling to ensure you’re getting a consistent response.
When you experience consistent results and your product is a sure-fire revenue-generator, then you can think about hiring.