Sales Curve

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The SaleS learning Curve & virTual SaleS
Advice for a successful startup, product launch or foray into new sales territory

W

hen launching a new company, product or service or expanding into a new territory, the temptation is often to hire a new VP of sales, some enterprise reps and build a high powered sales force as quickly as possible. It has been demonstrated, however, that ramping up a sales force too quickly can have very negative impact on the bottom line. As founding Chairman and CEO of Veritas Software and current Stanford University Lecturer Mark Leslie wrote with Charles Holloway in their 2006 Harvard Business Review article, The Sales Learning Curve, “Smart companies give themselves time and money enough to climb the sales learning curve before ramping up the sales force.” I. Visionary companies launching a new product or service that are mindful of the Sales Learning Curve and willing to break free of old paradigms can take advantage of a Virtual Sales model to ramp up their efforts for less risk, higher return on investment and faster speed-to-market.

The following is good advice for any organization looking to start something new. I. Set Realistic Expectations Knowing where you are, where you want to go and how you plan to get there is important. So is understanding that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Realize that with any new venture there will be an organizational learning curve that must be taken into consideration when figuring annual revenue projections and sales quotas. As Leslie and Holloway wrote, “Executives need to take responsibility for projecting the shape of the sales learning curve based on realistic inputs and for ensuring that all learning opportunities are identified. Then, the shape of the curve should drive the design of revenue, expense, and hiring plans across the entire organization... The most important role of all for senior executives is setting realistic expectations— guided by the curve—for investors, the board,...
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