I’m a big believer in learning outside one’s “swim lane”. Since my practice is focused on Application Development, an event like this is a great opportunity for me to understand better how things work in another department.

The three sales leaders were: (1) Jaclyn Chen, CEO of Benepass, an HR benefits solution, (2) Nabeel Alamgir, CEO of Lunchbox, an ordering system for food service, and (3) Tommy Deluca, VP of Sales at Ampla, a financial platform for consumer brands.

I loved hearing from three unrelated sectors. In some cases they differed, but on the points where they spoke in unison, I had a great confidence in what they had to say.

To me, the most valuable take-aways were:

  • For cold outreach, 10,000 leads is a good starting place.
    • It’s obvious that spamming strangers is much less successful than pursuing “warm leads” or “inbound” inquiries… but I was a little surprised to hear that 10k leads is the minimum starting point to load up a sales effort.
    • I had been telling people that “a few dozen isn’t enough, maybe reach for a few hundred”. I would have assumed B2B requires smaller outreach than consumer products. After all, if you sell to restaurants, how many restaurants even exist within a given radius? Apparently I was wrong. Go big.
  • Junior Sales team can get compensation like $150-200k
    • Again, I would have guessed this much lower, but the three early-stage tech companies all agreed.
    • This is for someone with 3-5 years solid experience.
    • Can’t hire younger, because they don’t have the skills and a startup doesn’t know how to train them.
    • Can’t hire very senior, because if they’re any good they will (a) demand much bigger compensation, and (b) prefer to utilize a large budget to support their efforts.
    • Expect something like 6 months from “initial hire” to “full utilization”.
    • These people cannot be added until the company has a fairly well-developed set of sales support materials (brochures, slide decks, etc.), and a decent understanding of how the market responds to its offering.
    • That package is probably something like $75-100k base, then then a tiered bonus package with opportunity to double that if they meet their targets.

Apparently compensation for Sales folks has been on a different curve than Dev! I was very grateful for this evening session helping me to reset my understanding of how things are in 2023.