eCommerce & SaaS Hypergrowth - Roles you need to hire in-house ASAP!
After working in eCommerce/SAAS environments both as an in house recruiter and agency recruiter, I have seen a lot. I have seen failure and success, and I attribute it 100% to hiring strategies. So you have an amazing technology or products for sale…now it’s time to hire the infrastructure to make your organization grow and scale to that next level!
#1 is MARKETING: At one eCommerce company, I saw tremendous growth when I hired an ex-President of one of the stronger ad agencies to come on board as a CMO. We obviously, as a startup, could not afford a typical CMO salary, so we were able to put together an equity, bonus and compensation package that intrigued the move. This CMO changed the nature of our marketing strategy which enabled crazy growth. A Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is a crucial hire and needs to be focused on almost immediately. Allow the CMO to invest in PPC, eMail & CRM, SEO & Social strategies. This is very important.
*Trick to hire these people: Taking them out of ad agency settings is always ideal. They are usually paid less then brand side at the agency and really have a desire to get to brand side too. A lot of agency candidates are highly motivated to get into a start up too!
#2 is SALES: First start by hiring a very strong Sales Manager that has a mentor type personality. Someone who understands KPI’s, CRM, sales strategy and is very hands on. Someone who is not afraid to jump on calls and can teach the “close”. Do not hire the aggressive intense, red face sales guru - the decline in morale and culture is soon to come when these guys are on board.
Everyone wants a cold calling inside sales team. Especially in the beginning, to draw in revenue ASAP. We target people willing to make next to nothing with a crazy strong commission program and promises of grandeur to increase output. This model creates high turnover and sometimes can hurt the culture of your company almost immediately. The most ideal situation to make this work is to turn on lead generation marketing efforts and get your sales reps to start closing on leads vs making 100% cold calls. Make sure to have a CRM in place, goals, scripts and contact data. Without this, Sales Reps will not be efficient or successful.
*Trick to hire: Hire Sales reps by doing college campus recruiting. It’s a great place to find amazing talent that is not discovered yet. Save on recruiting fees and just hire a mentor type manager who will teach grads to do sales. Don’t just hire someone that was already in sales, paid a $28k/$30K base salary and is looking to leave due to XY&Z or else they will be looking to leave you too.
#3 TECHNOLOGY: I sometimes think of this as #1, since without the right tech in place, your company probably cannot even exist. I list it as #3 since most companies founders in eCommerce start by hiring a company to create the technology, application or website and then focus on building a company around it. I think hiring an in house CTO who has a strong hands on development background is crucial for any SAAS or eCommerce organization. You need someone that understands the code and really can figure out if your development and tech teams are doing it right. Too many times CTO’s are hired without a coding and development background, which can be a huge problem if you don’t have a strong internal development and coding team already in place. A lot of co-founders are the technology backbone of the company, so make sure to build a team of developers and analysts under you to ensure your scaling your company’s technology. Hire individuals coming from big companies who are looking for a more entrepreneurial setting, I find these tech gurus to be the best and most motivated.
*Tech candidates make a lot of money. Before you go and hire a developer, figure out exactly the experience you need and understand that anyone working at a big company in a development role will probably be looking for $80K-$100K+ to move. If this is out of budget, hire someone 1-2 years out of college, with 6 months or so of eCommerce/SAAS experience… they will be closer to the $60K-$70K salary range.
#4 OPERATIONS: A Strong Admin or Operations Manager can make your life so much easier. You have to do payroll, pay invoices, inventory, clean the office, get food for the sales floor, plan events, etc. etc. etc. There are too many odd ball things to do in a day, and without a solid operations team, you will go insane. Make sure to start off with a right hand “man” so to speak. Hire a high level Admin who can really handle an operations type job. These people will make your office run very smooth.
*Hire individuals that are coming from very stressful, fast paced situations. They will be able to handle the crazy growth that happens in a start up office and not get freaked out when the work load doubles as your company grows. Candidates coming from light industrial, distribution, logistics, law firms and the like are great to hire. They can handle crazy insane situations as if it were an everyday normal occasion. Do not be afraid to hire older operational people – I personally think they are the best, both in admin and operation management roles.
#5 PRODUCT MANAGEMENT: This is my favorite hire. I love hiring individuals who are in charge of merchandise (in settings of eCommerce merchandising) or technology (SAAS environment). These people are smart, operationally savvy, understand marketing, sales, technology, software and systems and is able to tie all the layers together. They are great with customers, understand strategy and really are the people that make your client and customer support team look good.
*The Trick to hire: Make sure to hire individuals who are already working with a product or technology similar to yours, so the learning curve is minimal. These roles need to be individuals who understand your product or technology so well that they are the smartest person in the room when it comes to your product. These hires take time, but are well worth it.
All of the above hires are crucial, and yes there are other roles, but focusing on these 5 areas can take your company to a whole new level. Make sure to you have someone in place that can focus on interviewing and dedicating time to recruitment. Without Human Capital, companies would not exist. For any hard to find hire, make sure to use a contingency recruiting firm. If you want to hire the best or compare the applications you have to others, it is ideal to have a recruiter making cold calls and presenting your company and opportunity to the best talent already in a job doing exactly what you need to be done. Posting a job ad and hoping to god that applicants will flood in, just isn’t smart. We need to be proactive in every element of building a company - recruiting needs to be a focus at all times.