What to offer sales biz dev first hire / partner for product that has early sales traction?


Background: I am a developer with a SaaS product that is bringing in revenue, but not enough to pay a sales person's salary (yet). The company shouldn't need outside funding. The product is generating cash flow, people love it, and it is ready to scale in the cloud. This product is in a $10M niche market.

The next goal is to establish key relationships with niche store fronts (where customers are) to boost sales, create buzz, build awareness. As a coder at heart, this is NOT my forte.


  1. How attract a great biz dev / sales person to this company?
  2. What would this person expect to be paid in cash, commission, bonuses, equity?
  3. What are reasonable goals. Should I set goals, or let the person propose some?
  4. What do I need to protect the company and myself? I'm thinking vesting, but at the same time I really want to set this person free and grow the company. I'm okay with ending up at 50/50, but the person would have to earn up to that.

Sales Partner Equity Saas Business Development

asked Aug 27 '12 at 07:11
Nw Architect
136 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

2 Answers


How you compensate sales people differs greatly by region. Chicago, Boston, San Fran, Austin, NYC will likely have very different comp structure and expectations than Portland, OR.

Also, different SaaS products have very different sales cycles and different sales process, so you really need to educate yourself before you get taken advantage of.
This is by far the best piece of research on the subject of how SaaS is sold: 2011 Pacific Crest Private SaaS Company Survey I know in Boston good (I have my own formula what I look for, you will need to develop yours specific to your business) SaaS inside sales person will likely need to be in $100K+ OTE, so the base and commissions comp structure has to be built accordingly. Don't forget that it takes time for someone to ramp up and many don't have the patience for longer rampup (impatience is often what on of their good features). Notice I am not mentioning equity anywhere? Because 75% of sales people you hire will not make it and they know it. And until you have hired you 20th or 30th sales person, your "batting record" may be even worse. I know I got hours and hours of stories of hiring and managing sales people. I have A LOT of respect for those sales managers who have hired and managed hundreds. It takes nerves of steel.

Last month I did write an article on the subject of hiring sales people: 6 Lessons Learned – Hiring the Right Inside Sales People for Your Young Company

answered Aug 27 '12 at 11:55
Apollo Sinkevicius
3,323 points


This is not easy, it's very risky and you never know what kind of person it's going to be, and paying in cash IMHO is not really an option at the very start.

With attracting good people it's good enough to establish contact by posting some very good job offers, in reputable places. You can find some by taking the top 3-5 sites from google, have a read on the current offers for the sales and make something which looks attractive - e.g. commission rates.

  1. You find one weak soul and sign pact with him, and make sure you have control over his mind and body ;-) See ad. 4
  2. You pay him commission for each sale and bonus for each 10 customers, and not paying without profits for first e.g. 20 customers, at least on the start, and later you can review with him
  3. For example, 10 customers in month, or week, or 3 months, and if this doesnt make any money, you have many options out of it
  4. With protecting, I would say, not going 50/50, but sharing in some more secure way. You have right to keep your stuff under control from sales ppl! You need to control his soul by signing contract, and he must be happy with it, as he is just coming and selling by next day, and the another day, he can go away as fast as he came.

During this time, he can also optimize the website (important for sales) and try to make improvements on his own in the sales process, e.g. in contracts, negotiation, project management etc. This way, he might actually make money for himself.

answered Aug 27 '12 at 09:19
Andrew Smith
211 points

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