Sales reps need to sell 5x what they make

We had a good call with one of our companies today in which we discussed sales rep efficiency. The Company has two seasoned reps which are generating a respectable 2.6x and 3.2x as much revenue as we pay them. In other words, if we are paying the reps $100k all-in (includes base, commission, bonus, and benefits), they’re generating new revenue of $260k and $320k per year. Certainly that’s decent performance and these are good reps, but ideally we’d like to see a seasoned rep generating 4.0x their compensation and if they’re really good, 5.0x their compensation. The economics of a sales rep can make or break a business. Below are some additional thoughts to keep in mind:

-Hiring sales reps is the only reliable way to grow for a business focused on enterprise customers. It’s dangerous to assume growth happens magically, for instance assuming the average contract value will improve because you’re going to add more features or the sales cycle will shrink as the market becomes more aware of you. Stay conservative and assume the only way to grow revenue is the addition of reps, not gradual increases in contract size or other miracles.

-When you model out your cash need for the year, assume you can add reps at a reasonable pace: at most 1 a quarter for very seasoned reps and up to 3 a quarter for the less experienced. The more complex the sales cycle, the harder it will be to find reps that are a good fit. Assume reps will need time to ramp, generally 3 to 6 months depending on the length and complexity of the sales cycle.

-The rule of thumb is that for every 5 reps you hire, 2 are going to be a waste of time and resources, 1 will be a stud that hits quota, and 2 will be below quota but worth keeping and still economic (generating revenue that is 2x to 3x their compensation).

co-founder at Blossom Street Ventures. Email me at

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