No one needs to remind you that your company’s future heavily depends on the success of your sales team. But are you reminding yourself of this critical question: Am I hiring enough salespeople? 

why you need to hire more salespeople

Let’s look at the numbers to see how big your sales team needs to be for your company to out-sell and out-grow your competitors.

How big should your sales team be?

InsightSquared’s blog recently featured the numbers on HubSpot’s headcount back in 2009. At 100 employees, 36% of HubSpot’s employees were in sales.

35% of HubSpot's employees are in sales

Today, HubSpot has over 1,200 employees with an even bigger percentage of them in sales: around 39%.

How big are other Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies’ sales teams?

Percentage of employees in sales*

Large companies

  • 44% – salesforce.com (total headcount = 15,837)
  • 25% – Netsuite (total headcount = 3907) 
  • 31% – Zendesk (total headcount = 994)

 SMBs

  • 40% – InsightSquared (total headcount = 169) 
  • 63% – SalesLoft (total headcount = 57)
  • 44% – Ideal Candidate (that’s us!)

*approximate numbers based on LinkedIn

Interestingly, larger companies adhere more to the 4:1 account executive to sales/business development rep ratio while smaller companies are closer to the 1:1 ratio indicative of hyper growth.

Are you hiring enough salespeople?

On average, the sales team is about 30% of the total headcount for larger companies and 40-50% for smaller companies.

According to Jason Lemkin, if your business is using a sales-driven model, at 100 employees you need about 40 of them in sales.

  • 1 VP of Sales
  • 1 VP or Director of Sales Ops
  • 3-4 Sales Directors
  • 1 Sales Analyst
  • 20 Account Executives (budget for 25 at least)
  • 2-3 Outside Account Executives
  • 8 SDRs

As Jason puts it

Yes, I know this is a LOT more than you’d thought.

The takeaway

A lot of people underestimate how big their sales team needs to be to stay competitive. Take a look at your own numbers and if your sales team isn’t at least 30% of your headcount (and your competitors’ are), you seriously need to consider hiring more salespeople.

How big is your company’s sales team? Share your numbers in the comments or tweet @recruit_smarter.

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Ji-A Min

Ji-A Min

Head Data Scientist at Ideal
Ji-A Min is the Head Data Scientist at Ideal. With a Master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Ji-A promotes best practices and data-based HR. She writes about trends and research in talent acquisition, people analytics, and workplace diversity.
Ji-A Min