As many of you know all too well, hiring salespeople can be a fickle experience that’s fraught with risk.

What if you hire the wrong person? What if he or she isn’t productive? What if it takes you more time to get that person up to speed than it’s really worth to your bottom line? And, maybe worst of all, what if that person costs you sales as he or she learns the ropes of your business and market?

Without question, those are all legitimate hiring issues. But business owners should also be equally concerned with the implications of not hiring a salesperson when their company desperately needs one.

After all, if you—or your existing sales staff—are overworked and undermanned, that almost always translates to money being left on the table. And if the amount of potential new revenue you’re missing out on is more than the cost of hiring a new salesperson, why wouldn’t you consider adding to your headcount?

How can you tell if your business is ready to hire a new sales rep? Here are three very simple ways to diagnose if your staff is too thin:

  1. You’re not generating the number of new prospects you need: If you need more prospects to reach your revenue objectives but your existing sales team does not have the bandwidth or skill to prospect, then you’re almost stacking the deck against yourself. Too few prospects equal a thin pipeline, and that almost always leads to missed quota.
  2. You don’t have time to follow up on the prospects you are generating: Even if you’re producing the volume of leads that you need to fill your pipeline, those leads are virtually worthless if you aren’t doing something with them. Even worse, if you’re not making the most of the time and resources you spent to generate those leads, then you’re not just leaving money on the table, you’re wasting it.
  3. You can’t cover your current customers the way you’d like: The bottom line is that if your sales team is maxed out, then your reps have to decide where they’re going to spend their time. And, unfortunately, the default choice rarely is to mine or nurture existing customers. So, as you bring in new customers and pass them off to those sales reps, the likelihood is that the new customers won’t get the attention they need and deserve. And that very often makes it exceedingly difficult to upsell, cross-sell and retain those customers.

If you’re experiencing any of the three situations above, your business is at risk and it’s time to hire.

Even if you’ve built a seemingly healthy pipeline that’s yielding fresh batches of prospects and customers, the reality is that if you can’t respond—either by cultivating prospects or nurturing existing customers—then you’re putting yourself behind the 8-ball.

It’s really no different than what VARs experience when their operations team doesn’t have enough engineers to fulfill all of the new customers that the sales team is bringing in. The business stalls, revenue flatlines and, over time, your company begins to nosedive.

So, the obvious lesson here is that it doesn’t pay to squander on sales headcount, and it’s counterintuitive to assume that hiring a salesperson will only cost you money.

The truth is that if you hire good salespeople who are effective at selling, you won’t just find that your investment pays for itself several times over—you’ll also discover that your entire business operates more effectively.

Kendra Lee is a top IT Seller, Prospect Attraction Expert, author of the newly released book, “The Sales Magnet,” and the award winning book, “Selling Against the Goal,” and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment.