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There is no doubt that competition in the business world is fierce. New and seasoned business owners must be willing to do everything in their power to succeed and meet their sales goals. Not every B2B company has a product that sells like IHOP flapjacks. Even if you have a product that is in high demand, founders need to have effective strategies in place to scale their business, optimize systems, and meet sales targets.
Scaling a sales team is one thing and scaling a successful sales team is quite another. I recently had the chance to interview AJ Bruno, founder and CEO of QuotaPath, who sold TrendKite, one of his previous companies, for $ 225 million.
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Sales must also start from scratch. AJ explained to me, “From day one we knew we wanted sales traction, so we hired sales interns while we went through the DreamIt Ventures accelerator. We had 9 on a tight budget and spent our time at the capital city factory calling up a product that didn't even exist. Eventually the other companies in the coworking space got tired of hearing us make outgoing calls and forced us to put up booth walls. It was known as the TrendKite Fort. "
As AJ explained to me, the key lessons he has learned from scaling and selling that he shares while mentoring other founders are interrelated. The three most important parts of building a successful business are: targeted hiring, carefully planned onboarding, and ongoing training.
During my interview, AJ gave an in-depth look at these three tips on how to drive hypergrowth based on his experience and success in selling his previous company for $ 225 million.
1. Start with a conscious mindset
Bruno recommends having all A players by your side. He has an interesting approach to hiring and suggested that other entrepreneurs have prepared a similar methodology for the hiring process. With Trend Kite, he initially did it himself instead of having someone else check and interview candidates. Bruno took the trouble to interview his first 80 salespeople.
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Second, create your recruitment criteria. Do not choose a candidate based on experience or skill alone. Bruno's approach is unique. By the time he was building his team for TrendKite, Elon Musk was getting featured on the news. It was in 2013 when Tesla was still the new kid on the block. Bruno would ask the candidate if he or she knew who Musk is. If anyone had heard of SpaceX or Tesla, they would ask more questions to see what level of knowledge they had in these new companies and how much research they had done. This was an indication of how thorough and detailed the potential candidate was, which was a hiring signal he was looking for.
Your strategy could revolve around something like this. Having a team of top performers is key to your explosive growth. So, consider a unique and non-traditional approach to screening candidates and selecting the best.
2. Plan onboarding for new hires
Okay, let's say you've recruited your A-Team. The next important step is a smooth onboarding process for new hires. Bruno strongly recommends a three-month boot camp to familiarize the new employees with all the ropes and to set the right expectations for their roles.
The onboarding of new employees must be carefully planned. Make a checklist of what to teach your new hires, what needs to be achieved, and a plan of action to achieve those goals. Orientation, familiarization of the employee with the service or product he is selling, mentoring, compliance training and an introduction to the corporate culture are some ways to quickly adapt the new employee to the company.
With Bruno's Bootcamp, his new employees at TrendKite signed contracts in the second month. This was a tremendous achievement in a typically much longer sales cycle (6-12 months). With top performers who are passionate about learning and growing, your goal is to accelerate the sales cycle, and onboarding is a critical step in achieving that goal.
3. Continuous training
Another important lesson in scaling a business is to continually train your team so they can continually improve their skills. Bruno says: “Nobody on your team should stagnate. Give them training opportunities that they cannot resist. Training must be an integral part of every role. "
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To instill a culture of learning into his team, Bruno hired Winning By Design, a company that trains and coaches companies to increase their sales. Bruno brought this team to training and coaching twice a year.
Educational opportunities like this ensure that your team continues to grow and be prepared for the future of your company and beyond. When a company invests in their team's learning and development, you keep employees loyal and you create leaders who can keep pace with your growth. This investment increases customer loyalty and prevents you from hiring outside of the company, creating a strong and growing company culture. This will help you, as the business leader, focus on growing your business rather than worrying about keeping your team of top players.
It took TrendKite 5 years of consistent effort to generate $ 30 million in annual recurring revenue. QuotaPath is a freemium commission tracking tool that gives businesses the chance to try it out before buying, and AJ believes the chance he has with Quota Gnomes is what he was able to achieve with TrendKite . It's a PLG (Product-Led Growth) engine where the product drives acquisition, retention and effectively sells itself. Combine that with his A-Team and they're unstoppable.
There's no such thing as a cookie-cutter approach to success, but if you have the right sales and scaling strategies in place, and hire a team with a strong desire to succeed, anything is possible. And who better to learn from than someone whose exit is $ 225 million compared to the vision of their current company.