In March, Origin Ventures invited portfolio company sales leaders and guests to our 2018 Sales Summit in Park City, UT.
The 25+ attendees discussed sales strategies, hiring, organizational structure, sales tools, and much more. We expect the sales summit to be a launching pad for continued conversations among portfolio company sales leaders. We would like to thank the attendees for spending the day with us, and the presenters for sharing their insights and leading the discussion on each topic. Find key takeaways below.
Recruiting a killer sales team
“Building an effective sales team and scaling it over time” was attendees’ most-requested discussion topic. Summit guest Mikel Chertudi, co-founder and CEO at STRALA, tackled this topic for the attendees: “Hiring the right salespeople early is the most important thing an early-stage entrepreneur must do!”
Origin Ventures partner Brent Hill briefly discussed critical behavior interviewing, which seeks to separate individual contribution and specific experience from company and team success.
When evaluating candidates, Bob Gilbreath, co-founder and CEO of Ahalogy, encouraged attendees to “remember that the default position is don’t hire.” Ahalogy uses candidate scorecards to grade potential hires.
Growing / scaling the sales organization
Blake Hunsaker, director of global sales at Teem, encouraged entrepreneurs to hire salespeople who are comfortable wearing a lot of hats, and then expect to “peel those hats away” as the company grows. Building processes and infrastructure to manage a sales team’s growth was another main focus.
Sales strategies and tactics
When using ‘customer personas’ as a segmentation tactic, Kyle Fraughton, VP of sales at Teem, posited that sellers must pinpoint both their current customers as well as their ideal customers. Hill summarized the ensuing conversation, encouraging salespeople to identify “their own Fortune 500:” potential customers who fit their product, geography, industry, technology sophistication, and growth phase.
We were grateful to welcome Pat Ford to the summit. Pat left a job at a tech company to build Beehive Cheese in 2005. Pat shared what he learned from switching careers, as well as how he grew Beehive from 2 co-founders to the 25 employees it has today. And yes, attendees got cheese to take home.
Lead generation tactics
Attendees used varied tactics to generate leads, from outsourcing to virtual assistants to sending direct social media messages, emails, and cold calls.
A representative from one company with a particularly high response rate to initial outreach led the conversation on how to reach out to potential leads, laying out his process of list building, prospecting, email drips, timely responses, and relentless follow-ups. His SDRs use creative tactics and “humanize” their voices to stand out from the crowd.
After the sale: customer success
Dave Blake, founder and CEO of ClientSuccess, laid out his 4-part framework for customer success: culture, collaboration, communication, and compensation. He also claimed that most customer churn happens during the immediate post-close window, so ensuring a smooth handoff from sales to customer success is pivotal.
Blake encouraged attendees to “learn from unhappy customers and be concerned about silent ones.” He also laid out strategies to align incentives between salespeople and customer success representatives.
The summit was a day full of lessons and networking, and attendees left the summit better prepared to build their sales teams and sell their products than before. Thanks to all who made the day great.