Scaling: A sales-persons hard lessons learned

Photo by James Sullivan on Unsplash

As I’ve said in a previous post, it’s been 18 incredible years of building teams that can effectively sell technology products, specifically security.  They have been fulfilling, challenging, exhausting, enthralling (all at the same time), but most of all, they have been an education.   

I’m now stepping into a new world;  No more product, No more SaaS, and No more security software.  Indy Res sells services, knowledge, time, experience.

After the announcement of my new job the typical response was “That’s great, but it will be a HUGE change for you”.  Or “Are you crazy? You spent all this time build experience in security product sales!”.

My response has been two-fold. First, I’m excited to help customers envision realistic ways that their business could run more efficiently, be more competitive and ultimately be more profitable through the creative application of a wide range of technology solutions. It’s a real draw for me, personally. Secondly, now that I’m a couple months in it’s clear that as I expected when scaling a sales organization, whether product or services, similar challenges will be faced and the lessons learned during the past 18 years still apply.

From a firm foundation good things can be built.

The second part is the big one.  Whether building teams to sell products, services or widgits the lessons learned below have become part of my DNA over the years. If you like them, feel free to make them part of yours!

  • Set a foundation with a repeatable and predictable process and measure the hell out of it.  This enables scalability when things are going well and quickly identify when the wheels are getting shaky.  

  • Back the foundation with consistent operating rhythm.  The high performing teams I’ve been a part of clearly knew what was expected of them on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly basis and were all in on delivering.  I’ll never forget John Kaplan of Force Management walking through the crowd, snapping his fingers while explaining his approach to this.   

  • Listen to the data.  The CEO from one of the start-ups I worked at set this as one of the core values for the company and we lived it.  While I fought the concept early on (every good sales guy follows his gut, right?), it quickly became clear that having measurable data enabled sounder, faster decision making.   

  • Commit to only surrounding yourself with good people.  Even when faced with adverse market or competitive conditions, having the right problems solvers around you, who are committed to success can get through most of the tough times.  Plus, you want to spend a majority of your waking hours with people that challenge you.

While these may be stating the obvious, it’s amazing how quickly they can be abandoned in the heat of the daily grind; regardless of whether one works for a passionate start-up or a fortune 500 company.  I’ve worked at both, and the highest performing teams consistently embrace all four of these.

As the VP of Sales, I’m ensuring that these lessons are merged into our company code at Indy Res; that each person on the team learns to hold them in high regard.

Thanks for reading.  What is the most important lesson you have learned for scaling in high growth companies?

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