4 tips for scaling your sales team
This week, I asked some of Colorado's best B2B SaaS sales leaders to outline some of the challenges they've experienced with scaling sales organizations and to articulate their personal best practices to help solve them. These leaders hail from a variety of companies ranging from public organizations to growing organization at the beginning of their scaling efforts. My hope is that these tips help all types of sales leaders understand the challenges that can occur with rapid growth and ideally provide a few tips that can help you be more effective with your scaling efforts.
My name is Ben Volkman and I am the Head of Denver and the SMB Sales Organization for Zoom Video Communication. I have always loved being part of very fast paced, high growth, quick scaling companies such as WebEx, LinkedIn, RingCentral and currently at Zoom Video Communications. At Zoom, we started the Denver office out of my basement office and a quick 5 years later we have over 600 employees thriving in Denver. One of my proudest accomplishments has been that Zoom in Denver has been named a Best Place to Work by the Denver Post for many years in a row now. We have created an environment where people love coming to work and love making an impact to all of the businesses, schools, organizations, and everyone that uses Zoom.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced during the past 5 years of growth is maintaining the awesome culture that we have built. It is extremely difficult to maintain the focus on culture as the pressure to deliver results mounts when going from a small startup to becoming a public company. At Zoom, we have a culture of delivering happiness and truly caring for our employees, customers, community, and ourselves which has made Zoom a special place to work as we consider each other part of the family. However, the challenge is finding just the right balance between the execution of the business plan, the accountability we hold ourselves to, and maintaining the great culture.
To me, the challenge of maintaining our culture always comes down to hiring and making sure we hire the right people to join us on our special journey. We hire a diverse, motivated, and fun group of people where culture is of #1 importance to them, meaning they add to the culture and make it even better then it was when they came to Zoom. The extreme focus on hiring talent that believes in the mission and vision of Zoom, our culture of caring, and delivering happiness is the secret sauce that has and will continue to make us successful for many years to come!
Dave DeMink has spent 20 years in SaaS as an independent contributor and sales leader. At RingCentral, Dave started the US sales organization which grew to over 200 across three offices in 6 years. Dave then moved to BirdEye as VP Sales where he scaled both sales reps to more than 60 and revenue by 5x. Dave is currently the VP of Global Sales Strategy at Druva, a SaaS data protection unicorn driving towards an IPO in the next 12 months.
There are always a couple of similar challenges that pop up:
1. Hiring - in an organization experience hyper-growth, finding top talent is always the #1 issue. Top talent are typically not looking for new roles, so have a strong partnership with recruiters and strong value proposition on why they should join your company is always important. You can also find great talent by promoting your job postings on your website as well as LinkedIn. Once you get a flow of candidates coming through, using a tool like OMG to help you find those reps that fit your profile and have strong Sales DNA will reduce your risk. Bottom line - recruiting is a team sport. The VP, the first line managers, the reps themselves, and the recruiting organization (internal & external) can all help drive a high quality pipeline of sales talent.
2. Training/onboarding -
Once you have found your ideal candidate, getting them trained and onboarded is the next challenge. Especially in small, growing companies, the ramp time to productivity for your new reps is a really metric. Having a agreed upon onboarding and training process from a new hires first day is critical. If I was scaling a sales org, this would be my #1 priority so that as those quality candidates turn into qualify employees, they are all on the same page from day one.
3. Consistency in the sales process -
I believe that its critically important to establish a sales process/methodology early on, build your systems/tools (CRM) to support the methodology and work with your first line managers to drive the process in 1:1's, deal reviews and QBR's. Once everyone if playing from the same sheet of music, its only then can you leverage data and KPIs to drive change in area's you find gaps.
Agree on what your ideal candidate looks like and leverage objective data to help you hire correctly, then build out your training/onboarding program that will prepare your new hires for a consistent sales process, methodology and coaching from your first line managers - then measure KPIs to find gaps and drive improvement at scale.
Scott Lasica is Chief Sales Officer at Stream, where he manages and oversees all inbound and outbound sales activity. He has a breadth of experience in technology, climbing the ranks at Rogue Wave Software from Field Sales Engineer to Vice President of Field Technical Services, before joining Quick Left, where he would ultimately be named Chief Operating Officer. Most recently, Lasica was Head of Sales Operations for Cognizant Digital Business, where he helped to build a cloud native sales team for the emerging market. Overall, Lasica has been involved in most departments, including sales, technical sales, marketing, product management, professional services, business development, research and development, and technical support; he has managed teams in many of these roles, as well as overseen all departments as COO. As a student at the University of Colorado Boulder, Lasica even worked on NASA-funded projects at LASP, writing code for interplanetary spacecraft such as Pioneer Venus, Galileo and Cassini. He has experience in a wide range of industries, and he's comfortable in both startup and Fortune 500 environments.
The biggest challenge I’ve faced in scaling my current team at Stream was imposed by Covid. Hiring 10 people during the pandemic – including five during the lockdown – proved to be very challenging in onboarding, training, and mentoring. We stumbled through it with a lot of Zoom calls and Slack communication, but definitely not ideal.
Looking back now, I’d suggest introducing some type of pairing situation or pair programming. Get your new employees on a Zoom call together and have them shadow everything you do. Sales calls, email responses, writing out contracts – everything they’ll need to do on their own eventually. When in-person, I could just grab the new people and show them when things came up, but now, it requires more advance planning to do well.
Starting in the SAAS space over 5 years ago, my first job consisted of 200-300 daily cold calls on a power dialer. Day in and day out I sharpened my teeth, out working and out performing other reps. Utilizing my first hand experience as an individual contributor to help shape my managerial skills, I have gone from managing a small group of new reps to a director role at one of the top Fintech companies on the market. As the Director of Sales at Floify, I have helped lead Floify into our most profitable period of growth. When I took over as Director, Floify had been around for 6 years and in the last year and half I have helped to 3x our revenue with no end in sight to this exponential growth period.
The biggest challenge in scaling my team has been legacy infrastructure within the company (employees, strategy and processes) that were hindering growth. Getting people to buy into my strategy and the thought process behind it was one of the biggest hurdles of my career (and one of my most satisfying accomplishments). Removing people from their comfort zone is never easy, but it is the only way to see growth within an organization.
Lead by example. I know, I. know. This is an overused proverb, but in order to get someone out of their comfort zone, they need to have confidence in you. Detailed plans and strategizing are great, but they don't inspire motivation. Your team needs to be confident following you into the unknown. So get into the trenches, show them a new way of thinking and then support your team as they follow in your footsteps.
Well there you have it! Some of Colorado's best B2B SaaS sales leaders providing gems of feedback that can help you scale your sales team. I hope these tips help you gain an understanding of where things can break down and what to focus on to mitigate for those problems. If you're curious to dive deeper into their comments and/or are interested in joining their growing sales organizations - feel free to reach out to them directly via their LinkedIn profiles above.