This week marks 90 days at The Hustle. In my first two weeks I was tasked with setting up our sales structure. This required everything. From setting up Salesforce to revenue modeling to media decks to establishing post-sales process. Everything. All this had to be executed with a budget of $300/month and a 150% month-over-month revenue growth goal.
I wasn’t fully prepared for this challenge.
My first job was as a 9th grade American Government teacher and then at a nonprofit. Only after that did I get my first experience in digital media. I was never a Salesforce admin or product manager, but I asked questions and listened to those above me on the food chain. Their notes, tips, and my constant eavesdropping gave me the confidence to take on this awesome challenge. With those experiences (combined with a supportive team, hard work, many YouTube videos, and the advice of close friends) I not only enabled The Hustle to achieve all the lofty goals we set these first 90 days, but also set us up for a successful 2017.
For you entrepreneurs looking to get your sales team off the ground, here’s how we did it:
My mindset was the most important tool for the first 90 days. You can have a great team, the best tools, and an amazing product, but the wrong mindset will set your sales team up for failure. Here are 3 mindsets that are crucial to your success.
- Read/watch things to learn, not to find an answer. You will watch hours of YouTube videos on how to set up Salesforce or some other complicated software that 48 hours before you knew nothing about. Not all the material you consume will give the answer you wanted, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it with authority and commit it to memory. You will probably need to know that information tomorrow, so you might as well watch it today.
- Think past the frustration. Think of it as going through a maze. You can spend a lot of time going down a certain path and then realize you wasted the last 3 hours on something that was useless. You will want to throw your computer when you get that error from Zapier, but don’t worry, everyone will be blown away with that integration for years to come. Remind yourself in those moments that you’re doing something that will change someone’s life, not only yours, but the team you are about to build. Finally, watch the clip below 1M times and realize that this is your baby and you need to stay relaxed.
- Be fearless and humble. You are taking on a challenge that almost anyone can complete, but few are brave enough to accept. That fearlessness will help you succeed. In that same breath, remain humble and recognize you probably have no idea what you’re doing at times. You will have to ask for help, fail often, and maybe even read one of those “For Dummies” books. From my experience, those who are humble are at a higher risk to struggle with fearlessness and vice versa. You need to have both to be successful.
This is your job. You are leading this team to the promised land. As important as users and a great product are, your company won’t succeed without revenue. So here is what you need to start that process:
- A team that tells you what they want. If you have a product team in place, then speak with them. Get their feedback before starting this process and every day after. Ask them about their favorite parts of the product, what their biggest fear is with sales coming into the business, who they think is the perfect customer, or what they think the product is worth. Their answers will vary and, at times, may be something way off base then what you were thinking. That’s ok. Take their advice and write it down. This will help you later on, I promise.
- A larger vision of what you want to achieve (this is easy for those of you who are ready to change the world as we know it). It is necessary that you have a larger mission as an organization and as a sales team. For example, my goal for our sales team is to enhance The Hustle brand and improve the lives of our community by working with like-minded partners. In addition we want to enable our product team to be constant innovators by driving a high amount of operating income. These goals will drive you to focus your time and efforts in the right place. Remember, only making money is easy. Real success is making revenue around your mission.
- Set revenue goals that will make you successful. This can be a tricky number to figure out and it should be made clear to your leadership team that you may need to reevaluate at times. My first suggestion is to have conversations with others who have done something similar. Ask your investors what they think is achievable. Work with your product/growth team to understand their needs. Then when all of that is done, ask yourself what you can do and build out a map on how you can get to that goal. Break down revenue by week, month, product, sales person, and so on. If you can’t map it, then go lower. It is always better to underpromise and overdeliver. Here is an example of how I mapped our revenue goals in the beginning.
Tools You Will Need
These tools will save you time and money, two things you should carefully measure. I also believe in creating processes that sustain. It’s a waste of time to build something that won’t be good when you’re 4X the size in 12 months. Don’t think you’ll be around in 12 months and don’t want to take out 12 month contracts? Then go re-read the fearlessness section above.
Email, cloud storage, and the whole suite of apps – Google Apps ($5/user/month)
As a team, we use Google Apps. It’s the easiest and one of the least costly ways to have email, docs, slides, and storage. In the past I was an Office 365 user and still have it on my Mac to use PowerPoint and Excel.
Team communication – Slack (Free)
I love Slack. There are so many integrations that can make it a blast for your team (Who doesn’t love a good gif?). But more than anything, I believe in transparency. Slack enables transparent communication for your team with ease. Also, you can use the free version until you hire some IT guy who tells you you’re about to get hacked and need to upgrade.
Automation – Zapier (Free or $20/month)
Zapier is a life-saver in a lot of ways. I use it for integrations with Salesforce, Asana, and Slack. Zapier is the application that lets different tools talk to each other. This automation saves a ton of time. My favorite Zap brags to the team on my behalf, as “The Money Man” shows up to alert everyone when we win a deal (trigger is “closed win” in Salesforce) and then the information from Salesforce is sent to everyone in our Team Slack channel. Another useful one: When a deal is closed in Salesforce, Zapier will have post-sales tasks set up automatically in Asana. Who doesn’t enjoy a tool that can brag for you and assign tasks automatically?
Sales prospecting – LinkedIn Sales Navigator ($80/month)
I know I may get some push back on this, but I love LI Sales Navigator. I use it constantly. Its role in the sales org is to drive top of funnel sales leads and to add worthy contacts. There is also a handy Chrome extension that works well with Gmail.
Reliable CRM – Salesforce + Salesforce IQ ($100/month)
I’m a Salesforce fanboy. The data, the integrations, and the ease of reporting are all the reasons. I track my quotas, forecasting, and billing information in Salesforce. My suggestion is to to get the Professional edition and then Salesforce IQ (awesome Gmail integration to add contacts). We later upgraded to the Professional version + API for $125/month for some other needs with Bill.com. I watched a ton of YouTube videos on how to learn this, but have some good tips to get you going. I’m happy to do a write up on how to set up Salesforce, comment below if you’re interested to learn more.
Esignature for contracts – Docusign ($60/month)
There are lots of options to use instead of Docusign, like Echosign. Personally, I love the Salesforce integration and the ease of Docusign. It saves so much time for a sales team to automate this process. My tip is to pay by user at first, but once you cross 2-3 sales people upgrade to the 500 envelopes and negotiate. You can save some major cash by negotiating with their sales team.
Billing and accounts receivable – BillCom ($29/month)
The Hustle’s account manager is also wearing the hat of account receivables (thank you Kera). BillCom helps us send/collect invoices with ease. We later added an integration into Salesforce which automated the entire process. This integration saved a ton of time for an additional $50/month.
Project management – Asana (Free)
All teams need a public project management tool. Asana is free (can be upgraded) tool that allows you to assign tasks, projects, subtasks, and create teams. It is awesome and has allowed our team to have complete transparency on what each team is working on.
The second part of this piece will be about Monetization Strategy, Creating a Sales Story, and Growing a Team.
What other questions can I help you with? Have any tips or tricks in here that you would add? Email me at [email protected].
On to the next 90 days!
A note from The Hustle: Every morning at 9am Pacific, we send an email with the top news stories in business and tech. It's kind of like if your friend read the internet all day then told you the important stuff in a fun, easy to understand way. Join the club and impress your coworkers with how smart you are.