Scaling a sales team to 26X revenue growth

Three months ago I wrote about launching the Sales & Partnerships team at The Hustle.

The budget was $300 and the team was, well, just me. It gave you a glimpse into the mindset, revenue goals, and tools that we used at that time.

I promised I would write an update, so here are some accomplishments we’ve had since the start of 2017:

There are thousands of lessons learned and decisions made that allowed our team to accomplish so much these past 6 months, but for you entrepreneurs and sales leaders interested, here are my top 3:

Mastering Your Sales Story

When I was studying education I learned this fancy term called differentiated instruction.

The basic premise is every student learns differently and, in order for each student to understand the information, you have to diversify your instruction to each student.

So what does this mean when it comes to mastering a sales story?

  1. Create a story that is relatable. One of my favorite facts about The Hustle is that our co-founders, Sam and John, met each other through a shared Airbnb. How freaking Millennial is that? Soon I discovered that tidbit didn’t mean anything to some people, namely some of the marketing execs we pitched. The goal of that line is to foster a sense of credibility with the audience, and maybe even get a good laugh. If I don’t think a person will get that result, then I don’t say it.
  2. Each word you say should sell the next word. If you don’t think a word or phrase will do that, then don’t say it. The Hustle team does our homework before hopping on a call. In fact, we know most of the answers to the questions we are asking. This doesn’t mean we don’t have a genuine interest in getting to know that person. Rather, it’s the opposite: we care. We care enough to make sure we are guiding conversation in a direction that benefits the person/prospect/client on the phone.

One of the slides from our main media deck

So how do you get started on making your sales story?

Culture of Winning

From day one, I wasn’t sure what we could accomplish in terms of revenue goals. One thing I did know is that I wanted to be sure to celebrate every victory. Creating a sales team can be like training for a marathon. At first, you celebrate when you finish 5 miles and then 6 months later you get mad when you don’t run 14 miles at your desired pace. This is a common and terrible mistake for a sales team. You can’t continue to level up without recognizing each time you do it and where you came from. A culture of winning doesn’t make you feel like you are a loser if you aren’t at 100% to goal.

  1. When we started to hire more sales folks, the goal was to continue to celebrate micro-goals while keeping macro-vision. This means the team celebrates anything and everything, while I’m keeping the team’s eye on our big quarterly/annual goals. We execute this by rewarding small victories (meetings set, opps created, etc.) almost weekly. Keeping the focus on weekly goals prevents our sellers from getting overwhelmed with our massive team goal while also keeping morale high if we have a bad week or two with revenue booked. (Yes, it happens!)
  2. Put the team revenue goal in front of all individual goals. We only hire intrinsically-motivated sellers. When I interview someone, I don’t want to hear how they are solely money motivated; I want to hear how they love to win. There’s a difference. On our sales board we only display team revenue goals. Why? Because this team of people who love to win get motivated by seeing our company win. Our revenue model has allowed us to hit our team target even if everyone on the team hits 80% of their own individual target. Some may say we could push our individuals harder, but I say let’s put the odds in our favor to win. Keeping the company winning keeps sellers motivated to achieve their own individual success. Now imagine what happens when everyone on the team hits 100% of their individual goal.

The Hustle Team + Sam’s parents

Turning Customers into Champions

The biggest factor of success- and what I pay attention to the most- is our renewal rate and existing business revenue.

Facebook and Google own 60% of the digital advertising landscape. There are thousands of publishers fighting for this small piece of pie. The good news is that in media, unlike software, multiple publishers can win each deal. The real challenge is making sure your piece of the pie is growing.

  1. Marketing is like dating. This is why our top selling entry package is branded “The Blind Date.” I believe Facebook and Google are so powerful because they allow a marketer to dip in their toe in terms of budget/investment. They allow a brand to have a small test that allows them to understand a baseline and give them analytics, showing them how to improve. That way, the marketer can easily double down and make a larger investment. This is our goal with every partner.
  2. Set real expectations and be transparent. We’ve found that the best — if not the only — way to grow a relationship with a marketer is to be transparent with what we can and can’t do. This starts by our media deck having all of our rates and average engagement metrics. If you’re hiding behind those stats, you’re not trying to build a relationship. People like certainty. I am certain I will prioritize The Hustle’s values over any partner and I am certain I won’t ever mislead a partner. It’s easy to lie or misinterpret CTR’s to get a quick sale but it’s impossible to grow a relationship based off those false pretenses.
“Working with the crew over at The Hustle has been one of the most enjoyable partnerships we’ve had. Aside from the perfectly seamless working relationship, their editorial team truly works wonders on the content they produce — seriously, I get asked on a weekly basis when our next Hustle inclusion is dropping. Plus, who doesn’t love super-engaged audiences and consistently hitting 2.5x ROAS?”
– Marketing Manager @ MVMT

Here are some other ways we are turning our customers into champions:

Have other things you’d like to know or want to see if you’re a fit to be a partner of The Hustle? Email me at adam@thehustle.co.

Want to join our pirate ship? Check out all the openings we have here.