Treat your sales engine like a product

I had a great meeting today with a portfolio company CEO I hadn’t seen in a while. We covered a bunch of ground in the meeting, but the statement that stuck with me the most was how he described the company’s approach to scaling their sales capacity:

“We treat sales like a product and invest accordingly”

Coming from a technical founder who knows what it means to build product, this struck me as the crispest description I’ve heard of how to scale sales excellence in a product-driven company. What did he mean exactly?

  • Be rigorous about analyzing your sales workflows for repetitive process steps and bottlenecks — from top-of-funnel lead gen to post-sales customer success
  • Build automations — using both 3rd-party tools and hand-rolled internal ones — to unblock bottlenecks and add tracking and transparency for every step and handoff
  • Partner with the marketing function to load the system with collateral — decks, email copy and call scripts — and A/B test to discover what works best
  • Invest heavily in training new sales reps in your tool stack, content and analytics *before* they ever talk to a prospect.
  • Measure everything, make those results transparent and use them to drive continuous improvement
This company has executed fantastically well on customer-facing product, but if you ask the CEO he’ll tell you that his “sales product engine” has done more to drive the company’s (rapid) growth than anything they’ve built for customers. Food for thought for any SaaS company founders with great customer-facing product and below-plan sales growth…