Former Salesforce Director of Sales Shares How He Helped Grow Revenues To Over $100 Million With Aaron Ross



How do we grow revenues?

It’s a question I ask myself almost every day and it’s a fun problem to try to tackle. Having an internet marketing background pushes me to utilize more inbound strategies such as content marketing, SEO or social.

But what about tried and true sales strategies? I wanted to learn how to build a scalable revenue stream for Single Grain so I thought who better to talk to other than Aaron Ross, the author of best-selling sales book Predictable Revenue and the former Director of Sales at Salesforce.

There are TONS of gold nuggets in this video so make sure to take notes. Here’s the video (key takeaways are right below video):

Seeds, nets, spears

  • Spears – for the sales team to target. Prospectors help create a predictable pipeline and such
  • Seeds – word of mouth
  • Nets – mass marketing and inbound marketing (create great content, etc.)

Not all leads are created equal

Salespeople shouldn’t prospect

  • They aren’t very good at it
  • They don’t like it
  • Hard to juggle even if you are good at it
  • It all comes down to time management and focus

Where to get leads

  •,, etc.
  • If you have a unique market niche and can’t buy a pre-made database: Watch the news, read blogs, social media, etc. for ideas
  • If your lead generation sucks, you’re going to struggle, even if you have a brilliant sales process.
  • is a great resource if you need custom help

How to hire good prospectors

  • A Neat Recruiting Process
  • Experience doesn’t matter – drive, enthusiasm, entrepreneurial flair matters
  • The potential of the person matters more.
  • 2/3 grow your people from the ground up
  • 1/3 hire veterans

When is the right time to bring on a VP of sales?

  • Don’t hire one immediately when you are early stage.
  • They need to have the resources to succeed otherwise you are wasting a lot of time and money
  • More on the mistakes CEOs make in hiring wrong VP Sales:

On telemarketing companies…

  • Don’t outsource until figure it out on your own
  • Most aren’t too helpful

On buying lists

  • (good for tech companies for $5k for a year), for bigger companies

On setting initial goals for salespeople

  • It takes 4-6 months for a brand new company. E.g. if you are trying to generate 10 leads a month per prospector.
  • In 2-6 weeks you should be getting in people with people that can make decisions.
  • A ‘qualified lead’ is someone that the closer decides to work on

On recording commissions

  • Most people use Salesforce
  • Can use a spreadsheet and use a team manager to record
  • Prospectors should get a base
  • Desperate salespeople are never a great thing.
  • Variable commission is tied to % of revenue that comes from leads and also # of qualified leads.

On processes

  • Most companies lose 20-40% of salespeople a year
  • A good process would lose 10%
  • You gotta give them good leads, you’re not training them, you’re not managing them well and there’s no good process

Cold E-mail 2.0 – The new prospecting approach

  • Use a referral approach by phone or e-mail
  • Find a way to get referred to the decision maker
  • Reach out to the person at the top first and ask for a referral
  • – template on how to prospect
  • Prospecting call is intended to see if it there is a way for help or if it’s a waste of time and then move on and NOT ‘HOW CAN I SELL YOU??’
  • Number of e-mails to be sent per month – 1,000 cold e-mails a month to start.
  • Aim for a 5% response rate – could be a negative/neutral/positive
  • Try to be a sniper, not a shotgun approach
  • E-mail 4 days a week (M-Th) – morning or afternoon
  • Don’t send too many e-mails because you start to lose track of things.
  • How to send mass e-mails – marketing automation or using mail merge or Tout
  • for e-mail templates
  • E-mail is usually the first point of contact, then phone is follow up.
  • Tip: if you e-mail and someone responds and the number is in the e-mail. call them immediately.
  • If e-mails don’t work, do mapping calls
  • Prospecting teaches you how to talk about what you do where people get what you do

On marketing automation software

  • He lumps it into ‘inbound marketing’ also known as ‘netting’.

How soon should you be calling qualified inbound leads?

  • Instantly is best. A day or two max.
  • If you don’t have infinite capacity, call them instantly and then update your lead processes.
  • Good customers are excited to talk to you.

On determining the right commission

  • Research via Google
  • It comes down to how much margin you have
  • It also comes down to how much you can afford to pay them
  • If you’re trying to build a new sales team, do not try to come up with a comp plan right away. You can’t do so without some kind of track record of data.


Image credit: smswigart

Disclaimer: As with any digital marketing campaign, your individual results may vary.