GE Ep 64: The Sales Structure that Grew SalesLoft into the Fastest-Growing SaaS Company in the US

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SalesLoft sales structure

Hi everyone, today we’re talking to Kyle Porter, the CEO of SalesLoft, a company that’s jumped up to $3.7 million in revenue in the last 10 months with over 22,000 users. They’re doing some interesting stuff in the sales world, so this interview will be particularly interesting for anyone involved in sales or SaaS: he gives a lot of gold nuggets on how to build a sales team, like finding talent and giving the team structure. He also gives details at the end of the interview for Growth Everywhere listeners to redeem 50 free credits to try SalesLoft for themselves.

A Love of Sales at an Early Age Lead to the Establishment of a Sales-Based Company

From a young age, Kyle Porter was selling anything he could: from baseball cards to beanie babies.

Even after he grew up and went to one of the nation’s top engineering schools, Georgia Tech, he couldn’t get away from his business-bent mindset.

After trying what he calls a few fun ventures and taking on a few roles at other startups, he established SalesLoft in late 2011 as a company that was all about sales and marketing.

What SalesLoft is & How its Own Product Helped it Grow

SalesLoft is a pair of two tools, called Prospector and Cadence, that help sales teams gather a list of quality prospects and turn that list into high-quality, qualified conversations.

As of January 2014, SalesLoft had grown into a company with 30 clients and $200,000 dollars in annual revenue. By October 2014, they were at 660 clients and $3.7 million in recurring revenue. With these numbers, they could very well be the fastest-growing SaaS startup in 2014.

In fact, their sales reps were so regularly beating their quotas by 400% that there’s a Slideshare presentation (link below) on how they managed it. Needless to say, their quotas have since been adjusted to something higher that more accurately fits what they’re able to accomplish, but many are still beating the quota by 2x.

How SalesLoft Finds Great Sales Prospectors

Of course, great people are essential to doing great work.

To help accomplish their goals for growth and find people who can regularly meet and exceed their quotas, Kyle says SalesLoft seeks out people who are  constantly positive, supportive and self-starting. They try to find candidates who consistently “punch above their weight class” and are ready to take on a bigger challenge.

He gives examples of what kind of companies he likes to hire people from:

•Folks from recruiting companies: they’re good with phone and email conversations, and handle rejection well

•People with experience selling financial services like insurance executives and brokers

•Individuals from software companies dealing with contract sizes that are close in value and volume to what SalesLoft deals with

One recommendation he makes is to get involved with the community, like SalesLoft is involved in the Atlanta Tech Village, to get the word out about open positions and make hiring easier.

Where to Find Account Executives and Closers

The best option, says Kyle, is to promote from within and look for good members of your sales development team.

But to get started, he looked for people coming from similar software companies in terms of product space, pricing, and contract value.

He pays these executives anywhere from a $40,000 to $90,000 base salary plus commissions on the sales they close.

SalesLoft’s Successful Sales Process

Each outbound sales representative at SalesLoft contacts 50 new people per day by email using Cadence. Later on in the day, they call those 50 people inside of Cadence, and when they get on the phone, it gets automatically logged inside Salesforce.

In total, each prospect gets contacted seven times within seven days: 3 emails + 4 phone calls.

Throughout the following days, there’s email follow-up for prospects who didn’t answer the first email and phone calls to those that didn’t pick up the first time. What happens with so much contact is that the sales reps either get an answer one way or another: the prospect isn’t interested, or they’d like to learn more. After seven days, there’s an 80% response rate.

How SalesLoft’s Got Their First 100 Clients & Beyond

SalesLoft didn’t always have a robust sales team… in fact the first 10 clients were won by Kyle & his other two founders hustling to leverage their relationships in Atlanta’s technology community.

After their first 10 clients, they hired a sales person and an account executive that grew them to 100 clients from the inbound leads they were getting from a free product they offered called JobChangeAlerts.com (no longer active).

After that, they moved to an outbound sales model that really filled up their funnel.

The 3 Hardest Things About Growing a Business

  1. Finding Good Software Developers: Kyle says they did a great job hiring their first six developers, but now things are getting difficult – especially in finding software developers who are business-minded.
  2. Pricing: Figuring out how to charge clients is always a challenge: month to month vs annually? or based on emails or users?
  3. Maintaining Company Culture: Kyle says you’ll have trouble if you don’t establish a company culture upfront or work hard to maintain it. To help, he recommends coming up with a short list of core values (SalesLoft has 3) that everyone in the company can recite.

The Dreamforce Marketing Hack

Dreamforce has been a huge benefit to SalesLoft for various reasons. In addition to speaking opportunities, said Kyle, at the last event, 40 of the 140 sponsors were SalesLoft clients. At the conference, he was able to go around and thank them for their business and ask them how he could improve the product or help them out in other ways.

The coolest thing about the conference though, he thought, was when SalesLoft’s marketing guy showed up with a Marc Benioff impersonator with a body guard and PR agent and walked around the conference doing more than 30 selfies. After two days, the real Marc Benioff came by to meet the impersonator, the SalesLoft team, and to take selfies with everyone – and of course, tweeted about it.

Advice to His 25-Year-Old Self

“It is no time to do what you hate – do what you love; it’ll ale you successful, passionate, and awesome.”

Must-Read Books

  1.  How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  2. Tony Robbins audio tapes
  3. RSVP Selling (The Joshua Principle) by Tony Hughes

One Productivity Hack

Birdhouse: it’s a free tool that aggregates tweets from the top 12 people you want to follow on Twitter and sends you an email with their last 24 hours of activity. It can also integrate with your Salesforce account to figure out who your top 12 people are, and update your list according to that. It helps you cut through the clutter since Twitter is such a busy, noisy place.

A Free Offer for Growth Everywhere Listeners

If you sign up for the free version of SalesLoft Prospector, you’ll get an auto responder from Kyle that says “Thanks for signing up.”

Hit reply and type, “Kyle promised me some free shit” to get 50 free credits.

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