INSIDE Inside Sales – Ep 51: The Startup Spirit

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Are you considering creating or joining a startup? There are a lot of challenges that an early-stage company can face as they try to grow, or even just launch. What measurements will you use to track success? Which channels and tools should you use, or conversely, which should you avoid? Most importantly, how can you get financial returns almost immediately?

In this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, Darryl speaks with Scott Berty, the Rockstar Chief Growth Officer at Trufan. Darryl and Scott talk about which strategies can help quickly overcome the challenges of growing those important early accounts. They also discuss effective ways to manage your tech stack, as well as tips for making sales without having to offer painful discounts. It’s all right here on this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales!


Host:  Darryl PraillVanillaSoft

Guest:  Scott Berty, Trufan

 

Darryl Praill: Another week’s gone by folks, glad to have you back. How you doing? My name’s Daryl. This is your first time joining us, welcome to the show. Of course, I know mostly they are repeat listeners and I love the fact that you come back week after week. What’s the best thing folks has happened to you this week?

Darryl Praill: Top of mind, think about it. What is it? Is it a family thing? Is it a work thing? Did you have a victory? Maybe the first thing, you know I asked you for the best thing. What comes to mind is actually a challenge or frustration you have ever have those? Those challenges, those frustrations and you think, “Ah, that sucks. I could have done that so much better.”

Darryl Praill: That’s what life is about, isn’t it? Right. We kind of have our highs and we have our lows and it’s amazing how often the highs and the lows go together. Have you ever noticed that? It’s like, if you’re selling and you have a killer day, you do all the calls, you have a zillion conversations, everybody’s answering the phone, everybody’s replying to email, your LinkedIn post is getting massive traffic. It’s a good day. And then just late in the day, boom, you get that notification that that big deal you’re planning on just fell through, you lost it to the competition, to no decision, to no budget.

Darryl Praill: Whatever it might be, it’s gone. And it’s just, why was it? With the highs come the lows. It is such a fact of life and how we manage that has a dramatic impact on our success. Managing it is kind of interesting because there’s how you manage it. How does it affect you?

Darryl Praill: I’ve talked to people before. I had a Danny Champagne on not too long ago. He mentioned Zig Ziglar and I told a story about how Zig when I was earning these selling. I listened to a recording of his and he made a comment about, when you drive down the road and the car cuts you off, and you’re yelling at them, and you’re cursing at them, and you’re angry at them, you’re driving aggressively because of them. But that car is absolutely oblivious.

Darryl Praill: They’ve actually got on with their day. You’ve had zero impact on them, but they’ve had an impact on you. So clearly in that example, I didn’t handle it well. I chose to give control to somebody else. And that’s what it’s all about. It’s how you handle it. Now there’s also others, right? There’s loved ones, there’s professional colleagues. How they handle it can be very annoying and frustrating. So for example, what I just said to you, you lost that deal.

Darryl Praill: Or maybe it’s a no decision or delayed decision, maybe the rest of the company is going, “Oh, we were counting on that number. We were counting on that deal to hit our quota. Oh, it’s a strategic account, you suck.” Whatever it might be. But you know inside it’s okay, I got this, I got this, I anticipated this. I got the backup plan in effect, just chill guys. Just relax, leave it with me. But the fact is, those people and their reaction puts stress and anxiety on you and maybe it throws you off your game. Whether it’s life or work, but of course this is the INSIDE Sales Show. So it’s always going to be about work, how you handle things in your environment, in your situation, how you manage those around you, who influence you has a direct impact on your success.

Darryl Praill: So I’ll give you an example. I remember one time going into a new job and, and if you heard this story before, I apologize. I sometimes tell stories, over again as you know. And I was young and I was feeling pretty good. I’d got the life was going good, we’d move back near family from being away for a long time. We had our first child, got a killer job at a killer high tech company, it was still small with a big future. And I was the first head of marketing, not a sales analogy, but hear me out, it works out the same. And the boss who had hired me basically after the first day just kind of abandoned me, and not that he was malicious, and he wasn’t being rude to me, a very nice guy.

Darryl Praill: He just had other things to do. And I was just this token hire and he had to hire me cause that’s what you do. And he left me alone and I stumbled for three months desperately looking for feedback, and guidance, and direction, and more, and more, and more getting frustrated with a lack of input, a lack of feedback with what I was doing and never knowing if I was doing it right. And I’m sure some of you can relate to that. Always worried you’re doing it wrong because you’re not getting feedback, so why don’t they give you feedback? Have they already written you off? Or they have you misrepresented, are they not happy? And finally the three month mark, I was ready to quit. And I remember at that point in time we were doing an advertisement campaign and I give it to my boss and I said, you know what [inaudible 00:04:54]

Darryl Praill: And he said, well I’ll get back to you tomorrow. So you guys went the next day and he had said he talked to his wife, and his wife thought the color needed more purple. That was his feedback. I’m not making this up. It wasn’t, what was the message? What was the visual? What was the call to action? It was his wife, not him, I didn’t need it more purple. And that’s when I knew that this wasn’t going to work out for me, or if it was, that I needed to take charge because I had to eliminate the external factors that were threatening my success and just own it. And if I still got canned in the process, I knew head held high that I had done everything I could and I had done what I thought was right. That’s a startup.

Darryl Praill: Sales is no different. Imagine you’re going into a company that’s a fairly new company, high tech company, and you’re their first sales hire. Lot of pressure on you from investors, and the developers, and the CEO, the founder, call it what you will. And you know they’re tech guys, they might know their product, they may know the space, but they don’t necessarily know how to drive revenue. And you, you are their first person, what do you do? You don’t have the same budget, you don’t have the resources, there’s no sales enablement training program in place, content probably doesn’t exist. How are you going to succeed as a sales professional in that environment? Cause you want to, because it’s sexy, because it’s fun. It’s an adventure. But you are on your own. Just like I was in that high tech company. And that’s where my good friend Scott Berty comes in.

Darryl Praill: Scott Berty is the Chief Growth Officer at Trufan. That’s T R U F A N and it’s a pretty cool startup. It’s a platform that actually equips brands so think like major brands. Maybe it’s Nike or Coca Cola, maybe it’s the championship winning Toronto Raptors, so lots of brands. It’s a platform that equips brands with data that activates a grass root community of micro-influencers, or super fans. You know, I’m Canadian, the Rafters just won this year, the championship in the NBA and there was one guy who was a super fan that everybody rallied around. He’d been there from the beginning, he was visible, everybody knew him, they see him on the street. Trufan is all about finding more of those people to grow your brand. That’s a pretty hot space, especially as you see the power of social media and everything else.

Darryl Praill: As the society becomes more divided and more partisan, that’s what Trufan is. Scott was hired to make that company rock, and along the way he’s faced his own sales challenges. Scott, welcome to the show.

Scott Berty: Thank you Darryl, that was a nice warm lead up. Do you have those introductory story sessions each show?

Darryl Praill: Yeah, no, I try to have them every five, six minutes. Some people wish I was a lot shorter. I actually had a conversation the other day with our podcast editor. I started finding my rhythm on the show several months ago and he and I hadn’t talked in months, right? Cause we produce it, we flip it to him, he does the editing, he posts it, and away we go. And so we had a chance to catch up recently and I said, Hey, have you noticed that’s what we’re doing now?

Darryl Praill: And his comment was, I did. And I said, what do you think? And he goes, at first I thought it was ego. I thought it was just you wanting to hear yourself. And I said, okay, I didn’t see that coming. But I love that he was so honest with me, right? And I said, it’s not. And he goes, no, no. He goes, I love it now. He goes, cause he edits every one. He goes, I love it. He goes, actually that’s my best part of the editing process is I love hearing your stories. He goes not a lot of people do that. He goes, but at first I wasn’t sure. Just goes to show you in the common situation [inaudible 00:08:33] . You just never know what sometimes people have. You’d do something with the best of intentions.

Scott Berty: Yeah.

Darryl Praill: It doesn’t always work out.

Scott Berty: Well…

Darryl Praill: So talk to me about… [crosstalk 00:08:38] Go ahead.

Scott Berty: Without talking about your show too much and the way you do it. It’s a good way to start the show because it lends itself to giving people the inspiration to think about perspective I think. And the whole perspective aspect of whatever people, life, sales, work, you kind of talked to the two different silos.

Scott Berty: It plays a key role in the growth of anybody, I do believe is the ability to kind of like look at different experiences whether they’re your own or whether they’re executives like yourself, people that we look up to, mentors, public figures, just as perspective and they can dramatically, I think attribute to where your future goes, whether it be career or life-oriented and have a lot of impact on the results, and success, you may have over time as well. It made me think about a lot of things there on the, on the challenges side, it seems like the last several weeks I’ve been thinking about how I could have spent a little more time setting my fantasy lineup. And that is, that little bit of time is resulting in some Ls the last few weeks.

Scott Berty: So I’m trying to decide on how much more time I should ramp up on the fantasy efforts. And then so too on the sales and work side, I wanted to talk about one quick thing there is when I was working, probably the earliest form of sales I ever did more in a direct capacity is actually direct sales are referred to as direct marketing, but selling items that people are coming into stores not expecting to see.

Scott Berty: So basically just crap off the shelves. But when I was in that role, they did have a number of different marketing systems that they relied on, and one of them, one of the things that factored into it was how you always want to leave life at the door, or kind of personal stuff at the door. Because oftentimes I feel like one of the biggest negatives that can plague, whether it be salespeople or professionals, is their day to day life, and their personal life, that may kind of trickle in through the door with them to their desk, and with them when they’re on the phones, and different things of that nature. Which can ultimately have a very negative effect on the outcomes of those efforts.

'I feel like one of the biggest negatives that can plague professionals is their day to day life...that may trickle in through the door...Which can ultimately have a very negative effect on the outcomes of your efforts.' ~ @Scott_Berty… Click To Tweet

Scott Berty: And really a negative effect on the surrounding employees, the culture and different things of that nature. So they always kind of talked about leaving the personal stuff at the door and that’s a skill that many don’t have, actually. I’ve realized over the course of time, and it’s one of the reasons I feel blessed to have worked in a startup is two are often combined into one life and work. In that stage show, you don’t think about those things as much, but I think people are naturally driven more by the work than anything else. So that often is, their life outside of work is more work. And in a corporate world, boy, you can really get caught up in that. So, yeah some good thoughts. I just had to kind of get those out there cause you got me thinking.

Darryl Praill: Well let me ask you this, let’s start the stage. So for those who are listening who are at a startup or it is called an early stage company, even if it’s not truly a startup and maybe the team isn’t big, maybe they’re the only ones, or maybe they have aspirations of joining a company like that. You’ve gone through that. So when you took on that role, I’m kind of curious, what were the expectations placed upon you? What did you have, what did you walk into, if anything, as far as systems or processes in our install base and where did you start?

Scott Berty: It’s a good question. It’s probably a little bit different than most people that may get hired into a startup to grow maybe their sales efforts, or to lead their sales efforts, and their sales team. For me because at the time of joining I was more or less part of the founding team we, to kind of give you a bit of the backstory.

Scott Berty: So as you know, I was kind of very active on LinkedIn and saw I guess through a personal lens some ability to grow personally and professionally through that platform. And the kind of means that they were providing any professional out there, which is really just a lot of organic content reach. And so through that I ended up meeting Swish, who’s the founder and CEO over there. We started talking about the idea a little bit back and forth through, this would have been November, early December 2017. And then when he was kind of committed to having me be a part of that project and I had committed myself to, I’m really trying to own that project and saying hey, this is something that I know based off my external kind of career circumstances, that I know I want to put my effort and passion into kind of make some of my life’s work.

Scott Berty: Once we saw eye to eye there, helped create some of the initial content for the first website in December 2017, he brought in some of the other years that he had been speaking with from around the world, about that particular project and start up in January of 2018 so the start of the next year and we started doing team calls after that. I guess speaking a little to the expectations that were placed upon me, and when we finally figured out the core team, or the core founding team, which would’ve been probably mid February, and that was around the same time that I quit my full time job to focus on the startup. There wasn’t really that much expectation. It was more so the expectation that we were all going to do the work that we saw needed. To push things always to, whether it be the next level, or the next piece of content, whatever it may be.

Scott Berty: But ultimately just keep moving things forward. And I was brought in, or we decided as my title as for the head of sales position, so somebody who would ultimately lead our sales efforts lead to growth of any sort of sales team. So there could have been expectations whether it be on the hiring side, or right through to revenue. But at that time as well, even when I had a title we had nothing to sell. So that also comes into play on the type of expectations that can be set. A lot of my work got spread across marketing, copywriting, content related things. I continued to be active on LinkedIn and I think that was inevitably an expectation at the start. I’d say that’s kind of a situation that I got into. How it’s grown since then is certainly the expectations continue to grow.

Scott Berty: And you kind of touched on it, whether it be internally or through the stakeholders that include advisors, investors, and even customers. But it’s been an interesting path and I’m sure we dive deeper into it, but it’s definitely different I think than most. And if people do get hired directly into a position, when things are already off the ground, and maybe those more traditional tech founders have already built the product, which wasn’t really the case in our scenario, it can be a lot different. And you know what I mean? Those extra expectations could even be linked to a three month trial term where hey, if they’re not really seeing the numbers that you’d expect by the end of that three months there could be a door. So I guess I was lucky in that position.

Darryl Praill: All right, so when we come back we’re gonna quick little break where I’m going to do a fast and furious round with Scott. We’re going to talk about all the challenges he had to overcome, what he did, and lessons learned, so you can apply those exact same tactics and not make the mistakes he did. Stay tuned, we’ll be right back.

Darryl Praill: All right, fast and furious. I’ve got about four or five things I want to nail here before we run out of time. First off, so the company matures, you’re trying to break into accounts to get revenue. Did you have existing tools, CRM, conversational analytics, video, at a core, LinkedIn navigator. Did you have any tools when you started?

Scott Berty: When we started, I started out administering the freemium version of HubSpot so we did have the CRM, getting buy in across the organization is probably the most difficult challenge I had to face, and that I continue to face. Just given the fact that we’re still considerably smaller team and some of the responsibilities, as it relates to sales, do leak into almost everyone’s role to some capacity. And it’s something that we’re slowly trying to change, but getting that buy in is absolutely critical for anybody out there who’s in that position of implementing those systems, and maybe getting that agreement first before you even start to implement something could be worth your while, so you’re not wasting time. They’re ultimately affecting your own happiness and that time you’re putting in. Yeah we had that, certainly that kind of links to their marketing automation system.

Scott Berty: We had a little bit of capabilities through there. When we pass the MVP, we actually were part of an incubator, or we had free office space through Hootsuite at that time. So HubSpot also has a startup program that any other person who’s been in a startup, that’s gone through an accelerator, or an incubator, pretty much anywhere globally you can apply for. And so at the time when we really turned the lights on and actively tried to start selling it, we did go through that program which gave us 90% off their professional suites. So $1,600 worth of software for 160 bucks a month, that’s incredible savings. And then the followup two years, we’re now on 75% off for the next two years. That’s a great deal that people that they should look into on the note of other tools, I think it’s mainly Slack.

Scott Berty: We’ve always had great use for communication and trying to segment that. We’ve added video email, in our case we use a bit of Loom, but we also use Dub is the other one it’s pretty cost-effective video calling platform, video, email platform. Similar to Vidyard. That I know you guys use a VanillaSoft. Those tools have been really helpful.

Darryl Praill: All right, so now you get your tech stack in place, you’re equipped, and now you’re trying to break into accounts in your startup. So really you guys have a say minimal existing brand. Your customer base is still small and emerging. What challenges did you have breaking into those accounts and what did you do to overcome those challenges?

Scott Berty: So I think part of what we did initially was try to validate the MVP as much as we could. It wasn’t so much about how we could increase our revenues pretty substantially within the first few months of having an actual product. But it was really getting the feedback from the customers or the users. So pushing it out into kind of our warm network and really seeing on a high level, bigger brands, what sort of connections that we already had would be intrigued with the platform and interested in potentially using it or adopting it internally and starting out with just having them test the platform and actually use it. So there’s a little bit of that on the other side of things, we’re looking at potential bigger accounts and a bit more strategically on if we were to spend our time targeting few different clients, whatever, maybe a group of 10 to 20 to 30, what 10 to 30 clients, or prospects would be worth our time exploring at that stage.

Scott Berty: Who we know would ultimately have alignment with the product and some synergies there. But even more so knowing it might be a little bit of a longer sales cycle, like making sure we are supplementing that with a customer that was actually going to give us the type of revenue we are hoping for at the end of the day. Which didn’t always work. But definitely looking for some potential larger customers and even more so in the sense of partnerships, people who really wanted to support the growth of the product, not just buy it in a sense. So that was something that I look for early on. I think the way we’d go about doing that for the most part was leveraging each other’s relationships. Swish had a number of connections on LinkedIn that we could either go through for potential introductions, or just looking out at warm connections that he would already have.

Scott Berty: Same thing with myself, and finding some of those early adopters at that point, I think is the biggest key. The more you can kind of approach that in terms of potential partnerships I think rather than customers is a great idea. And then ultimately trying to build relationships with some of those other people who are more so testing the product over the course of time so that there does come a time where they feel enough confidence in you, as of partner and a vendor, that it’s a no brainer. They’re more interested in buying the product rather than you having to sell it to them.

Darryl Praill: All right, what I’m hearing a lot from here is you relied heavily on social, heavily on personal relationships, or even just based on reputation you knew of each other and you thought highly of each other. And then part of your job really wasn’t just to be in a sales development rep, or an account executive, it was also to be a relationship manager to grow those in a new opportunities. All right. What tactics did not work? Did you try the phone did to try email?

Scott Berty: Yeah, we’ve done and continue to do a lot of both of those. I try to use the phone as much as I can. It’s sometimes difficult when you do have a number of other relationships that you’re moving along the pipeline. You’re trying to fit in that time for prospecting. I do make times for it. Over the course of time, what we’ve done, especially since I hired our first business development manager, going back to May was we’d set aside a time twice a month, or so, and just call it a sales grind where everybody’s in a room the entire day, you get lunch or something, go and take your recess. But for the most part we’re just in there banging the phones, building a new prospect list, and at some point in time we also added DiscoverOrg, or having that as a prospecting tool to shorten the time that’s needed to acquire those lists of buyers.

Scott Berty: Incredibly helpful. We haven’t seen a tremendous return on that yet I would say. The email side of things, we’ve done a bit of Outbound, we’ve seen some success come through that. We’ve had some leads like Groupon and some others come through those types of channels on Outbound email campaigns and then just coming back through either from a link through our website or one of the CTS that were included in the emails. But one of the two of the things that I would encourage other people out there to think about, one of the things that we’re going to be testing come 2020 is going to be some direct mail campaigning, so not initially for cold prospects, but thinking about it after you’ve reached somebody, whether that’d be through an email campaign that you’re highly interested in actually getting in front of them or somebody that you’ve already given a demo to.

Scott Berty: They may be a little bit stagnant, they’ve gone back to talk to a couple of other executives or senior leadership internally, and it seems to be kind of bottle-necking that deal. How can you slowly push some of those through the funnel and finesse them through? We’re going to try and use direct mail. That’s something that I heard has been working wonders for some B2B companies out there, accounting for almost half of their deal flow. And then another thing would be events. I think the more you can leverage very cost-effective events to get out there in front of a number of different people, but just have you there. Whether it be three days and consistency or, the one day of that event, even if you’re just there as somebody who’s participating in the event and networking, it’s just an amazing way to reach a lot of people in a short period of time. And it may not always come out of that with a dozen leads, but even two highly qualified leads can be better than spending a full day on the phone.

'How can you slowly push some of those through the funnel and finesse them through? We're going to try and use direct mail.' ~ @Scott_Berty #SalesTips #SalesStrategy Click To Tweet

Darryl Praill: Now, you finally get their attention. No matter you got it and now you’re being considered. At that consideration stage what have you learned as a gorilla startup, sales growth officer to bring that deal across the finish line?

Scott Berty: Probably the biggest lesson is not… Unless you’re in situation where there’s somebody on the other side that you know is highly committed to adopting the technology into either their workflow or their employee’s workflow. Not giving them that tool for free, with some sort of free trial. I know you’ve actually spoken about how you guys are moving away from free trials a bit or testing that. For us it was just a major difference in the sense that we’d have so many nice potential buyers that are supporting our product and giving it some great feedback. But at the end of the day where they’re really interested in buying it, you can get stuck up at those points with a number of different buyers if you’re not clear about the expectation for you, right? As the kind of supplier, as the technology vendor. And so we moved to more of a paid pilot style of kind of pushing them through the funnel and towards the end if they weren’t totally committed to more of a longterm deal off the bat.

Scott Berty: And that helped to eliminate any of those people who at any point in time they won’t be signing some longterm contract because they were just not interested in actually buying the product. Maybe they didn’t have the budget, maybe they weren’t the one who can sign off. It helps accelerate that deal. And then thinking about the actual pipeline more and more as we move forward, and trying to refine certain actions that need to be taken to move people through the pipeline, and things like that.

Scott Berty: Having certain qualifying questions that have been answered much earlier on, or making sure that certain people are part of the conversation much earlier on, to prevent that bottle necking towards the end of, that pipeline in the buyer’s journey. That I would say is the biggest thing, is really just trying to set the expectation that the product’s going to cost something at the end of the day. It’s great to have users, but we’re a SAS company so we’re not really looking for that consumer market. And if you make it seem like people can start onboarding your products for next to nothing, that’s what they’re going to want to do.

Darryl Praill: Would you have had that attitude two years ago? Cause you sounded to me like I’m worth this. If you’re not willing to spend this then thank, but no thanks, I’m moving on. Would you have had that kind of mentality two years ago or you developed that?

Scott Berty: No, I think I’ve developed a lot of this mentality that I have now. It’s really just about the experiences that I’ve gone through and being part of a startup from really the very beginning to where we are now and still knowing that there’s so much more progress to be made. You almost come out of it with an MBA specifically majoring in startups I suppose. But there’s just so much that you can learn when you’re actually executing and dealing with the ebbs and flows that happen so frequently together. There’d be months over the course of the past year where for two, three months, currently I’m closing deals left, right and center. It just seems like no day can end on a bad note. And then there’ll be, you talk about days, these stretches could go on for days, weeks, months. Even sometimes over the last year where it’s like, “Oh my God, like last month I was absolutely killing it. I cannot seem to push somebody through to a close the life of me this month.”

Scott Berty: And you kind of look back, you evaluate what have I been doing potentially that I could be doing different, are there things on the product side that we still haven’t been addressing that could be holding these deals up. There’s a number of different places that you can go to, not necessarily blame, but trying to evaluate where you can tighten things up. And I think that that’s what I try to do now more than anything. And that’s as a result of the mindset that I’ve kind of created for myself over the last year, so a lot of learning.

Darryl Praill: In one minute or less. For somebody who’s in your shoes now, or is in your shoes a year previous, in other words where they are now is where you were a year ago, or 18 months ago. You look back upon what you’ve done, Chief Growth Officer, coming in to an early stage company, what one thing do you highly recommend they do and what mistake can they avoid?

Scott Berty: If you’re in a position where you’re managing a bit more of the process and not just some of the day to day on the sales side, I would definitely encourage you to make sure that anybody around you who is also helping with sales is buying into the process that you’ve created, which either links back to the CRM, or any sort of admin dashboard that you may have built into the platform, but ultimately a way of tracking all the different conversations through a pipeline and making sure that each call, each activity metric is being tracked. Because at the end of the day it’s so much easier to go back and try and figure out how you can improve, where you can improve, when you have that data to report on and it’s going to be easier when your CEO is asking you why certain leaps and bounds haven’t been made.

Scott Berty: And then I think if you’re in the position where you’re more so on the sales side directly, I think look at the tools that a lot of people aren’t using. Sales navigator on LinkedIn can be interesting, but I think LinkedIn as a platform just has a tremendous amount of white space still and I would imagine if you compare yourself to a hundred other reps in your same industry, potentially within the same type of product line, 90% of them, if not more, are not actively posting on LinkedIn. That’s one way you can differentiate yourself in a major way.

Darryl Praill: Love it. All right, so that was something different folks. A little bit of a startup spirit, you know cause the challenges are different there than they are in a more mature company. You have less resources, less budget, less staff and in some regards almost more heat because it’s do or die when you’re that young.

Darryl Praill: My guest today, if you don’t recall Scott Berty, Chief Growth Officer from Trufan check them out. He is, I can tell you this for a fact, best reached on LinkedIn, although he’s really good at responding to text too. But I guess you need to have his number for that. Scott, thank you so much for your time today, sir.

Scott Berty: Thanks Darryl, appreciate you having me on, man.

Darryl Praill: That my friends is another episode of Inside INSIDE Sales. We hope you had fun today, I had a blast. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye bye.