How a top revops consultant helps startups grow revenue in 4 steps
Let me tell you a funny story about how I got into sales.
My first job as a sales engineer was in New York City. I was being mentored by a guy named Marlon—ASU grad, party boy, very effective salesman.
He invited me to his Upper West Side apartment for a Cinco de Mayo party. To this day, I clearly remember the moment I walked in: the square footage of his balcony overlooking an Upper West Side park was bigger than my entire apartment on the Lower East Side.
I turned to him and said, “Marlon, how do you afford all this?”
He smiled at me and gave me a reply I’ll never forget: “Brother, don’t you know? If I need more, I sell more.”
That was the moment I learned about commissions.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you about my career path, how I formed my own unique philosophy of sales, and how I use that philosophy to help business owners accelerate their sales and revenue.
(Psst… listen to the full interview here)
My philosophy of sales: It’s facilitation, not manipulation
I was trained as a computer engineer and worked for some time as a software developer. But as I learned more about the technical side of software, I became interested in the business problems that were generating these technical requirements.
I moved into sales engineering, and two years after the above encounter with Marlon, I transitioned into a sales role.
Being an engineer helped shape my unique philosophy of sales. Engineers deal with systems, and people (especially groups of people) can also be thought of as systems.
Here’s my core sales philosophy: It’s not manipulation, it’s facilitation.
My belief is that, as a salesperson or a startup founder, you accrue a percentage of the value you create. That’s why, to me, the number one quality of a successful salesperson is empathy.
Having the ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes tells you what the person really needs and desires. If you can connect with people through empathy, you’ll always be making money because you’ll be able to fulfill true needs and desires.
How an empathetic sales rep proved this to me in real life
Here’s a real example of this: I was introduced to a sales rep for a product that I absolutely hated. This rep invited me to a demo, and because I trusted the person who introduced us, I decided to go.
We get on the call, and the guy asks me: “Hey, are there any questions I can answer for you upfront?”
My answer: “Yeah, I hate your product. So, what’s up? Bring your A-game.”
His response was, “Oh man, I love this, thanks for being so honest with me.”
In the next half-hour, he showed the shit out of the product. Turns out, the product had changed materially without a lot of press and fanfare. Within half an hour, I went from ice cold to a converted evangelist. It all happened because he was empathetic and I responded to that.
4 strategies I use to help companies improve their revenue process
I started Growth Robot to help startups and businesses grow their revenue. We help companies with sales and marketing frontend problems, CRM selection and optimization, fulfillment and sales ops, and more.
We like to look at businesses through three lenses: people, process, and technology.
Here are some of the strategies we use to help companies grow using our own proprietary processes:
1. First find product-market fit, then scale like heck
Essentially, a startup is a temporary organization in search of a profitable unit case. A business is a more permanent organization dedicated to replicating the unit case.
That’s why, first and foremost, a startup must find that profitable unit case. Then, they can start to scale to a point when they have product-market fit.
What does this look like? For a SaaS company selling a high-ticket product, that could be anywhere from $20k to $50k MRR.
When you have that clear product-market fit, this is the key moment to start scaling like heck. Not before, not too far after.
Here’s where you go after that:
2. Use who you are to drive your sales vision
Technology and process always come after people. In my mind, everything starts with people.
That’s why, when Growth Robot enters the picture with a new client, our first questions are:
- Who the heck are you?
- What the heck are you trying to do?
I find that, in most successful startups, the product comes out of the person. So, whether you’re selling SaaS, services, or consulting, that will come out of who you are.
That’s why sales vision should always start with the people—this is where the vision is generated.
3. Create a process before you upgrade your early-stage technology
A proper sales process is key, and must be in place before you can implement the right technology, like a CRM.
Above, you started to scale the heck out of something in the early stages of the customer journey: lead generation and prospecting. After that, things typically start breaking down in the next stage: fulfillment and ops.
There’s a number of things that will differ in your process depending on if you’re selling SaaS or high-ticket services, which is where Growth Robot normally comes in to evaluate the situation and help guide you. But smoothing out that process has to come first.
Then, you can turn your attention to the technology.
As a founder, you probably started out with a Google Sheet and Trello. Then, your offer took off like hotcakes. As you work on fulfillment, prospecting takes a backseat and starts to dip. This is an endless cycle as a solopreneur.
At this point, in order to continue scaling your startup, you’ll need to build an early-stage process that’s easy to replicate, and then remove yourself from that process as much as possible.
The obvious solution is hiring a salesperson. But is that person going to adopt Google Sheets and Trello? They might if the offer is amazing and they can make good commissions, but that will become unwieldy very quickly, especially if you start scaling to multiple salespeople.
This is where Growth Robot normally steps in to help. Our main goal at this point is to help founders and organizations upgrade their sales process and match the right technology to make that process flow more smoothly.
Essentially, what your business needs at this point is a CRM software. After all, your sales team can’t live in a Google Sheets CRM forever (although it’s a good starting point for the early stages of your business).
In most cases, we recommend Close as a startup and SaaS CRM. When you have one single source of truth, one system to look at, you can eliminate bottlenecks and really start to scale.
4. Scale your sales team after process and tech is in place
Scaling is an eternal question for most startup founders and sole consultants. When you’re prospecting for new clients and doing fulfillment on your own, something has to break.
I personally faced this challenge when scaling Growth Robot, so I come at this problem with first-hand experience. The typical stumbling block is that you’re the subject matter expert. So, how do you replicate yourself?
Well, I discovered a unique cloning technology… Nah, just kidding.
My business has moved from a sole consultancy to a loose collection of experts. I did this by finding others with great skills–which took some time–and adding them to the team. This is the same thing that other founders and consultants do as they scale their businesses over time—but having process and tech in place is essential to building a scalable business.
So, how do you do all this when you’re just starting out in a new business venture? The simplest way is by having a partner that knows how to help you scale and grow revenue efficiently.
That’s essentially why I started Growth Robot—to help other entrepreneurs scale their business and grow their revenue.
The reason for my bias toward Close as a startup CRM
With so many CRMs on the market, why do I have this bias toward Close?
A few short years ago, I was a Salesforce guy, through and through. I still believe it’s an amazing product and ecosystem. I performed various roles in the Salesforce ecosystem, including a technical consulting role to set up and customize Salesforce for different organizations.
One thing that I’ve always loved about Salesforce is the data model. They got it right for sales reps, managers, and eventually finance and other roles that rely on that one source of truth.
For me, having the right data model is a core feature of any CRM. And that’s also where my bias toward Close comes from.
I learned about Steli Efti at the beginnings of Close, and just respected the heck out of him. Although I doubted anything could rival Salesforce, I decided to keep an eye on what he was doing with Close.
Fast forward a few years, and I was working at a sales consulting firm that used Close. And I became an immediate fan.
Here’s what blew me away in Close:
Smart Views: This was very difficult (or nearly impossible) to set up in Salesforce (and I’ve tried). A sales rep’s cockpit should be a place where they can sit down, see what you need to do, and just do it. Close has set up an easy-to-create and fully customizable cockpit for sales reps, so all they have to do is their job.
A sales rep is like an actor on a movie set—you just show up and perform your job because everybody has their shit covered and you know exactly what to do. That’s what a good CRM does for your reps. All they have to do is perform their job and make money.
The data model: Again, my main gauge for the success of a CRM is how the data model is set up. Some CRMs have some of the right nomenclature, but they don’t have the data model.
In Close, the objects include the correct nomenclature—leads, opportunities, closed-won, etc.
But the key is that the data model is mapped out correctly. The first-class objects are right where they’re supposed to be. As a relational database, Close is set up correctly so that data import, extraction, and operating on the data within the database is much easier to do.
With this setup, you can get actionable information from the data without a lot of friction.
An optimized process + tech = revenue growth
If your startup or business is on the verge of growth, remember this formula:
People > Process > Technology
When you align these three aspects of your business in the right order, you’ll see revenue growth that’s scalable over time.
Want help scaling your business? Check out what Growth Robot can do for you.
Marc Belgrave is a growth advisor who equips hungry, data-driven entrepreneurs to scale to add 20k/month in new revenue. In 90 days or less. How? Sales process and automation.
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