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Beyond the Pitch

Leveraging Experts: Sales Training is Different Than Sales Doing

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Rev1’s goal is to help entrepreneurs build successful companies. When we find something that works, we leverage it. That’s the story of First Connect.

Connecting Startups to Corporate Expertise

When Rev1 started First Connect in 2015, we began with panels of CIOs who helped review companies, giving entrepreneurs feedback that contributed to market and product validation.

That process led to us leveraging the Backyard Effect, helping connect Concept Stage portfolio companies to our strategic partners for early product review. We further applied First Connect and the Backyard Effect to help Seed Stage companies gain access to C-level decision-makers.

Our “ask” for these executives was to be receptive to taking first meetings and to potentially being first customers of Rev1 clients. Those connections resulted in early customer relationships for startups such as Clarivoy and Simple-Fill.

We generated about 250 prospects in 2016 who took about 170 first meetings with entrepreneurs. The results: nearly 80 qualified sales situations, with more than 20 new engagements that generated about $1.5MM in revenue for Rev1 portfolio businesses.

Growth Multiplier Network Leverages the Backyard Effect in a New Way

“Many entrepreneurs come to sales with the pre-conceived idea that sales people are different people than they are,” says James Rores, founder, CEO, and of The Floriss Group and an active participant in the First Connect Network.

“They think that sales people have this amazing ability to be manipulative and persuasive in a believable way, that they kind of hypnotize clients into doing what they say,” James says.

Entrepreneurs who are limited by this stereotypical view of sales and selling may have a great product idea and execution. But they are missing a significant portion of the total skill set required to be a successful entrepreneur. They won’t know how to hire or manage a great sales person. They won’t know how to develop sales people with potential into top producers. They will use up precious time and capital without getting revenue or signing up customers.

In mid-2016, we introduced the Growth Multiplier Network to help our portfolio companies overcome this challenge. Growth Multiplier is all about sales and marketing and gives entrepreneurs the tools to sell the way people buy.

It’s based on the concept of servant leadership—helping others first. This idea, which has been around for at least 2000 years, was translated into business application in the eighties by Robert K Greenleaf in The Servant as Leader and more recently in The Culture Engine.

Growth Multipliers earn the right to lead buyers to successful buying decisions by building trust and establishing themselves as the buyer’s early emotional favorite. Growth Multipliers differentiate themselves and their companies from competitors, well beyond the capabilities of the products and services they bring to the market.

There’s a certain type of person who gravitates toward this approach—generally, it’s entrepreneurs from the startups who are doing the best. For those entrepreneurs, the Growth Multiplier is a natural extension of the Backyard Effect.

Here’s how Growth Multiplier works.

Every month, James and I host a Growth Multiplier working session with as many of our engaged portfolio companies as choose to come.

Here’s what happens.

  • Entrepreneurs connect with other entrepreneurs – Our portfolio companies understand connections. They’ve all engaged experts and mentors through First Connect. They also understand first-hand that It can be solitary, lonely, and certainly stressful, being an entrepreneur. Friends and family can be supportive. Mentors can help make connections and share great advice. But at the end of the day, no one fully understands the challenges of being an entrepreneur unless they’ve been an entrepreneur, too.
  • Entrepreneurs help other entrepreneurs – The Growth Multiplier is so much more than networking. Entrepreneurs bring their sales and marketing problems here. We set up the topic (which they’ve chosen the month before) and kick things off with a couple of slides. Then it’s all about the group. For the next hour-and-a-half, they talk about how they can help each other
  • Entrepreneurs leverage Growth Multiplier sessions to get specific help with the process of sales – It boggles my mind how many entrepreneurs think about investment first and customers second. That’s not the case with the entrepreneurs who participate in Growth Multiplier. They understand that without customers, no amount of investment will be enough to get a company off the ground.

There are all kinds of sales training organizations out there, and we’ve tried some with our portfolio companies, but sales training is different than sales doing. The Growth Multiplier group decided to role-play a mock sales call. Shaun Young, CEO of Millenefits played the role of his client—he created a complete customer persona, and James Rores played Shaun. The group dissected the call, talked about what went right, what went wrong, and how things could have been done differently. It went so well, the others said, “I want a turn,” so we’re going to keep at it and add video.

Now that we have the Backyard Effect and the Growth Multiplier Network engines going, what’s our next leverage point?

Experimenting with Customer Acquisition Services

We want to help our portfolio companies enter the national market in a larger way. It’s a natural extension of the market validation they are doing with early customers in the region.

They’ve validated products, proved the market and prototypes, and built referenceable customers. The next step is to test scalability by undertaking national lead generation.

We are expanding our Expert Services to include customer acquisition. We’ve signed on to two pilots with firms that help companies tackle national lead generation and channel distribution strategies in two different ways. We’re at the threshold of this experiment and at the forefront of making national lead generation a systematic scalable service that Rev1 delivers to entrepreneurs.

 

Contact Rev1 to learn more about the Growth Multiplier Network and how we can help you build your business by building your customer base.

 

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