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GREAT IDEAS: Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross {interview}

Sales strategy from a failed business owner to sales star at Salesforce.com.

From vodka to victory

His outbound sales process Cold Calling 2.0 at Salesforce.com helped double growth.

But amazingly, Aaron Ross joined Salesforce to learn sales, after his own company failed.

In his conversation with The Growth Faculty, the author of Predictable Revenue shares his founder failure story - and the sales system that makes all the difference.

And, in the GREAT EIGHT, how he dealt with a business partner split. 



Prior to [my business Lease Exchange] closing, I would literally at Friday evening go home and I'd drink vodka and play video games just to survive mentally and emotionally.

I had hired a Vice President of sales, and that VP had a team. But when sales weren't working, I, as CEO, didn't know what to do.
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I would encourage every C-level, every founder, to be involved in selling the first 10 or 20 customers.

If you're not in the trenches doing the selling it's too easy to make the wrong assumptions around how someone should sell.

After the company failed I got a job in sales at salesforce.com. There's no better place to learn about sales than selling at a company that does sales technology.

I began answering the phones and doing the sales.  I saw this core problem of companies and Salesforce.com not having the sales leads they needed to hit its growth goals.

Cold Calling 2.0 means you have processes and a system in place to generate new pipeline and leads predictably – that is, an organization knows how "X" effort will lead to "Y" results. 

Salespeople need to do fewer things better. Trying to get them to do lots of cold calling and prospecting is a distraction.

[Choose] a dedicated prospector, ideally a junior salesperson to do all outbound calling and emailing and social media to generate pre-qualified appointments for the salesperson.

One Sales Development Rep or SDR would support anywhere from one to three salespeople, maybe four.

There are four core roles:

•             You've got prospectors who prospect.
•             You've got inbound lead responders who handle any marketing generated leads.
•             You've got closers for new business and new customers.
•             You've got account management selling and cross selling to current customers.

It's possible to create a regular and predictable supply of qualified appointments for your salesperson or sales team.

The fastest growing companies in Silicon Valley do sales specialisation. At Salesforce.com when we split apart prospectors who prospected and salespeople [to close], pipeline revenue took off.

This idea of predictable lead generation or prospectors doesn't work if they're doing it part time. They need to do it full time or close enough to it.

If you're a CEO selling….the next hire should be a junior salesperson handling a lot of the lead gen, whether they're inbound leads or outbound prospecting.

You can't accomplish anything in life unless you know how to sell yourself, a product or an idea in some way. In fact, I think some of the best salespeople in the world have been Gandhi or Mother Teresa, Elon Musk.

Aaron’s GREAT EIGHT, 8 getting to know you questions we ask all our authors:

What’s a book you would recommend? Reboot by a guy named Jerry Colonna.

If you could co-author a book with anybody in the world, who might they be and what’s the title? Probably my wife Jessica Ross.  It wouldn’t be anything about hyper growth of our family because we do have 9 going on 11 kids!

What’s a great piece of advice you could share? It’s so important to let go of the expectations you can have.  In business we put these big goals out there. They’re completely meaningless except, hey, we’re just going to try for something. And when we get attached, we expect them to happen. We expect people to do things where they can’t. It just makes us upset and we interact poorly with our team, and it just doesn’t serve anyone.

What's been your lowest moment and how did you recover from it? [Before I split with my business partner] I remember what I did was I made a list of all the problems. If we split apart what would be all the downsides, the risks and the problems of that. I'd have to do more work or maybe be harder to do this than the other one. But then I also did another side around all the benefits. I wouldn't have to share the revenue and I could find a different partner, and so on. It really helped me flip my attitude around towards the opportunity….because aren't entrepreneurs, by our nature, looking for problems and we're trying to come up with a solution?

How do you relax? Six months ago my wife gave me a guitar, which this week and last week I hadn’t played it at all because my wife just went to Edinburgh for five weeks. We’re looking to move the whole family to Scotland….my life is insane.

What's a fun fact that's not widely known about you? I love riding motorcycles. I love shooting guns. I don't do them enough. I did the arts. I don't know. I did all the art in Predictable Revenue myself.

What’s the secret of success? Well, part of my reaction is I have no idea, but what I feel like works for me is in the past I do meditation.

What is your prediction for 2025?  There were 500 sales apps five years ago. Now there are 5,000 or so marketing apps. People will continue to be more overwhelmed. That’s  your customers as well as your own internal employees and salespeople.

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