A lot of leaders – revenue leaders, entrepreneurs, sales leaders, etc. – buy new systems and then come up with a go-to-market motion based on those new tools. They expect the technology to be the answer to their growth, and they expect it to work on its own.
But the bottom line – something I’ve noticed in my 20+ years, both as an individual contributor and also as a revenue/GTM leader perspective – is this is the wrong order of operation.
It’s understandable that it’s happening, because we get excited about the potential of the new technologies and tools that are becoming available every day.
But it’s simply not the optimal order of operation. Here’s the framework I’ve come up with to think about the best way to grow.
Let’s start with people – this is always where you should begin.
But it’s not a natural place for most leaders in our tech world to start. We tend to be owned and operated by totally brilliant technologists who are disconnected from the human component of the business, like engineers. (If you do find an engineer who has great people skills and empathy and relationships, that’s a unicorn.)
Many leaders want to use tech to automate the human out. And I understand where they’re coming from. But right now in 2022, humans are still involved in operating businesses.
So the starting element of the framework is people – you gotta find the right people, train them, and enable them to do their best work.
That begins with sourcing them, and not just from a tactical perspective but also from a cultural perspective. That cultural element is not usually what you can see on a Linkedin profile or resume. You need to start to dig in and develop an ideal candidate profile when you’re sourcing to build this GTM team.
A great example is Jamie Neubeck at Reprise. She’s a BDR who is just incredible. But she’s not a traditional candidate: she hasn’t been in tech before, and she’s older than a typical BDR. And she’s absolutely crushing it – she’s our #1 BDR. A lot of her success is because she’s passionate, she’s excited, and she has a great attitude she brings to work every day. You can’t read that on a resume.
After you’ve sourced the right folks, the next step is onboarding them properly. Especially in high-growth startups, we too often don’t have an onboarding process or it’s done by someone who is not involved in the department and that’s a fatal mistake as well as a common one.
We’re running fast, I get it. But you as a leader cannot be separated from onboarding, even though it’s usually not intentional when it happens. In the best organizations I ever worked for, the leader is absolutely involved in that onboarding process.
Another piece of the puzzle is conducting ongoing training. It’s beyond just the tactical stuff – it’s about the ongoing inspiring and motivating of your people. We’re human beings (again!) with dreams and aspirations and we need those to be fueled over time. And it’s shocking that after all the info we have about what motivates and inspires people, this piece falls through the cracks again and again.
Don’t forget about product knowledge and training. You gotta have it, and it has to be in-depth and from the perspective of your leader and organization. And your functional leader should be involved for a long time. But once you grow to like a 100 person marketing team, it gets tougher of course.
A final part of the people element is properly training people on how to use their tech and tools. It’s not just setting it up and hoping they can use it with minimal resources – you need to get the people component nailed too, and it takes time and investment.
The next part of the framework is process.
Process is sitting down as a leadership team and coming up with an initial strategy to grow. It’s a large experiment that continues to evolve over time. It’s important to sit down, put it together, and have an initial hypothesis – this is where your process comes from.
Then run it by your team (even the junior ones, get your ego out of here!) and get their feedback. You need to empower people, this is not the old school way of doing business that didn’t work anyways. Make them feel they have ownership over the strategy and you’ll get everyone closer to your goals.
Last but absolutely not least, we have technology. A good example is buying a CRM, or sales outreach tools like Salesloft, and expecting the tool to work its magic all by itself. That’s just not the best way to go.
A successful approach to technology in this framework is not the training of the tech users like earlier, but in taking everything we just did in the people and process stages and enabling the tech to be able to execute that. Automate the places that need it, and then configure/implement the tech to enable the scenario.
All Three Elements in Balance
This is the framework – with technology being the last area of focus. All are equally important and a priority. Technology allows us to scale and deploy areas so that we have efficiency we never had before, and that’s amazing.
But the key to this framework is it’s not the first thing we do. You back into it based on your people and your process, instead of letting a tool drive your whole GTM motion.
Then rinse and repeat, iterate over time, and it’s all a moving motion. That’s how you get a strong foundation for really great growth.