How to scale your sales team from 5 to 50? — by Ryan Burke, SVP Sales at InVision

[Part 2] Ryan Burke, SVP at InVision — Scale your sales team from 1 to 50 — B2B Rocks 2018

This article is part of a series of 3 articles about building your sales team, based on Ryan Burke’s keynote at the leading European conference for B2B & SaaS startups, B2B Rocks.

Before reading this article, make sure to read stage #1 about your “First Five”:

“If we think now about the foundation: you’ve got some level of a customer journey, you’ve got a sales motion. So now you’re starting to build for stage two, which is the foundation.

Hire operation early on

Hire operations a lot earlier than you think. This is a mistake that I made early on. I had a five-person team and I was like I’m not gonna hire sales ops yet. Then I had 15 people and it was too late. You need to hire operations earlier than you think. The data is the lifeblood of how you’re gonna build your business. Over-invest and prioritize operations earlier than you think.

Don’t specialize too early

You’ll have time as you scale. You gonna see specialization across the funnel, it’s gonna happen but don’t do it too early. Too often people make the mistakes and say “hey BDR’s are gonna do all the prospecting”. He’s not gonna prospect anymore, he should be prospecting 20% of the time, no matter what role they’re in. They need to be out there talking to the marketplace and having those customer touch points.

You don’t want your customers early on talking to an SDR then a BDR then an AE, then a CSM. You need to make sure that you’re just focusing on having the right people talking to the market and resisting that temptation to specialize too early because it will happen.

Build the first layer of management with coaches

Then you’re gonna build the first management layer. You’ve got the foundation, you’re gonna build a land management layer. The important thing: don’t hire managers, you want coaches. Find people that are good coaches. You need to have people that are going to focus on making people better. I find people that maybe, in their past lives, they taught or they teach at accelerators and they’re really interested in helping people get better at specific things.

Don’t focus on results (yet)

And still, you shouldn’t even be focusing on the results. At this stage, the behaviors and activities are so much more important. You should be breaking apart like a salespersons quota or breaking apart a deal and identifying what those leading indicators are leading up to. Chunk up those specific steps: How many leads? How many meetings? How often you have to get in front of folks? How many touch points were there? How many opportunities do you need to create? Break those apart. That’s what you need your man and your coaches to focus on. That’s what you should be measuring people on, not about the results. People are gonna miss numbers early on. That’s okay! If they’re doing the right things, if they’re doing the right activities and behaviors, that’s gonna help you build that foundational team.

As always throughout this entire process just think about the relentless focus on the customer. If you want to talk about those metrics, you’ve got a measure folks specifically on how often they’re talking to customers. There is nothing more important especially early on: getting in front of them, shaking hands, talking to them.

Hire your persona

Hire one! Early on, our target persona was the designer. A designer is a finicky persona. They don’t want to be sold, they don’t talk to salespeople. So, I was gonna go out and hire a sales engineer. And instead, I hired a designer. A designer who sat on our sales team. He would sit in on calls, he would talk to the designers we were talking to, added some credibility, told us about the nuances the day-to-day of a designer’s life. Whoever your target persona is, hire them. Put them on your sales team. That’s gonna help understand how you go out and cater to those customers.

Deliver Value

You need to be talking to those customers about more than your product. At this stage, you need to be adding value at every step beyond your software.

We made a movie, a little crazy when my CEO first told me we’re making a movie. But we made a feature-length documentary on the power of design to disrupt industries. We made this movie and it was such an incredible touch point for our sales folks to be able to go out and have a conversation engage with senior folks about some value that we were delivering without selling our product. We did screenings. “You want to see your movie? Let’s do a screening at your headquarters”. “Hey let’s get a group at a local accelerator and do a screening”, offering something back to that community. We’ve done over 800 screenings across the world now. Aa the Headquarters of Google, Uber, Salesforce, IBM all over the place. And it’s all about being able to offer that value.

Maybe you can’t make a movie. There are still so many other things that you can be doing at this stage to build that foundation. Whether it’s workshops, drinks, dinners, etc. Just get in front of your customers. Just go out there and add value to them beyond just what your software it delivers.

Build your brand

It’s about building your brand. Do you want to drive leads early in the process? A brand is how you get inbound. It’s all about the brand. You need salespeople at this stage that can represent that brand. Think about when you’re hiring folks: are they the people that you would want talking to Google if that came in as an inbound lead? Are they people, that if you’re running an event that you would want out there representing your brand? Are they people, that you know when support questions come up, are they gonna do the right thing for your customers? It’s all about them representing the brand and getting in front of those customers talking to them on a personal level.

Allow people to know each other

Another program that we do at InVision is called “Delicious empathy”. Anybody at InVision is allowed to take out somebody to dinner product designer developer executive and expense it just get to know that person. Talk to them about their day-to-day. The one rule is you’re not allowed to talk about InVision.”

Keep in mind

  • Relentless focus on customers
  • Hire coaches, not managers
  • Add value beyond your product
  • Focus on behavior

Now you talk about stage 3, which the future: How to scale your Sales Team above 50?


This talk was given at B2B Rocks, the leading European conference for B2B startups. The event is owned and organized by Axeleo.

Know more: http://b2brocks.co/paris/