8 tips to scale sales from 0 to 10M in ARR with Jon Anguelov, co-founder of Aircall

Photo credits: Startup Begins

Last week at STATION F we hosted a workshop with Jonathan Anguelov, cofounder & COO at Aircall, to talk about his favorite topic: SALES. Needless to say that our dear residents were excited about this opportunity to have him share his experience with them, and get a few tips and best practices that have worked for Aircall: Jon is one of the masterminds behind Aircall’s crazy growth!

Aircall is a cloud-based phone solution for corporations, which enables you to easily create your call center in just a few minutes. They have raised a total of $11M with Balderton Capital and other investors. Aircall is an eFounders and 500 Startup San Francisco alumni.

Some tips and advice Jonathan shared with us…

The 3 most common mistakes you see in Sales

Mistake #1: “Do things that don’t scale”: it’s a very common advice you’ll hear when you start your company. When you start your business you have a billion things to get done. You need to focus on the things that help you scale your business. Really, focus.

Mistake #2: “Keep talent over process”: every entrepreneur has talent. You would not have been selected to STATION F Founders Program if this was not the case. Even if talent is necessary, it’s process that gets efficiently the most from your talent.

Mistake #3: “Value intuition over metrics”: you have an idea, and you often immediately imagine and suppose what clients and users need. This intuition is biased by our own experience and taste and can’t be reliable. Only trust metrics, not intuition.

Here come Jon’s top 8 tips to grow sales:

#1: Adapt your sales process to the maturity of your startup.

Aircall is a very sales oriented startups: a very large majority of the team is dedicated to sales, over marketing. Crazy thing, they actually hired a marketing team only recently.

“In our case, it’s probably not the best thing to have waited that long to hire a marketing team”, says Jonathan.

Stage 1: Before you raise your first million, you start with manual prospection, you take time with a few clients. It’s like your sales “beta test”.

Stage 2: The more you grow you have a more tailored-made pitch, you take more time in intensive prospection, and finally hire your first talented sales guys.

Stage 3: When you grow more, maybe after you raise a million dollars or so, you have more time to implement marketing automation, sales scripts, define more segmentation and automated nurturing to adapt the speech even more to the person you’re talking to.

#2: Define a clear sales process from the start.

“A/B testing your team will help you.” says Jon.

At $100K of revenue you can hire two sales people. Having the two do the same kind of job will help you prove to investors that you can scale your sales team. Focus on improving your sales process to leverage investors at the right time, and then hire the best profiles to scale efficiently, and reliably.

#3: Start cold selling from day one.

Many entrepreneurs spend a lot of time just thinking about the idea, how they want to implement it, rather than getting out of the office and selling their product, tells Jon. It’s crucial to start showing your added value from the very first day. Don’t know where to start? Follow this guide to cold calling written by the Aircall’s team.

#4: Structure your sales team in order to forecast your sales

Revenues need to be predictable. If you give a proper structure to your sales team, you’re able to establish reliable processes, which allows you to have fairly reliable sales predictions. Looking at your sales pipeline you should be able to tell what deal you will close, and when you will close it.

#5: If you’re convinced this prospect should be interested in your product’s value, don’t give up.

“Aircall’s sales force comes from two things: detecting the right prospect, and never letting him go!” reveals Jon

If as a startup founder you’re convinced that your product would be relevant for your prospect, you’re probably right. Almost harass him, if you have a real value for him he’ll end up listening. A personal tip: tell him his competitor uses your solution. It will at least get him to listen to you. If you truly have a value for him, the hardest part of the job is already done.

If you don’t know who is the right guy to talk to in your prospect company, always send your email to at least three relevant persons in this company, you can never be sure who the right person truly is.

#6: Your first priority is always your pipeline.

Aircall is a typical product where 90% of the sales objective comes from new sales: that’s why the pipeline is so crucial.

“Focus first on outbound sales. They will become inbound sales over time. And of course revenue per account should always raise no matter what.” recommends Jon.

#7: Don’t underestimate the interns.

If you train them well, you’ll hire them. I’m amazed how many great and smart people there are in the world, says Jonathan.

Photo credits: Aircall

#8: Fake it until you become it.

Always try to look big and local.

“When I call my Brazilian clients with a Portuguese-speaking sales guy, with our Brazilian phone number, I can tell you they’re convinced that I’m in Brazil!” recalls Jon.

Looking big and local will help you grow confidence with your prospects and clients. Thankfully Aircall lets you buy phone numbers locally all around the world :) As a matter of fact, one of Aircall’s clients shared his experience in this blogpost about their hack to look bigger thanks to a phone number!

Check out the slides from Aircall’s workshop on Sales at STATION F: