We all know a unicorn company — one with super-fast growth and a billion-dollar valuation.
What makes these particular companies stand out? Are there common strategies that you can incorporate into your own business for faster-paced growth?
In this episode, we speak with Ryan Gibson, Manager of Sales Development at Outreach.io, Jason Prindle, Director of Inside Sales and Global Sales Development at BigID, and Taylor Jones, Business Development Manager at Salesforce, about unicorn companies and how they perform better than others.
Join us as we discuss:
- What each brings to the discussion & how they got hired at their unicorn
- How to deal w/ hiring too many too fast
- Deciding between an external top performer or internal hire
- Balancing the need for top tier talent w/ diversity & inclusive initiatives
- The process for ramping up sales reps
- Advice for those getting into leadership roles
Let’s dive deeper into the best practices of super-mega-growth orgs with these three vibrant young professionals.
Taylor is a high-energy powerhouse who’s an adjunct professor, consultant, and active volunteer — when she’s not busy being one of the most promising sales leaders in North America.
She worked her way through the ranks while earning her global MBA. She never thought she’d leave the startup world for one of the biggest employers in Canada.
Jason’s had a sales mindset since grade school. He rapidly progressed from being a top seller to being a team leader, and now he’s building totally unique sales development cohorts from the ground up.
Before becoming a founding member of Sales Hacker, Jason started his career as a technical support specialist.
“We know what it’s like,” he says, “as long as we remember that every day, it makes us better at understanding the people that we’re working with and building out our processes.”
A law student who was moonlighting as a shoe salesman at Nordstrom, Ryan decided to reach out to his network from the University of Washington for something different.
He landed at a small but mighty startup and proceeded to find tremendous success as a senior account exec at Outreach.
Taking the leap
Jason was wooed by BigID after he did some tinkering with his personal brand on LinkedIn. He yearned to work in a hypergrowth environment — after doing some research, he realized it was a perfect match.
Living in Seattle, Ryan was quite familiar with the powerful sales engagement platform and delighted to meet with Outreach’s leadership, even though he wasn’t currently seeking a position.
They wouldn’t take no for an answer. To meet lofty goals, their top-tier internal recruiting team is consistently sourcing the best possible talent.
When a company’s in exponential growth mode, over-hiring can happen. Taylor states that it’s crucial to have a contingency plan in place.
You’ve also got to find alignment with your leadership team. While it’s true that you wear 25 hats when you work at a startup, all of you have to be on the same page when it comes to growth.
With the current Great Resignation in progress, there’s also a fear that you might not have enough manpower when you really need it.
Promoting from within helps ensure that you’re not wasting your own resources.
However, it’s a definite investment of time and money, especially to bring an SDR up to enterprise level, according to Jason.
Creating a community
Lots of brands have gone fully remote or at least hybrid. It’s vital to have a culture of communication that makes everyone feel welcome whether they’re at home or on-prem.
Taylor relies on mentorship to develop her team. She’s careful that they don’t become overwhelmed, and given all the tools they need to succeed.
Jason’s an experienced remote worker, building community through a bespoke training program with a supportive atmosphere.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion
One particular issue that unicorns face is a shortage of diverse candidates. The tech industry desperately needs more talent from underrepresented groups to truly grow.
Taylor is passionate about diversity initiatives at Salesforce. She believes that lived experiences, unique backgrounds, and coachability are keys to finding just the right candidate.
You’re searching for “diamonds in the rough,” agrees Jason. That’s how you can build an inclusive team organically.
At Outreach, DEI initiatives come from the top down. They’re investing in programs to snag top grads from HBCUs who are hungry to start in the tech industry.
What words of wisdom would our guests give their younger selves?
Ryan thinks it’s important to remember how hard your SDRs work and what it’s like to be in the trenches.
You have to have the patience to teach, says Jason, instead of immediately jumping in and trying to fix everything.
Crowdsourcing is Taylor’s approach to making changes. Getting input from her staff is much more effective than just arranging things her way.
Don’t forget that you serve the team.
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