⚡️ Today’s level up ⚡️
Many sellers I work with have or are making the transition from a startup to a larger, public organization. That brings on a whole set of opportunities and challenges.
Today’s edition focuses on a powerful system you can implement when this happens to you to ensure you set yourself up for both short-term and long-term success in the new role.
Read time: <9 minutes
Matt just had his best year of his career
Last year, I had my first strategy session with Matt, an Enterprise AE, who at the time was selling into enterprise accounts for a mature global startup in the digital CX space.
When he joined the company a little over 4 years ago, they were just 50 employees and $2M in annual revenue, and today, they are about a $55M a year business. He’s seen a lot. In Q3 2022, he closed his largest 7-figure SaaS transformation deal of his career.
We caught up yesterday on another strategy session, and I learned he’s now moving on to a large public company with $4.5B in annual revenue and 20K+ employees (his dream company). That’s a big leap, and one that can bring on a lot of imposter syndrome.
Here’s the checklist and a powerful system we talked through that got him excited for excelling in the new role.
First, know success is in your DNA
Before we get to the checklist, it’s important to take a step back and realize why you were chosen to make this monumental leap.
For Matt, the VP who hired him told him directly – “You are unique and have a distinct point of view. Your experience at a startup is an advantage.” Another person he interviewed with said, “when more established sellers come from Salesforce, they all sound and say the same thing (no offense SFDC).”
Matt leaning into his unique qualities will be an asset, not a liability.
I experienced this myself when I left Revel (a late stage startup with ~300 employees) to join LivePerson (a 25+ year old public company with quadruple the amount of employees). I was accustomed to moving fast, but I also knew what it took to work with large partners, like Apple and IBM, and assemble complex contracts.
Know that’s a sweet spot that a lot of VP of sales are looking for today. Embrace it, don’t hide from it.
The startup → public company strategic seller checklist
Ok, now, here’s what we talked through. This was also very similar to the exact process I undertook before my strategic account selling role – and exactly what I would do today if I were an active seller.
1. Embrace long-term thinking with short-term impact.
Matt is now at his dream company and is thinking 5 years out.
Obviously he’s not blind to market conditions that are out of his control, but he’s excited about what he can control and that’s what is key.
A good mindset shift is to think of yourself as a startup and your employer as a VC. This means, as much as you can be strategic, focused, and lay the groundwork upfront – you don’t know what you don’t know.
You’ll want to maintain a harmony of discipline + flexibility + curiosity so you can manage your expectations properly to hit the ground running, while also being open to receiving things as they come.
2. Study the largest customers.
The absolute best thing I did when I made the switch from the startup to a public company was reading about the top, strategic customer the company landed before I joined.
And not just a quick skim of the success story on the website, I’m talking a full on devouring of everything I could get my hands on (ask, and they will share). This informed a lot of my early thinking on why this one particular customer was so large and provided a blueprint for similar executives to follow.
That blueprint was the foundation for delivering a distinct point of view in every deal I pursued.
Remember: Voracious studying now leads to more automatic selling later.
3. Begin account planning and research.
On Matt’s new account list, he has a very large legacy company he wants to target, but he’s accustomed to selling to digital-first companies at his old startup.
We agreed that delivering digital-first insights to a legacy company is what those executives need. However, the executives need to be responsive to the point of view, so we agreed that a good rule of thumb is to look for executives in his accounts with a shorter tenure.
That’s because an executive with 10 – 15 years tenure is likely comfortable with the status quo and less likely to want to enact disruptive change. However, an exec that has been brought in less than 2 years ago, is more likely to be there to enact change and more willing to receive compelling insights and ideas.
I gave him the Simple Strategic Selling System that he’ll start using immediately to move faster and smarter than his peers.
4. Be proactive about establishing good strategic internal relationships.
As you graduate to selling for a public company or into strategic accounts, you need to get good with transitioning from a seller who’s accustomed to running a complete sales cycle with little help to being able to assemble a small army on each new deal you pursue.
Start immediately by being proactive in understanding who the key assets will be that you’ll need to help you win – from solutions, legal, security, and customer success. Shake tons of hands, introduce yourself, and ask a lot of questions during your onboarding week.
You’ll want to know who the key “moneymakers” are – the strategic resources that help sellers make millions inside the org.
Tip: Start with the author of the company’s Maturity Model, and ask these questions.
5. Be aware of big company internal processes.
The biggest thing you’ll have to get used to at a public company are all of the internal processes.
If you thought it was bad at your startup, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
This is where establishing a strong relationship with your manager and having a clear idea of what are the:
– Need to know or do’s
– Nice to know or do’s
– Avoid at all costs
6. Map out your schedule in thirds.
It’s going to be impossible to own your schedule completely when you start, but you can at least have an idea of what ideal looks like, and then adjust along the way as you get involved with deals.
The thirds you should think about are (not necessarily equal, but in this priority order):
– Revenue generating activities – Moving the needle on your account list
– Product learning – Become an expert, not a product expert, but a business operator using your products expert (think more like an executive, like delivering outcomes, not so much an end user, like features and functions)
– Operations – Learn the key people to know, internal processes, how to navigate the org, company principles, etc.
Plan like a pro – Use The Project Clarity Map
The Project Clarity Map is the work of Mike Williams, and it acts like a Swiss Army Knife for organizing your work and life, and it’s a huge career enhancer.
It has a unique diamond shape with 2 distinctive parts:
1. Divergent thinking: Define the project’s purpose, capture the vision of success, and make space to generate ideas.
2. Convergent thinking: Organize ideas into a plan, review your plan against the stated purpose and vision of success, and define one next action that will move the plan forward.
You can use The Project Clarity Map as a navigation system for finding success in your new role.
Let’s summarize each part:
Purpose = Your project’s North Star. The project name clarifies the endpoint/goal and defines why you want to go on this journey. Writing your purpose statement will have a powerful clarifying effect.
→ It has 2 parts: Contribution + Impact
– Project: Complete an exhaustive study of company’s largest customer
– Purpose: To increase my business savviness and identify a repeatable blueprint that will be valuable to every executive I encounter with each of my accounts
Vision = What’s your vision of wild success for the project?
Work backwards to when the project is over and imagine it’s a wild success!
– How do you feel?
– What did you learn?
– What problem did you solve?
Your answers can be a few small bullets or full-blown paragraphs – up to you.
The point is your brain loves rich imagery, so you want to take advantage of that here to cement what success looks like for this project (by the way, you can do this for everything in your work and life, like each account win on your list).
Ideation = Revving up your imagination engine.
This is about generating as many ideas as you can so you can turn your purpose and vision into reality.
A few tips:
– Get ideas out of your head quickly. Quantity > Quality.
– No bad idea – it’s about opening up your creative flow.
– Use whatever works for you – pen and paper, sticky notes, mind map, an app.
Once you’ve reached a tension point, that’s a signal you’ve reached the outer edge of divergent thinking – that’s when it’s time to stop generating ideas and start organizing them.
Organization = Planning like a pro.
Your projects will range from simple to complex.
An easy way to build momentum with your projects is to simply define the project name and have a current next action. For example, Project: ACME account plan completed, Next Action: Fill out The Simple Strategic Sales System account tab
Review = Check up on your current status.
Build these in on a micro, meso, and macro basis:
– Micro: Quick snapshot as a part of your Daily Review Routine
– Meso: Go deeper weekly and monthly or quarterly
– Macro: Deepest dives semi-annually and annually
One Next Action = The one thing that needs to happen next.
Instead of focusing everything for that project, all you need to do is identify the next action.
2 simple questions to ask:
– What’s the next action?
– Who owns it?
If you want more, snag a copy of Doing to Done.
Going through this level of work before you start at the new company will put you heads and shoulders above your peers and elevate your confidence to new heights – goodbye imposter syndrome!
Yesterday was the 1 year anniversary for my one-person business. I am so excited to share a lot of amazing things I have on the roadmap.
I can’t wait for you to see them – so stick around!
In the meantime, I will be selecting 3 ideal candidates and providing 6 FREE one hour coaching sessions ($6,000 value each). The caveat is you need to be a 7 Figure Seller OS student.
>> APPLY HERE <<
I will be picking the winners next week and announcing them in next Wednesday’s edition.
That’s a wrap – see you next time!
When you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:
1 | Unlock the 7 Figure Seller OS
This combines the 7 Steps to 7 Figures system along with a lifetime membership to our Make More Hustle Less Club where we put the system in action as a community (big changes coming and prices will increase very soon!).
2 | Book a 1:1 coaching session right now
You can book a 60 minute strategy session with me here.
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