Growth Hacks – Moving the Metric

Shortening the sales cycle and creating measurably aggressive growth can seem like a pipe dream in a world where nine-to-12-month sales cycles for enterprises are the norm. What if it didn’t have to be?

For TCV portfolio company Vectra AI, a leading creator of machine learning software that detects and protects against cyber attacks, that dream became a reality in less than a year. By implementing a mindset of continuous growth into its hiring process and carrying that same mindset through its approach to sales and KPIs, Vectra saw more than 50% of its revenue come from recent hires in just six months.

In this episode of Growth Hacks, Kunal and Katja talk to Marty Sanders, head of American Sales at Vectra AI, about how he implemented a mindset of continuous growth into the sales team at Vectra, how it helped shorten the sales cycle, and why he treats recruiting as rigorously as he does multi-digit dealmaking.

Key Takeaways

  • Make continuous growth an organizational mindset. For Vectra’s sales team, continuous growth isn’t just a mission statement, it’s a top-to-bottom mindset. Since Marty joined Vectra last year, the team has refined its hiring process to hire sales leaders who prioritize ongoing growth, focused on shortening sales cycles and improving processes, and created internal benchmarks that reflect the importance of ongoing improvement, rather than just sales notched.
  • Make shortening the sales cycle an obsession, not a nice to have. Continuous improvement is something Vectra hires for and instills into new team members once they come on board. It’s also the first step Marty took to shorten Vectra’s traditional nine-to-12-month sales cycle. New candidates shared his belief that sales cycles could take place over 90 days and worked together to articulate Vectra’s value proposition in under a minute and a half. Additionally, Marty created a “culture of compression,” treating every Friday like a month end, every month end like a weekend, and every quarter like a year closing. The success of the approach at Vectra has been immediate. Over the last two quarters, sales have increased with more than 50% of Vectra’s revenue being earned by salespeople hired in the last six months.
  • Create the right scorecard to measure success; then reward it. It’s tempting to bring on board the flashy hire with the large Rolodex; but how do you ensure that their work is actually showing results? That’s why Marty creates scorecards to measure success, so that both he and his sales team are aligned on verifiable outcomes that build Vectra’s pipeline. Because the KPIs are wide ranging, from identifying stakeholders and setting meetings, to modeling TCOs and identifying organizational pain points, Vectra ties draw to those KPIs. Doing so incentives its sales team and sets clear metrics for success.
  • No goose eggs, ever. Hiring for growth is only one piece of the puzzle. Vectra takes that step further, by making sure that its salespeople never put a zero in their commit. That can give someone a subconscious right to fail, says Marty. By not allowing for a zero forecast, growth becomes the automatic mindset. Because this pace can be grueling for even the best salespeople, Vectra is aggressive about recognition, and maintaining open communication with its salespeople to ensure the pace is right.
  • Treat recruiting like you would treat a multimillion-dollar deal. At Vectra, hiring is treated as mission critical as a seven-figure deal. It’s why Marty specifically incorporates a review of recruitment activities into the business reviews he does with his managers. Vectra also leverages technology and science by using a personality DNA test with every candidate, that assesses how well a candidate might fit into Vectra’s continuous improvement mindset. If a candidate doesn’t pass the test, the company doesn’t move forward.

To learn more, tune into Growth Hacks: Turning a Continuous Improvement Mindset Into Successful KPIs.

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