How to Excel in Sales in an Uncertain Economy With Paul Griffin

Paul Griffin 11:55

Yeah, so the goal? Well, when we started out, we kind of did some, but sales marketing services for you know, startups. And then the goal here was really to how do we productize what our offering is, so we can get a little bit more buttoned down on the operation side of things and scale a little bit better. So we found that, you know, the prospecting as a service kind of offering was a really strong way of productizing what our service was, and then charging just a straight subscription fee for that model. Similar to how SAAS works. We pulled a lot of our knowledge from the world we were working in, and sold it as a subscription model, but a prospecting package into a product service offering.

John Corcoran 12:41

And did you find it was easier because the world of SAS was used to that, that it was easier to sell that in into that world?

Paul Griffin 12:50

Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah. And I think, yeah, at the time, they were all kind of worried about how they were going to grow without events. So a lot of the business that we had at the beginning was filling that huge gap in people’s business plan where they normally would have filled new opportunities with armored services and events and conferences, trade shows. Yeah, exactly. So yeah, our initial our initial customers, that’s what we did. We were filling that gap for them. Yeah,

John Corcoran 13:20

yeah. So I can see the opportunity. And it makes sense. I’m wondering what drew you personally to the world of outbound sales? Because I know it’s hard. And it’s not easy to pick up the phone? And as is, especially gear, your whole business around that and do that as a service for clients? Was there something that was or something, you know, for you personally? Why you were drawn to that? Or was it purely an opportunity?

Paul Griffin 13:50

Yeah, I think a little bit of both. I think at the outset, you know, I’ll be I’d always done cold calling for earlier businesses or, you know, trying to open up opportunities I worked in, I worked in pharma for a bit, trying to help launch new products. So I was doing cold calls just to assess at the market on what, you know, doctors with, you know, want to launch or want to use for their patients. So I wasn’t new to cold calling by any means. But the thing that really drew me to sales, and I think the thing that I still love about it is it’s just it’s so tangible. The harder you work, the more you put in, the more activity you do, the more your results are going to be. It’s it’s really that linear. I mean, obviously, there’s some finesse along the way in some learnings that you get, and you get better and better over time. But I think that’s what I love the most about it. It’s one of those things that the more work you can put into it, the more you tangibly see come back, better results, more money that comes in, and that’s what I’ve always loved about it. And it’s one of those things too, that from a career perspective. You can bring anybody really off the street and give them the tools To be successful in sales, and if they’ve got the right attitude, that’s all they really need.

John Corcoran 15:06

How do you assess for for that, Brad?

Paul Griffin 15:10

Yeah, that’s a great question. Within our interview process, we have personality testing, aptitude testing, and then we’ve got some specific interview questions that we asked around just their motivations. Try to understand what their profiles a person looks like, you know, how motivated they are just in their general life and what they’re looking for. And then trying to understand what their motivations are, because that’s an important as part of their comp package as part of the the things that we offer as an organization. It’s all kind of built into it.

John Corcoran 15:38

Yeah. And, you know, you mentioned that you came from working-class family. Sounds like if you wanted to have some extra money to buy something, you had to earn it yourself, is that do you find yourself being drawn to that similar kind of personality profiles, that the kind of person you’re looking for is motivated in that way?

Paul Griffin 16:00

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, we we find probably our best salespeople are from, you know, a similar path, you know, forged by themselves, well, not by themselves, but for themselves kind of thing. We tend to find that that type of profile works really well in sales, because it’s like I said, you know, the harder you work, the more you get out, and, and that tends to be really motivating for people, especially, you know, 22 year old, fresh out of school, looking to build their career, you know, doesn’t know a lot of things. Sales is one of those things that’s, you know, repeatable learnable. And, you know, if I just work harder and harder at it, I’m gonna get more and more out of.

John Corcoran 16:36

Yeah, yeah, I know, I personally have learned a lot from reading different books, listening to different podcasts, interviews of different experts, and sales process and everything. And I imagined a training program for you, for your team could be years long. What does it look like when you train a new person?

Paul Griffin 16:56

Yeah, so we’ve got, we’ve got a training program internally, that we developed kind of over the, over the number of years that we’ve been in business, it’s, you know, a mixture of on the job and in a classroom, but we get them, you know, set up for success, you know, and it’s kind of its stage, depending on where you’re at, in the organization. So we’d like to break things up, you know, so you’re not, you know, thrown into everything all at once, and everything sales on day one, you know, we train mostly on cold calling, and, you know, email copy at the beginning. And then they would, you know, go in market and learn what it’s actually like to talk to real people and try to sell real people. And then from there, we start to build their skills on, you know, what, you know, sequencing looks like and how to build out, you know, pipelines and you know, how to interact with others, and how to be professional within an organization and things like that, you have to remember a lot of people that we’re hiring directly from university, college and coming right into the workforce for the first time. So this is oftentimes their first job. So we’re not only selling, we’re not even, we’re not always just helping them out with their, you know, skills for on the job. But it’s also like how to operate within an, you know, company environment coming from school.

John Corcoran 18:09

And so we’re recording this in August of 2023. It’s about three and a half years from March 2020. And you’ve gone from zero employees at the beginning of COVID. To you have 115. Now, it’s kind of a crazy growth trajectory. But and I know that we were talking before, and you said there were some different breaking points along the way. What were those breaking points? And what did you learn from them? As you got to the size you’re at now?

Paul Griffin 18:38

Yeah, I think, well, our first, our first breaking point, I feel like was around 2530 employees, where all the processes, all the hard work you put in to build the company breaks completely and no longer works, you have to build a completely new processes, completely new policies, you know, you’ve learned a lot about, you know, what operating a company looks like, and, and then you start to try to put some financial controls in and and try to manage it a little bit more sophisticated. And then it breaks again at 50. So you’re kind of back to the start, because all the processes you put in, you know, 30 employees no longer works. 50. And you got to do the same process again. But yeah, I feel like every time we’ve broken now I’m to the point where we, we’ve become such a better company for it that I kind of look at it as more of an opportunity and like, Oh, we’re breaking, you know, where’s the opportunity here? Where do we shift? What do we look at? And how do we see things differently? Because there’s probably a better company on the other side of this.

John Corcoran 19:42

Yeah. And is your team remote? Or do you have people under one roof?

Paul Griffin 19:47

No, we’re fully remote. Yeah, yeah.

John Corcoran 19:49

And what are some of the challenges been around that around having a remote team?

Paul Griffin 19:53

Yeah, I think I’m trying to figure out how to build culture remotely as I always been a challenge, you know, like, very transactional, the world has become when it becomes these meetings, you know, you don’t have as much chit chat or, you know, it’s all owners route or watercolor exactly is to have Yeah. Yeah, but I mean, on the flip side of that, you know, we can hire anybody anywhere. And you know, create a company in a different light. So I think we’ve we’ve been a little bit we’ve, we’ve been, it’s been beneficial in the fact that we built the entire company through the pandemic, and it’s always been remote. So we didn’t have like the before the pandemic on, you know, people thinking about an office or hybrid or anything like that, that’s never been really a thought, in our, in our minds. It’s always just been, we were remote. So we’ve built a processes, controls, you know, how we interact as a company, how we talk to each other. And that’s all been about, that’s all been built through the pandemic. So we know how to do it now. And we do have, you know, localized kind of events in, you know, major cities, where there are kind of pockets of people. But, you know, by and large, all of our events, and everything happens, happens like this on on Zoom. Yeah.

John Corcoran 21:16

You know, this past six months or so has been a very unusual economy, some companies are up, many companies are down, what sorts of challenges have you faced in this economy? And how have you dealt with it or dealt with it from a sales perspective with your clients?

Paul Griffin 21:30

Yeah, well, I think, you know, we struggled, probably, you know, at the beginning of this year, or, you know, late last year, when, you know, software started taking a hit, and there was tons of layoffs, you know, everybody was, everybody in the industry is pretty worried about what was going to happen, you know, is there going to be a recession, you know, how is the world going to end. So we saw, we saw quite a few customers leave just to, you know, conserve cash. So they could, you know, potentially wait out, you know, any fallout that would happen from recession or anything like that. But now, we’re seeing kind of a different trend, where, you know, all the companies that did layoffs are trying to figure out how to do sales now. And there’s, you know, a ton of opportunity and helping companies in the mid market and enterprise side, you know, help them find new opportunities and different markets and new geographies at new segments. So we’ve, I guess, for the last six months or so we’ve traded all of our kind of, you know, startup software companies for like larger enterprise software companies. So it ended up being kind of a blessing in disguise, because now we’ve figured out how to scale large teams versus, you know, one or two reps, we got 10 to 20 reps for clients going in individual projects. So I think, again, like when we broke and had a little bit of a dip, we’re now doing much better than we were before.

John Corcoran 22:54

Right? And then sometimes I see companies where, as they grow, and they have the capability to serve larger clients, then that sometimes leads to a greater concentration, like they only have like enterprise clients. And then that can be a challenge, too. Have you experienced that at all? Where, you know, you can only take on a certain size client? Now it needs to be a larger enterprise client because of you? No, because of the the nature of the size of your company now?

Paul Griffin 23:23

No, I think we’ve, we haven’t made those, I guess, those decisions to only service enterprise, we still like to service, you know, startup software companies, you know, we we’ve been playing more in the AI space now, which is kind of since tends to be the trend of today. So we’ve got a few more and more of those clients. But you know, you have to remember that, you know, all these large software companies started somewhere. And then different companies, providers, suppliers, help them get to where they are. So we’d like to think that you know, any startup company that is in the software space, we can help them grow. And we’d like to grow with them kind of thing.

John Corcoran 24:02

Yeah. How are you starting to leverage AI within your company? Because I’m sure you’ve got a lot of clients that are coming to us saying, Oh, how are you using AI? Because that’s kind of the hot thing.

Paul Griffin 24:13

Yeah, I mean, we use a lot from a, you know, copy development standpoint, content development standpoint, you know, anything from a generative AI, we’ve got, you know, we’re using in our tools today. And I think that’s going to be the norm moving forward. I think it’ll only be better and better. I think it’s gonna be really interesting on how we evolve with AI to get more out of, you know, our employees. Yeah, yeah, for

John Corcoran 24:41

sure. Yeah. And how to give it as a tool to employees and train them up and a lot of all those errors. I’m using uh, now I used it to prepare this interview template actually just preparing with with putting your bio and questions to ask and stuff like that. And it’s one of those things where it’s like, you know, It’s not a perfect solution, you got to be careful with it. But it’s a nice starting point or it’s a nice to generate ideas, you know, that sort of thing. What are you most excited about in your industry in your company? Now as we head towards the second half of

Paul Griffin 25:15

this year? Well, if you work in sales, September and into Q4 is a fun time, usually after the summer, which is it tends to be a little bit more difficult, although we’ve had kind of a record summer this year. So which has been impressive from my team’s perspective, because generally, it’s been a little bit slower. But we’ve had our top three weeks for new opportunities generated all happen this summer, for the company. So that’s been really exciting. But as we go into September, you know, everybody’s back to the office, everybody’s thinking about q4. So from our perspective, it’s kind of the best month of the entire year to be working in sales. And something that really energizes me to get going. And we’ve got quite a few good opportunities in our own pipeline that we should be starting in September, where, you know, we got some new projects coming on, which we’re really excited about. So yeah, it’s gonna be really fun. back half of the year. Yeah.

John Corcoran 26:14

All right. Last question. I’m a big fan of gratitude, especially expressing gratitude to those who’ve helped you along the way in your journey. And so, you know, if you look at your peers and contemporaries, maybe business partners, maybe mentors, others in your industry, however, you wanted to find that, could you want to just shout out publicly and thank them for helping you in your journey?

Paul Griffin 26:36

Yeah, I think, Well, I think the person that’s helped me out the most is my, my partner, Aaron Pollack, she’s really we’ve been dating for, I think, for four years now. And she really helped me, you know, get from where I was at the end of my last company to where I am today, keeping me on track. And, you know, reminding me that, you know, every challenge you know, I’ve kind of gone through something similar before and, you know, you always get through it. So I think having her at my side has been really, really influential and really, incredibly helped me incredibly to be successful. Excellent.

John Corcoran 27:17

The Sales Factory is the name of the company. Where can people go to learn more about you, Paul, and shoot you an email or message you or ask any questions?

Paul Griffin 27:27

Yeah, works with the V and the front. 

John Corcoran 27:32

Perfect. Alright. Thanks so much. 

Paul Griffin 27:36

Thank you so much.

Outro 27:38

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