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Alan’s culture for sales: a customer-facing role in a written culture

Public salaries, written culture, stocks for every employee, no variable compensation… Since the creation of Alan, we offer a very original working environment, based on a disruptive company culture.

Alan’s culture for sales: a customer-facing role in a written culture
Updated on
20 February 2024
Updated on
20 February 2024
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In this article

In this series of posts about Alan’s culture for Sales we are showing how Sales live by the Alan principles, and why they create the conditions for Sales to be fulfilled in their job. You can read the first part and introduction here, and the article about Fearless ambition and Distributed Ownership here.

Alan’s culture for sales
Alan’s culture for sales

About the Alan Principles

At Alan, we have defined 5 values, pillars of our culture, that enable each Alaner to evolve in a unique environment:

  • Member First

  • Fearless Ambition 

  • Distributed Ownership

  • Radical Transparency 

  • Personal and Community Growth

In this article we describe what Radical Transparency and Personal and Community Growth means for a Sales Alaner.

🪞 Radical Transparency

Transparent salaries

Salaries are simple and public at Alan. Only 2 criteria impact the level of salary: Level of impact (from A to I) and the total number of years of experience. The level of seniority is determined by the assessment of the candidate on a few key criteria: Ownership, Sales skills, Leadership etc. 

All Alaners know each other’s level, and it helps the team calibrate the level of the new hires. It is a good way to guarantee a fair system and to avoid salary negotiations at the end of the hiring process. 

In addition to the fixed salary, Alaners are granted competitive equity packages. This is our own variable compensation, and it has always been very attractive given the spectacular evolution of Alan’s valuation. For more details, refer to the section “Personal and Community Growth”.

Written culture

This is the source of several misunderstandings! 

We do have a written culture, with the following objectives: 

  • Everybody can contribute to the debate and the decisions we take as a company. There is no executive committee, or any other authority that would exclude some team members. We store and share knowledge across the company to not reinvent the wheel every year (which is a high risk in a hyper growth environment).

For example

When a salesperson makes a convincing pitch, they immediately share it on Slack with their team members. 

  • It creates the conditions of a real “work from anywhere” policy, where you can grow and develop at Alan wherever you live.

➡️ This is why we do not take any decisions in meetings. 

Does this mean we do not meet at all? Of course not. We constantly communicate between Sales:

  • A weekly team meeting: to go through achievements and challenges, celebrate success, and align on the top problems to solve

  • A 1-1 with the team lead: to go through the Sales’ pipe, help them prioritize, choose the right battles, unlock some stale discussions, and take a step back on the overall result to date and the key priorities

  • Dry runs: rehearsals before an important client meeting with 3-4 team members to be ready on D-day

  • Trainings / live sessions: dedicated sessions to ramp up on a specific topic 

  • Team Events: drinks, team dinners, or larger events

Embracing the big picture

Whether you have been at Alan for a few days or for several years, whether your role is senior or it is your very first job, you have access to all the information in the company, including the most confidential one (for example, discussions with potential investors on fundraising).

📈 Personal and Community Growth

No variable compensation = collective effort

In my past experiences, it was very frequent that 2 Sales would fight for the same lead, both of them pretending it was theirs. This doesn’t happen at Alan, where we see an inspiring solidarity between team members.

Example: If a Sales rep knows a prospect personally but the lead is not in their pipe, they will take the time to introduce the prospect to the Sales who owns the lead, prepare the meeting with them, and even attend it to help close the deal. This won’t be counted as an added quota, but it is highly appreciated and this impact will be valorised in their review.

Equity is our variable compensation

One specificity of successful scale-ups is the increase of their valuation. We believe all team members should be rewarded for this success. We have defined two ways to incentivize people:

  • Equity: we grant stock options to all Alaners when they join, which allows them to become shareholders.

  • Promotions: promotion cycles happen twice a year, and allow top performers to reach the next level (from B1 to C, from D to E etc.). Promoted Alaners benefit from a salary increase, and are granted additional stock-options, to make up the difference between their new level and their former one. 

What are stock-options? Why are they so interested in Alan?

Long story short: Alan is a fast growing company, so equity value is dramatically increasing. As such, being in possession of shares is much more interesting than getting a classic variable package. 

To give a concrete example, the value of stock options for an Alaner who joined 2 years ago has now increased 10 times over. The incentive is material.

I/C contributors can grow as fast as team leads

There are many ways to perform and grow at Alan. We value “individual contributors” paths equally as much as “team leadership” ones. Concretely, a Sales who achieves a great performance will have the same level of seniority as a team lead (the situation is frequent). 

We offer multiple career paths to help the team grow… 

Teams grow fast and we open new positions very frequently, at every level.We rely a lot on internal mobility to fill these positions and scale. Indeed, it is instrumental that Alaners have the opportunity to grow and take on new responsibilities. We consider it is one of the most important missions in the company, and with this process, we differentiate ourselves from many scale-ups who focus a majority of their efforts on hiring more senior people.

  • Example 1: as of today, 70% of sales team leads come from internal mobilities, meaning they were individual sales contributors before.

  • Example 2: several sales are now working in marketing, account management, or sales operations.

… and we hire builders to scale

In parallel, we hire externally to help the team grow. For senior executive positions, the process is selective and demanding, because we always ask ourselves: “Is this person going to help us raise the bar?”. 

One of the most important qualities in senior leaders is a builder mindset. On paper, many candidates are tempted to present themselves as builders. But in reality, it means: 

  • Working with less support or processes versus established companies (Example: we don’t have a department who builds 100% of prospection materials for the sales team)

  • Investing time in the foundations, and not only on client-facing topics

  • And more importantly, not trying to copy-paste your own experience / framework blindly, but adapting it to the industry, our strategy and the culture. Example:  value selling is very used in SaaS businesses. But it does not really apply to our mission, as we prefer to build an emotional fit than a ROI approach on well-being

For example: we hired a senior leader in Belgium who managed to scale a business from 0 to 100. He managed to drive the business with great success in year 1 in Belgium. We expanded his scope to Spain.

Conclusion

Living by our values and our culture creates a unique environment for Sales, made of long-term thinking, personal growth paths, and full alignment between company and people goals. 

Now, if the values remain the same, the way we live by them evolves over time. What we shared above is a true summary of how we work today, but it is a living organism. And this is perhaps the last and most important takeaway of this article: Everyone edits the company. The team brings new ideas, challenges the way we operate. This article, like any other product, is subject to iterations and improvements. So we will update it regularly to match the reality of what it means to be a Sales at Alan.

Published on 31/05/2022

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