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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.
At Alan, we have defined 5 values, pillars of our culture, that enable each Alaner to evolve in a unique environment:
In this article we describe what Fearless Ambition and Distributed Ownership means for a Sales Alaner.
From the outside, it may sound crazy that we aim to reach 3M members by 2025 (we have 300K users today). But 3 years ago, when we had 25K members, it already sounded extremely ambitious to reach our current size.
So how do we proceed? It’s all about segmenting our market, and addressing it segment by segment, fighting one battle at a time. Every year, we define:
Our core segments: these are the segments where our market share is already high, and where we aim for market leadership.
Our new segments: these are exploratory, but they will represent the majority of our growth in 1-2 years (they are tomorrow’s core segments).
For each segment, we define an order of events to create a snowball effect. For example, on new segments:
We identify early adopters who have a close DNA with Alan
We identify small/medium-size networks who have a strong influence in the segment
We coordinate prospection between a bottom-up approach (stores, franchises, subsidiaries) and a top-down one (HQ, associations)
We leverage our first clients to increase awareness and open new doors…
Going after new segments means the first year is exploratory. It takes time to understand the specificities of the industry, who the key networks are, how to build awareness…
It could mean not closing any deals for a long period of time. To tackle this issue and build confidence, we focus on the path rather than the results:
Focus on the leading KPIs: Are we talking to more companies? To more key stakeholders?
Market knowledge: What have we learnt about the market? Who are the key networks?
Make sure Sales are aware of what they are doing well: What are our first victories? What prevents us from securing our next ones?
Sales Progress: What are Sales achieving now, that they could not do one month ago?
The main objective is to visualize the path to success progressively for everyone.
Our competitors often lower their prices significantly when they find out they face Alan in a deal. In some cases, they even sell at a loss. We never enter into a price war. We are competitive but we do not claim to be the cheapest, and we will certainly not sell at a loss.
This is why we focus our sales pitch on the unconsidered needs and our ability to offer the best solution to answer them. If we feel a client just wants the lowest price (even if it means facing a price increase down the line), we drop the deal to focus on more promising opportunities.
All the Sales joining Alan work on a specific segment, which is defined by two criteria: the company size and the industry.
Every year, we offer Sales the possibility to switch to another segment. On average, 20-25% of the Sales use this opportunity and move to a different segment. Of course, it means Sales need to rebuild their pipe, and ramp up on a new industry / type of clients, but it is exactly what excites them. It is an opportunity to grow as Sales, as it forces them to focus on their core skills to succeed.
When a company grows a Sales team very fast, from 10 to 100 or 200, there is a risk that Sales start feeling they are just another FTE in the team.
We solve this thanks to:
1/ Segmentation: there are no more than 10/15 sales working on the same segment, which allows them to have a material impact on the segment’s go-to-market plan. Also, each segment gets specialized support from Marketing (lead gen, content, product marketing…)
2/ Team empowerment. of course, Sales use a global framework: A global sales methodology, some key processes, the same tools across countries and teams (Salesforce, Outreach, Modjo…), and a consistent organization (10ish people per sub-team, SDR / AE, team leads).
But beyond this, teams are fully autonomous. There is no detailed top-down plan which instructs the teams on how to operate. Every Sales contributes to defining the best sales approach for their business segment:
Which networks should the crew prioritize in the segment? Who are the influencers?
How should we tailor our pitch? tailor the demo? answer to objections?
Are there any specific product blockers?
How should we organize ourselves to maximize prospection?…
➡️ Everyone has a decisive impact on the collective project.
We provide Sales with the best tools, to make them work in full autonomy and reduce low value-adding tasks to the bare minimum. These tools allow Sales to be in control of their performance, and help them identify their main areas of improvement.
To list a few:
Salesforces for the CRM
Notion for the sales playbook
Outreach for outbound sequences
Modjo for recordings and debriefs
Harvest to centralize product gaps and needs
Every Alaner is assessed by at least four people every 6 months. We distribute the responsibility of Alaner’s assessment, because this is the best way to have a global and unbiased vision of someone’s performance. These reviews are used to define who gets promoted.
With the best tools to work and clear but fearless objectives, the Sales team at Alan keeps motivated and has everything needed to achieve some unbelievable goals. However, how can this be aligned with personal growth? How can a customer-faced job can be performed with the highest quality in a written culture? Keep reading to understand how all Alan Principles align to make this disruptive culture work.