I love sales and the sales profession. As a kid, I was a terrible student. I got put in remedial classes and was told I needed prescription ADHD pills in order to focus. I didn’t go to a top college.
But sales doesn’t care about any of that. The sales profession accepts all regardless of grades or education. On top of that, the amount of money you make will often directly correlates to how hard you work. What an amazing profession!
How Sales Hacker Came to Be and Where We Are Today
For those of you who haven’t followed us for long, you might not know how we got started.
It was 2013, and sales tech was just starting to heat up. I had gotten a reputation for hacking the sales process by leveraging this new sales tech at a rapidly growing online education marketplace, Udemy.
In September of that year, I decided to organize a small conference called the Sales Hacker Conference. At the time, there only existed a few companies in the space. ToutApp was our main sponsor. We had a few others. 300 people came out to enjoy the event, and I received such positive feedback that I considered doing more of them.
I had just left my previous company upon acquisition, so I was a free agent. I had a decision to make.
- Go be a VP Sales at an early stage company.
- Go start my own company.
- Continue the conferences and see where it takes me.
The first conference netted me $60k in profit in only 4 weeks of work. I was also able to build a reputation and network through it I probably couldn’t do elsewhere. So I said screw it, let’s see where we can take this thing. My downside was minimal since it was a profitable business. The learning and networking was worth it.
We grew, built, and tested
Conferences led to our blog, which led to meetups in 32 cities globally. This then led to webinars, virtual events, consulting and training, and even my book, Hacking Sales.
We were a nice cash flow business. Our business allowed sales vendors to leverage our platform to build thought leadership in front of an engaged audience of B2B salespeople.
Since there are very few college courses in sales, we wanted to create the leading resource for real-time sales education. For practitioners, by practitioners. And we did just that.
We grew and we grew, built and tested. And, we tried and failed sometimes, we tried and succeeded sometimes. Our website traffic has grown to this.
Revenue looks similar.
Recommended read: How Sales Hacker Grew 426% & Used SEO to Get Acquired
Sales Hacker is Now Like an Outsourced CMO
Over time, we became almost like outsourced CMOs for 120+ SaaS Sales technology vendors. Our partners include Microsoft, Salesforce, DocuSign, Marketo, Hubspot, LinkedIn, Adobe, CallidusCloud, and more to Gong, Chorus, Outreach, Vidyard, SalesLoft, Highspot etc.
In turn, I learned more about marketing than I know about sales. Which is a great place to be when you think about it. I started in sales, built a community for salespeople, and now I know how to market to them.
It’s not rocket science. Salespeople just want support, value, and the ability to have useful conversations, rooted in authenticity. They want to hear from others like them, spot fluffy bullsh*t from a mile away. It should be served up real and to the point.
From in-person conferences, we pivoted to being fully digital
Last year we made a massive pivot. We saw the window closing on conferences as a profit-maker and had to figure out how to take the community over to digital. Thus, we shifted almost all of our revenue to digital, which is more scalable, trackable, and targeted than in-person events.
Our customers loved it. We were happy. But something was still missing.
Our model did not always let us focus on quality over revenue
The thing about the last 4 years of Sales Hacker is we’ve always had to do things that directly produced revenue. We’ve never had a big upsell like training or consulting or research and advisory or our own SaaS.
Doing things for revenue means sometimes you have to make sacrifices. Sacrifices to content, to growth, to engagement. Until today.
I’ve had the pleasure of standing on the sidelines and watching some amazing technology products and companies grow. They will support the future of sales in ways never possible before.
How Outreach Grew from $0-$30 Million with Very Little Marketing
One day about a month ago, I sat down with Manny Medina, the CEO of Outreach. Manny and I have an interesting relationship. About 3.5 years ago we sat down together in a similar fashion and he asked me for advice on his new product, Outreach.
He was looking for seed funding and had a little traction, but what I loved most was how he was approaching the opportunity.
He wanted to create a sales engagement platform but come from a product and customer success perspective. It was the most robust product and roadmap I had seen in the space.
And for those of you who’ve met or seen Manny speak, you know within a few minutes that he walks the walk. So I wrote him a check, but I told him he would receive no special treatment from the Sales Hacker Community. It was completely separate to my personal investments (my first angel investment, and best to date).
Fast forward to last month. Outreach is still very much a product- and customer- success-led company. If you’re a customer, investor, employee, partner, or prospect, that’s definitely what you want to see.
However, the truly incredibly thing about Outreach is how they’ve been able to grow from $0-$30m+ in ARR, and be valued at over $500m in under 3 years. All this, with essentially very little marketing.
I’m sure by now you can see where I’m going with this.
Sales Hacker and Outreach — Why and What Next
As of today, I will be joining Outreach as their new VP of Marketing.
The mission is bigger than just building a company. It’s about building a whole new category around Sales Engagement and Revenue Efficiency. Like how Salesforce pioneered the Cloud and HubSpot pioneered Inbound.
Sales Hacker will continue to run independently, but will no longer need to focus on revenue first. Thanks to Outreach, we will be able to provide you with 100% the best possible content we can source.
While Outreach is funding the operation, we have strictly outlined and agreed that Sales Hacker will run on it’s own, and not as a part of Outreach.
What this means for Sales Hacker and our community
- Sales Hacker stays a stand alone business and runs independently. Think LinkedIn and Microsoft.
- There will be no Outreach branding anywhere.
- Outreach sales reps will never have access to the Sales Hacker database.
- The content will continue to remain unbiased. We will continue to provide the same level or content or higher now that we have more resources.
For our audience and customers, it’s a complete win-win-win situation all around. As for Outreach, this is about investing in the growth of the category and the future of sales technology.
I’m super excited for this new adventure and to continue to get closer to the sales community from a new vantage point. Thank you for all of your support along the way!
We’re just getting started and I look forward to providing more value for salespeople everywhere.
Also published on Medium.