We founded Sales Hacker in 2013 to give sales practitioners – the folks in the weeds who are responsible for driving revenue – a platform to share their knowledge with a broad audience. We built that platform to over 500 contributors and we get almost 3,000,000 visitors per year, but now it’s time for a change.
Today, Sales Hacker became a true B2B sales community.
Now, any sales professional can join Sales Hacker as a member to ask questions, get immediate answers, and share their experience with like-minded B2B sales professionals.
Let me show you what I mean.
Last Fall, I would have drawn a map of Sales Hacker as something like this:
(Of course, we’ve actually got over 500 contributors and more than 170k subscribers, but you get the picture.)
We work with the most amazing minds in sales to create articles, podcasts, webinars and videos. We’re all really close with each other! And our subscribers can join webinars and ask questions, or even reply to our email newsletter and get speedy, personal responses from our team…
But until now, subscribers didn’t have an easy way to speak directly with each other or with our contributing authors.
We knew we could do more to help all our subscribers take a more active role in the conversation. And we knew that we’d all learn faster if we could figure out how to spark deeper conversations and drive closer connections.
We wanted to redraw the map of Sales Hacker to look like this:
A rich, diverse, inclusive group of sales professionals from all different types of roles, industries, and walks of life — free to give and get knowledge and help from one another!
And that’s exactly what you’re looking at right now.
You now have the ability to comment on anything, reply to any comment, and even start a new discussion thread of your own.
Get started here. (It’s free, of course.)
Sounds Great! How Does It Work?
Getting the most out of being a Sales Hacker member is easy, but if you ever get a little lost, we’ve got a handy user guide.
To start, imagine you’re like Asa.
Asa is a Director of Sales, and he has noticed it’s sometimes hard for him to get feedback on his own performance. He wonders if that’s normal, and if there are ways he can get his boss and his employees to be more forthcoming with him.
Naturally, he does a few searches around his challenge on Sales Hacker, looking for advice. He finds some good articles and a webinar, but he could really use some sage advice from a peer who has been there before.
So Asa goes to the Sales Management Channel on Sales Hacker…
…and starts a new discussion asking the Sales Hacker community for help. He can get answers from all of our contributing authors, his peers, and even people in other roles and industries: anybody who is a Sales Hacker member.
Within minutes, he gets a whole lot of helpful answers!
But one answer stands out as particularly helpful.
That’s some sage advice from Zach Barney, Sr. Director of Sales at Nearmap!
But Asa has a follow-up question. It’s one he’d rather not share with the whole community, so he goes to Zach’s profile page, and messages her/him directly.
You can use Sales Hacker the same way.
We will still publish all our usual articles, podcasts, webinars, and video series. But now, you can also get help and give your own advice on whatever sales-related topic you choose, and connect with other sales pros like you.
Just claim your profile to get started getting help and proving your expertise.
Here’s Why We Did It
This re-build began with a survey of our subscribers in October 2019. We correlated those responses with our NPS scores to find what our biggest, most excited fans wanted from us.
We learned that our biggest fans are more likely to say that “feeling a sense of community is important.”
So we knew that to make our biggest fans even happier, we could strengthen the sense of community they feel.
We learned that, across the board, lots of people wanted a community more than anything else we could offer.
We also launched the video series analyzing real sales demo recordings.
Lastly, we learned that people wanted us to build a community for a wide variety of reasons.
This means when we build the community, there would be people there to both ask questions and give answers — which is obviously super important!
We decided immediately to build a community. We also decided to rebuild our website, hosting the community here for two big reasons:
- We don’t want to have a community, or add a community. Sales Hacker IS a community.
- We don’t want to rely on Slack, LinkedIn, Facebook, or anybody else to make this community excellent.
Decision made. Colin Campbell, our Director of Marketing, spent about 60 hours speaking with 102 of the survey respondents to ask them about what kinds of features we should include and how they’d use it.
As they talked, he learned what tied them all together. It didn’t matter what industry, what role, or what level of seniority he spoke to. Everybody had a four key things in common:
- They are extremely dedicated lifelong learners.
- They want to give back their own experience to help others.
- They push to elevate the sales profession.
- They sometimes feel like they face their challenges all alone.
The irony! As William Shakespeare wrote, “Now I see the mystery of your loneliness.”
With input from survey respondents and interviewees, Colin sketched up some simple mockups and asked for feedback on those, too.
Here’s the first version, sketched out at a Starbucks in Milford, MA, after we brainstormed what it should look and feel like:
By the way, that first group of 102 amazing survey respondents was so helpful that we started calling them our Founding Members. We added them all together in a temporary Slack group, which we used to do things like coordinate launch plans, get further input on features, and ask for help.
Seriously, we couldn’t have done it without them. Give them a hand!
We also took inspiration from lots of other communities built around excellent content, which surprisingly have nothing at all to do with sales:
- The Mighty – The Mighty is a support community for people and caretakers of those with illnesses of all kinds. We looked to The Mighty because their website started as a publication just like Sales Hacker’s, but they built conversations into feeds with all their existing content. Very clever.
- Genius – A great lyrics website. We really like it because they allow annotations on the lyrics on their site. It’s a cool feature because it allows users to leave comments directly on specific parts of a song’s lyrics — not just a comment in reply to the whole song. It also means you don’t need to scroll all the way to the bottom to see the great conversations.
Research and planning done, we hired developers, a designer, and Mary Green, our incredible Community Manager, and we were off to the races!
We’ve got a long roadmap of exciting features and new initiatives we’ll add to this community over the coming years.
But first and most importantly, we — all of us — need to be good stewards of quality conversation. To help with that, we wrote up some simple ground rules:
- Give more than you take.
- No abuse, harassment, or disrespect.
- No spam, promotion, or selling.
- Respect people’s privacy.
- Debate ideas, not people.
We go into a little more detail about what behaviors are allowed and expected in our Community Code of Conduct.
A Note on Timing
As I write this, we’re smack in the middle of a pandemic. Hopefully you’re reading this from a happier, socially closer future. Right now, things are tough.
We did a survey of nearly 500 businesses just a few weeks ago to find out the effect of the pandemic on each stage of the sales pipeline. Hint: not great for most sales teams.
Aside from our numbers being affected, we’re all affected as people. I’m not going to list the ways. There are enough articles about that already.
The truth is, we didn’t set out to build a community in response to everybody now being forced to work remotely. We were working on it long before this all happened. But it sure does seem like the sales world needs this community now more than ever.
I know the whole Sales Hacker team and our amazing group of Founding Members all hope that this community serves as a place of connection not just for now, but forever.