In 2016, I was hired by Dataminr as their first VP of Inside Sales. My job was to build an inside sales team from the ground up. Recruiting, hiring and training was the formula. I knew how to recruit and I knew how to hire the right people and I also knew that unless we had an onboarding program for our new hires, I would fail at building a successful inside sales department.
Up until the time I arrived, Dataminr had made its mark selling its technology to large enterprises. Think Fox News, CNN, BBC, Royal Bank of Scottland, Morgan Stanley and NYPD. The sales team that was there, if you could even call it that, was made up of industry types with domain expertise who essentially acted as customer success representatives. All very good and incredibly smart people. Dataminr’s technology served four distinct vertical markets: News, Finance, Public Sector & Corporate Security. Each vertical had its own version of Dataminr with its own distinct features and settings. The sales organization was broken up into four teams, each of which served it’s own respective vertical. My team, the team in which I would eventually build would, however, sell into all four verticals. Where was I even supposed to start? I had zero background in Finance or News but spent some time in IT security sales. Since I was a job hopper though, I did have the great fortune of participating in some of the best sales onboarding programs and I would now be able to take my learnings and build one of my own. Here is how I built and delivered Dataminr’s first new hire onboarding program in 90 days.
“Since I was a job hopper though, I did have the great fortune of participating in some of the best sales onboarding programs and I would now be able to take my learnings and build one of my own.”
Days 1 - 30: Interview & Understand
Dataminr was one of the most unique places I’ve worked at. We actually had our buyer personas working at our company. For example, in our News vertical, we had former journalists serving as domain experts and salespeople. The same went for our Public Sector team which was comprised of military veterans, retired public sector employees, and led by a West Point Graduate and Iraq War Veteran. Our Corporate Security vertical was led by a former CIA field operative. Our finance teams were made up of former Wall St traders, banking analysts, and portfolio managers. I had access to all of these amazing and talented minds. For nearly a month I met with over 30 individuals to learn about each market we served and how they would leverage our technology if they were back in their previous roles. From this exercise, our ICP was born, our go-to-market messaging was beginning to take shape and perhaps most importantly, I forged some awesome relationships. As I now look back, they were the pillars of my early success. If any of you are reading this - THANK YOU.
“From this exercise, our ICP was born, our go-to-market messaging was beginning to take shape and perhaps most importantly, I forged some awesome relationships.”
Days 31 - 60: Build The Team
Without a great team, it’s really hard to build something awesome, especially in under 90 days! Out of the 30 plus internal interviews I conducted, I gained 10 allies who offered to be a part of my onboarding program. Each ally took responsibility for creating an educational track and also teaching it. My job was to organize all of this amazing content and then compile it into a structured course that could be taught within 7-10 business days. The first draft of the course schedule looked something like this:
Imagine having one of these courses taught to you by a Stock Trader from Citibank or a retired U.S. Army Sgt? It’s pretty amazing when you think about it.
“Without a great team, it’s really hard to build something awesome, especially in under 90 days!”
Days 61 - 90: Deliver and Empower
Introducing a sales onboarding program to an organization whose roots were primarily based on engineering and domain expertise was going to be a challenge. I, fortunately, reported to the President who also believed in building a predictable sales engine. Once he reviewed the draft of my onboarding plan and realized that I was able to garner support from 10 other team members, he had me present my onboarding plan to our C-suite for final approval. Once my presentation was complete, my President looked at me said, “Ryan, I think you just created the onboarding program for the entire company”.
“I, fortunately, reported to the President who also believed in building a predictable sales engine.”
Building a new hire onboarding program is the foundation of sales enablement and long-term sales success. Start with a simple approach and build upon it as your organization grows and changes. But definitely start with something rather than nothing at all.