In the Age of the Startup, it’s not uncommon for small, ambitious teams to subsist on solutions bound together by baling wire and duct tape. In the early days, when an operational budget is essentially non-existent, a team has to make do with the resources they can get their hands on. Such was the case for the team at Nine University, an online academy for entrepreneurial folks interested in Amazon FBA.
After finding their own tremendous success in the Amazon FBA space, the duo - Kale Abrahamsom & Taylor Hiott - wanted to help others do the same. With the content and fulfillment system they needed to go to market in place, their team quickly exploded, working to keep up with the demand for their educational materials and consultative services.
In the first few months of operation, Taylor constructed an impressive system out of Google Sheets, ScheduleOnce, Drip, and Zapier. Honestly, we’d never seen more complex spreadsheet formulas or a harder working Zapier account. And the system was working. It was getting prospects scheduled for meetings. It allowed reps to track their daily activities, wins, and losses. It provided high level visibility into the bottom line.
Even with all the automation and connections in place, there were still some major efficiency gains to be realized. There were growth opportunities buried in the chaos of the growing team. As the headcount increased rapidly, so did the need for a sales system that could scale with them.
After some quick and careful evaluation, Taylor landed on HubSpot’s Sales Hub Enterprise platform as his number one choice. The ease of use, sales acceleration toolset, and integration flexibility proved to fit the bill for what the expanding team needed. But even before pulling the trigger on the license, Taylor expressed the following challenges:
The booming team needed a custom configuration built out to support their model and processes, but Taylor had dozens of competing priorities. While he was confident that he could do it, he was not convinced he should do it if there was another option. If he could find a well-qualified partner to work with, he’d be able to spend his time on other important things that only he could tackle.
Time was of the essence as Taylor was preparing to bring on 13 more reps by the month end - a mere three weeks later. It takes a decent chunk of time to design, implement, and onboard a new toolset in most organizations. Could it be done in three weeks? Could it be done with an external architect at the helm? Could it be done with key stakeholders out of the office for a few days?
Fully aware that his team would respond with varying levels of engagement regardless of being on-site or remote, it was important that the system be simple to learn and use on a daily basis without losing any visibility into the important metrics they were tracking. And it would be important to nail the web-based training series on the first try to avoid losing buy-in from the get-go. How could this be done knowing the extent to which their technical competency ranged?
We saw an opportunity to help a new HubSpot customer with aggressive sales goals get their team and technology working together to drive results. Those are the opportunities our Sales Enablement team is energized by, regardless of the budget.
At the recommendation of his HubSpot rep, Taylor connected with us to review his challenges and discuss his objectives.
With a clear understanding of the job at hand, we got right to work putting together our plan of action. To help them achieve their aggressive goals, we proposed an aggressive scope of work:
To put that in perspective, a recent informal online poll to other agencies garnered only one response for “we get a CRM up and running in less than 30 days.” Far and away, it typically takes 1-2 months.
If we were going to succeed as a team, we had to jump right into it. According to Stephanie Tran, the Sales System Architect on this project, priority number one was setting expectations around communication and execution.
Communication was particularly important for this project since Taylor was going to be out for a few days right in the middle of the project when I needed him most. Taylor had expressed that he didn't want to be a bottleneck, so we agreed that emails must be answered within a day.
We started off with email communication but eventually graduated to just spending 5 or 10 minutes on the phone here and there, which ended up being super efficient for someone as busy as Taylor.
On the backside of thorough audits and conversations with Taylor from a Sales Manager perspective, and with Steve Lyman from an end-user perspective, the Sales System Architect compiled all of her insights into an architecture map. We have found that this visual representation of tools and processes is an especially effective way to articulate our plan.
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Approval from Taylor and buy-in from Steve was key going into the next phase of building the system. With such a tight timeline, there was little margin for error or misunderstanding. It was important to implement all the mechanisms for automation, tracking, and sales process correctly the first time.
At the end of the second week, the team demo’d the system to confirm everything was built to spec and in a way that worked in real life application. It’s easy to mastermind whole systems in a vacuum, but it doesn’t take long for misguided ideas to expose themselves in a go-live scenario.
With approval on the system heading into the third week, it was time to execute the training plan. Successful adoption is highly contingent on proper training and user buy-in, so it was critical to nail this piece. Because the CRM was built out to be as easy to use as possible and include processes they already knew, the main objective in training was familiarizing them with the click paths and features they’d be utilizing the most.
Based on the group size - 37 sales reps (!) - our team took a slightly different approach. While much of the demonstration aspect was done the same way, we added a question moderator so that folks could type their questions into the chat pane to be answered at the end. Having an extra person monitoring and organizing the questions coming in turned out to be incredibly effective. The sales reps were very engaged and excited to be moving over from their old Google Sheets to the new CRM!
Here’s what Stephanie said about their reaction to the work she’d done:
They liked it! Taylor couldn't come to the training but he's not a primary user anyway, his closers are. Jason Levy, a fellow Sales System Architect at Revenue River, was moderating the chat and they were really, really excited about HubSpot and all the new tools they’d get to use.
Finally, at the end of the third week, the team received access to a slew of assets - screen recordings and documentation - that they could refer back to when they needed a refresh. And given how quickly NineU is growing, these recorded training materials will be invaluable for onboarding new team members.
The users are fully embracing the new toolset and have found tons of value in the productivity features that allow them to easily make calls, set meetings, and send emails. These activities are set to trigger automated actions in the system that free them up to focus on following up with leads and closing them into customers.
And just as planned, the team grew by 13 reps by month end. Even though they weren’t on the original training, they seem to be doing well right out of the gate.
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High trust is invaluable in all successful partnerships, but it is especially critical on projects with aggressive goals. From the outset, our team demonstrated that we understood the NineU team’s objectives and had the competency to build a new and improved system around their processes.
A clearly outlined game plan and the discipline to clear any hurdles to keep it on track were the winning aspects of this system launch. This serves as a reminder that:
If you’re ready to implement the winning formula for your own team, let us help you get started. We are always looking for opportunities to help growth-minded organizations scale with confidence and integrity. If you'd like to see how we approach projects like this from scratch, check out the 11 steps to standing up the HubSpot Enterprise Sales System.