It is exactly 6 months since Sales Huddle was born. The first Sales Huddle was Wednesday, February 5th from 9am to 10am EST. The original ideas was like "sales office hours' or similar to water cooler talk. We had 3 folks join, they all loved it, so I kept hosting. We’ve been adding folks consistently, almost every week since then.
I’m working on finalizing my plans for the second half of the year and wanted to take the time to think about some accomplishments, what’s working, what’s still challenging, lessons learned, action steps, some themes I’m seeing.
Two disclaimers that feel worth a share
It feels really vulnerable and a little gross to share this to share this, like I’ve not accomplished enough or something. It’s also perfectly in line with the honest and integrity of Sales Huddle themselves are run, so I’m excited.
I'm a horrible speller. You've been warned. I am and always have been a horrible speller and it's not something I'm going to prioritizing improving, as much as I check it and use spell check I always miss things. The only way I’ve found to solve this is to hire an editor, which I do at times, and do not think is appropriate for a blog post, so I’ve decided that good enough is better than perfect a long time ago with my writing so thank you for understanding.
I’ve separated them into a few segments.
What’s a challenge
Vision and Product roadmap
Number of Huddles held: 64
Number of current members: 44
Number of paid members: 12
Number of No’s, folks that I asked to join and said no: 9
Number of folk who have joined and left: 5
Joined and never come to huddle: 8
Joined and come to only a single huddle: 10
Came to 3 sales huddle, asked to pay: 15
Number of people who have never come to more than 2: 23, 52%
Percent who have come to more than 3 then joined: 80%. Note that this is the current number, I expect this to climb.
Some questions the come up about the stats
Number of paid members is relatively small, but quickly growing, since I started charging in late May.
40%+ of folks that joined the email list never got to 2 sales huddles. Interesting! Something to investigate. Either folks join and are active or they join the list hardly ever came.
The other half join and come consistently. Something to capture are: active vs non active, active participation as a percent of all huddles. This will allow me to understand MC capacity as the network grows.
2. What’s working
All members who I’ve interviewed after their 3rd Sales Huddle have appreciated the clear, yet firm and friendly moderation. It keeps them from feeling like their time was wasted and helps them to support them in getting the help that they need.
Elegant meeting structure
The format is simple, clear, and effective, and can work many different types of Sales Huddles. The elegance allows for flexibility in the type of Sales Huddle being run, with out needing to change the structure, this allow the members to know what to expect and also moderation to get better.
Product is unique, needed, and valuable
Sales Huddle is unique and provides valuable services. I can tell it’s unique because people will share this, I know that there’s many communities out there and also not many with the intimacy, moderation, structure, and consistency. I think that oftentimes communities have too much advice, too many members so there’s a lot of noise, and too much teaching, and do not have enough real time feedback or relationship building. I can tell that it’s unique because often times when I’m speaking with a salesperson, if I simple introduce what I do, they ask to join.
New members are easy to find and their profile is clear
They’ve come from existing network, referrals, Linkedin. All of the members have been coming from 3 sources, my existing network, referrals from members and me spending more time interacting with folks on Linkedin.
It's easy for me to identify good members.
The sales process is easy, they come to a Sales Huddle and see it for themselves
Since Sales Huddle is free to try, the product can sell itself. All I'm doing is being a gatekeeper to identify a clear "no", any of the 'yeses' can verify for themselves. I love sales process like this.
The new booking system is working beautifully. Instant RSVPs, no more replies to email.
I think it’s been really useful to build the network as low tech as possible. It’s allowed me to focus on talking with members and running Huddles vs working about technology.
I started asked for membership money in mid May, so I Can focus on this full time. I’ve asked 15 folks for money, 12 have said yes and paid. 7 of those came in July. I expect for it to be 5 - 10 through the end of 2020 based on the existing pipeline. I’m feel great about offering the first 30 members VIP pricing as a way to show my appreciate for everyone trusting me, seeing the vision, and joining early and it’s also clear to me that $300/year is underpriced and I’m excited that I understand this now from experience.
Sales Huddle is valuable to members for many reasons.
Here are some of the valuable parts of a Sales Huddle that members have shared with me, each is separate and also related and builds on it each other. All of these show me that the process itself is the what brings everything together.
Outside perspective. Many members have said they enjoy getting an outside perspective from outside their company, even if there company has a lot of sales support because everyone can be very tunnel visioned.
Presence. Most Sales Huddle members have between 5 and 15 years of experience so if there’s 4 people on a Sales Huddle, any one person has between 15 and 45 years of experience helping them solve their problem at any time with 100% focused.
Honesty. Each member is not invested in the other, this provides a level of honesty in feedback that is harder for feedback between a consultant or within a company.
Real time feedback. There is a value in real time, direct, 1on1 feedback that does not exist on slack, linkedin groups, roundtables, webinars, lectures.
Trusted peers. It’s critical that members trust that the other members know where they are coming from, this enables them to trust the advice. I’ve also noticed that this has made separating groups into b2b and b2c cohorts increase the value of work rounds, because the sales motions are significantly different enough.
Actionable advice. Not only are work statement self-directed, the advice giving is actionable to that specific situation.
Consistency. In sales repetition is key, it is the constant reinforcement that makes something stick. While one time training and seminars are nice, it’s the constant enforcement that gets something to stick and this is what is most missing from the craft of sales.
There peer-to-peer aspect of Sales Huddle has many benefits.
Teaching is the best way to learn. I’ve heard many times from members that they learn a lot from giving advice to others.
We all learn and get reminded hearing other work statements. Members share that they often learn from, and get reminded of, other’s members work statements.
We get help on exactly what we need. The work in Sales Huddle is self-direct, no one is telling you what you should be doing, what you need to do, or anything like this. Folks have said that they find it useful to be able to ask for exactly what they want and get help that.
3. What’s a challenge
Scheduling has been a challenge, getting started, it’s important to me to have a minimum number of folks in each Sales Huddle, which means not having many Sales Huddles, and having a small number makes it so that it might not work everyone’s schedule.
Split of two types of users
There are two different types of user, those that join and do not engage consistently or those that join and engage. I’d need to dig into this deeper.
Clear Digital Presence
My website and Linkedin pages are unclear, focused on my previous evolutions that ended up being Sales Huddle: 1on1 sales coaching, and peer to peer Call Reviews. In some ways, I'm impressed at how many folks joining through a website that made no sense and with a simple sign up page.
Members are in the dark!
One of the things I’ve recently noticed is how much members are in the dark. I know everyone and have been everyone, but members have only met people who they have been in a Sales Huddle. They are joining without knowing anyone, RSVPing without knowing who is in the Sales Huddle. I’ve realized I need to be empathic and understanding of what I leap of trust and faith this is, and also grateful for how many folks have taken this leap and trusted me.
4. Lesson Learned
Sales Huddle vision is simple, clear, and valuable: providing a space for salespeople to get peer to peer feedback. Value: relationships, honesty, outside perspective, actionable advice, consistency, support.
Value is easily recognizable to target customer: for salespeople, I often introduce what I do and they are interested.
Members are in the dark. I need to work on bringing more transparency both in the low-tech version of Sales Huddle and in the next version.
Randomness does create value, do not try to control everything.
Sales Huddle is unique.
Intimacy is critical, 5 person max is key. Risk is too much noise and not enough signal.
First customers are not always the best or target customers: initial confidence came from folks that ave never come, or come and unsubscribed. Im thankful for their confidence.
Meeting structure works well.
Format can work for other verticals: marketing, HR, IT, etc. I’ve already have requests to run Huddle for marketing and fundraising.
5. Action Statements
What will I change based on the lessons learned.
Upgrade RSVP process. Already done.
Hand picked cohorts based on sales motion: B2B or B2C. The goal of this is to match members more specifically with other members, so the huddles are more valuable to them because they can more easily empathize with each other. Already done.
New Welcoming Process. Ask for new folks to commit to 3 Sales huddle and place them in a huddle that will be best for them, based on their backgrounds, goals, and business. Do this in a way that services the member. I think this will also help to solve and filter out those folks that might have joined, but would not have engaged. Already done.
Pay at 3 Huddles versus 5. Already done.
Reach out to inactive members. Reach out to members that are not active, check in, and figure out why. If they’d like to join, share with them that new folks are required to commit to 3 Sales Huddles.
Welcoming + profiles. I can do a better job at creating profiles for new members and announcing new members as they join. I think this will provide a more human connection to existing members, so folks will feel less in the dark.
Increase standard price. It’s clear to me that $300/year is a great price and that even $500/year is a great price and could be too low and not matching the brand. I’m thinking more than $500 and less then $1000 will be the price, only allow annual members so folks are committed.
6. Themes and critical questions
While many things are clear: vision, meeting structure, here are themes that are consistency coming up around the best way to implement the vision. Here are themes and questions that have come up that I’m do not have the answer for.
Growth vs Serve
I think that scale for scales sake is a fool’s errand. I think the question always is, how does this service the mission of the business and it’s customers? I ask myself, will having more members service the existing members as much as the new ones? In addition to this, what might need to shift to make that true AND does this shift decrease the value of the core service?
What provides value to members? Moderation, frequency of meeting, experience sales people as members
My sense is that there are scenarios where more members will add value, be neutral, and also subtract value.
One of my main responsibilities is to understand what is valuable, so more members, and any change frankly, will be adding value or being neutral at the least.
Here’s some examples when providing more members would ADD to the value of all members.
Easier to get support, because there’s more members, there are more frequent meetings.
Better perspective and more diversity. More members means that the network has more experience to draw from across different industries, roles, and experiences.
Better moderation. By having more members, there’s more payment to have the best moderators.
Here’s example of subtracting
Get more more members, allow anyone in, and new members doesn’t match the existing ones and work rounds become less valuable.
Having more members means that each members get poorer support.
Growth tries to happen so quickly that resources go more to growth versus supporting existing members.
Similar vs different
The interesting part of the peer to peer aspect is that it requires both similarity and differences within the entire network AND more importantly within a specific Sales Huddle. The question is how much the same? How much different?
The sameness is what creates trust and cohesion, we are similar enough to help each other. The differences WITHIN the sameness is what creates value, if we were all exactly the same, no one could give anyone advice, because no ‘transfer’ could happen.
Here’s some of the things I’ve noticed are similar an different.
High level of experience
Actively want to share, contribute, and help others.
Specific job role
B2b vs b2c
Number of people in a sales huddle
Currently, I do not know what the perfect match is of similar and different. I’m working to figure this out.
Control vs Random
Similar, yet a little different, to the same vs different question. One thing I’m not sure is how much to allow a user to control their experience vs how much should be random.
Items that can be controlled or be random:
See who is in the sales huddle before
Select to be in huddle with new vs existing people
Select the type of huddle
Moderation: Members vs Paid
For the short term, ill be the moderator, but I do not see this lasting forever.
One of the questions I have is should the moderator be a member position, something that a member can elect to do? Or should it be a paid position?
It’s not clear to me how I’d know if it was one or the other.
7. Long Term Vision and Product
Here’s what I’m seeing as the long term vision of the business and the product.
Sales Huddle, and Huddles in general are about providing professions access to community and a trusted peer-to-peer network where they can get an outside perspective.
I’d like to focus exclusively on Sales for the foreseeable future.
Here’s what I think 2019 will look like
30 VIP members
20 Standard members
50 total members
Technology will stay analog
I’ll add product features over time as long as it does not increase my admin work, since everything is manual. I can see adding more features around Welcoming new members, bringing folks out of the dark and doing more handpicking and matching making between members.
Q1. Building technology platform to facilitate Sales huddles. I’m most excited about building this because I’ll get to build it with the members. Some features could include:
automated creation and running Sales Huddles
reviews of Sales huddles like airbnb has for stays
member endorsements based on interactions in sales huddle, like Linkedin endorsements.
keeping a log of work statements and advice given, so folks can refer to it in the past
Sales Huddle recordings available to use
Ability to select sales huddle by sales motion, members with litle contact, or members with a lot of contact.
Onboard all existing members into new platform
Add 100 more members
A key thing will be understanding how many members come each week, this will determine the moderating capacity. Potentially, Ill have to hire a moderator.
Who knows?! I cannot think this far in advance and frankly have a hard time trusting that anyone can predict two years. In general, I’d like to continue focused on building out an experienced network of salespeople, listening to them and serving them. I can see a day when Sales Huddle becoming a defect utility service for salespeople, like Linkedin pro. 10k, 100k members.