After a brief Thanksgiving break, we returned this week to Columbia Business School where Brian Distelburger, President and Co-Founder of Yext, offered his Top 3 Yext Sales Lessons. Before we jump in, a little more about Brian. Prior to co-founding Yext in 2006, he founded Consumer Digital where he served as Chief Marketing Officer. Beginning in September, 2012, he served as Chairman of Food Genius, a privately held food service data provider, before the business was sold in April, 2016, to US Foods. Here are his Top 3 Yext Sales Lessons for companies looking to scale:
1. Look For Salespeople With Something To Prove And A Plan To Do It. As Brian has been building Yext, the most successful salespeople he’s found are the ones with a chip on their shoulder and with something to prove. These sellers are the ones with “that fire and drive.” As Yext continues to grow, Brian needs people that are self-sufficient and the most successful salespeople tend to be the ones who are “used to figuring it out and doing it on their own.” Interestingly, another attribute Brain looks for in salespeople is that they “fundamentally want to make money.” Brian will often ask in an interview how much a salesperson wants to make in a year, but he follows that up with, “How are you thinking about getting there?” The salespeople who will perform the best and who will make “good individual contributors” are the ones who are thoughtful about it. “They have genuine thoughts about how they’re going to get there [and] what it’s going to take.”
2. Look For Managers That Are Unflappable. For managers, Brian wants someone with a salesperson’s attributes, but more so than elsewhere, Brian looks for someone who’s “largely unflappable.” Over Yext’s history, the most successful sales managers have been the ones who can “handle a lot and tolerate a lot with a lot of different things coming at them and boil it down into what’s important.” A tree grows from the ground up, but dies from the top down. This is particularly true in sales orgs, and as such, Brian makes it a point to find the most capable managers who can individually “figure out how to prioritize and focus on the right stuff.”
3. The Right Culture Is Crucial. “Culture beats strategy all day everyday, its not even a fair fight or anything.” More than once Brian has been in a position where he’s had to choose between hiring a salesperson who’s going to crush his or her numbers but is likely to have “sharp elbows” with other salespeople and detract from a team atmosphere. In such situations, Brian sides firmly with culture. “Getting the culture right, getting the team right, particularly for a sales org, [and] having the right energy across the team kills strategy. It’s way more important.”
Given Yext’s remarkable success thus far and Brian’s integral role as Co-Founder and President in shaping the company, his insights on finding determined salespeople and sales managers and focusing on culture should be very important considerations for any company looking to scale.
If you liked “The Top 3 Yext Sales Lessons From The Company’s President” and want to read more content from the Bowery Capital Team, check out other relevant posts from the Bowery Capital Blog. Special thanks to Robbie Linck for his help with this post.