Aron Vuijsje is the Director of Sales at monday.com, managing their sales team in Israel. He was their first salesperson and built their teams in Tel Aviv and in New York. We discuss how Aron built a sales team fit to scale through a sales culture that rewards collaboration and a willingness to take risks.
We found out that Aron is super passionate about sales and the whole enablement process, but before his high-tech career, he had a background in people - everything from martial arts to fitness and wellbeing. These passions have survived his fast-paced career. The thread that ties it all together is his investment in people and their success. And ironically, he ended up at monday.com, which brings people together to collaborate around a common workspace.
Building a Sales Team Pre-IPO
- We asked Aron what was the defining moment before monday.com's IPO when they realized they needed to change and build a process that was fit for purpose. Aron shared that the awakening moment started pretty early, but it wasn't connected to the IPO. It was never really the goal to IPO. Their intention was to become a great company, but it wasn’t because their goal was to IPO at a specific moment.
- Aron started in a customer success role before there was even a sales team in the early days. They are a product-led organization, so he spoke with the CEO and the CTO and became the first salesperson with 50% of his time to see if it made sense. Monday.com got to 10,000 teams without having a sales team, with just their product, marketing, and customer success teams. They saw a big change the moment Aron started focusing on really helping organizations collaborate, instead of teams. That allowed them to get full companies on board.
- One thing Aron learned while building their sales teams is you need to consistently change and you need to build an environment where people are comfortable with change. Every time the organization grows, there are tons of changes that need to take place, especially if you have aggressive goals to take risks and grow quickly.
- Not being afraid to make mistakes is the best way to learn quickly. At monday.com, their philosophy is it’s better to do something quick and learn from your mistakes than work on something for ages, then present it to a customer and realize that you did it absolutely wrong. This philosophy is also seen in their product and how it allows organizations to build, manage and run all of their work processes on a day-to-day basis; it allows everybody to customize the work processes that work best for them. With one source of truth, everybody is able to work in a very transparent and collaborative manner.
- Working with many different platforms creates silos and that makes it very hard to collaborate and see the bigger picture. Monday.com allows people to either integrate the platforms that are really crucial to the organization or to replace platforms by managing those processes in monday. The software does that by offering users many different building blocks to build any type of workflow for different types of projects.
- The type of platform agility Aron describes means they could be very dependent on their developers. They would need to wait for the developers to build out the platform as needed which creates a bottleneck. In many cases, the real workflow experts are people doing the work, not necessarily the people building the platform. By creating a low-code no-code platform, the power is in the hands of any employee to be able to build the workflows that fit their team best.
Creating a Robust Sales Process Fit for Scale
- We asked what were the additional steps and technologies they needed to create a robust sales process that was fit for scale? What were those steps and what practical decisions did Aron need to make?
- Aron shares that it comes back to collaboration. They needed to have significant control over anything that they do, including their sales tools. Not only using Gmail, but for example, having the ability to use Salesforce, having the ability to use SalesLoft, having the ability to use enrichment tools, such as full contact Clearbit, ZoomInfo, using Gong on a day to day basis to be able to listen to the calls and analyze information. And, they improved collaboration by using DealHub to create a very smooth process to both create and send the sales orders. When becoming a public company there are additional regulations that you need to adhere to. As an organization, they really focus on still keeping everything as transparent and flexible as possible, but at the same time, they need to make sure that things go through the right approval processes. Aron says that's something that DealHub helps a lot with, if it is a certain deal size or if they ask for a specific exception, it allows their sales team to immediately route to the right person and the right approval process quickly and smoothly similar to monday.com’s way of collaborating in context.
- Aron shares an example, “If I ask something through Slack and then through email and later on, you need to go back and actually look at what happens, it's really difficult to see the full-on process. And that's how DealHub is really helping us. It puts on a really smooth process through the procurement process and the creation of the sales orders and approval processes. So that's something that we're using.”
Building a Successful Sales Team Without Bonus Incentives
- In their sales compensation plan, monday.com doesn't necessarily reward their salespeople on a bonus incentive type of system. So we asked, how is it possible to build such a wildly successful company that’s revenue positive and has gone to IPO without incentivizing their sales leaders to be lone wolves? What is the culture? What is the mindset? How did he get buy-in?
- Aron says they definitely incentivize and reward. But, they stay away from using individual commission models in their sales compensation plan. To build positive sales culture, you need to have an organization that people feel is their family. You're at work a lot of the time of your day, so it's important to have an environment where you feel comfortable, where you work together, where you collaborate. And that's really one of the things that they promote as a platform and also what they promote internally.
- Once they started the sales team, collaboration was pretty important throughout the organization. Aron wondered, “How can we build a sales team that really collaborates, that works together, that takes the best care of our customers?” They wanted to make sure they maintained the really strong service they had already established from the customer success side. They wanted to build on top of it by helping organizations to grow by optimizing their processes with the platform. One of the things that allows them to attract talent is that they have a great platform and a great company that focuses on the professional development of our employees. They see very low turnover. They are rewarded in many different ways. For example, there is a gong they hit when somebody closes a big deal.
- They also have a Slack channel for all of the deals that come through that everybody in the organization can see. They show salespeople how they're doing great work. And it doesn't always necessarily mean closing a deal. There are many other aspects that have allowed them to build a great organization and a great culture. For example, it's not always the highest performing reps that are also the best sales managers or that are the first people that go to promotion. Often it's actually the people that excel in their role and help the organization as a whole who are better suited for promotion.
Creating a Positive Sales Culture
- As an example of fostering a positive sales culture, Aron says, “If I see a sales rep that really only focuses on himself and it allows him to get to 200% of his targets and I see another rep that to get to 150% of his targets, he pulls three other of his colleagues with him, allowing them to get from 70% of target to a hundred percent of targets, financially it's is better for the organization because in the end that 30% from all three reps is more significant, but also it allows us to consistently maintain strong reps, really create a culture where people want to help each other. If somebody has a good email template, they'll be happy to share it with the rest of the organization. If somebody needs help on their sales goals, the colleagues are happy to hop on that call. Somebody closes a deal people are generally happy for each other. And it just creates such a different environment.” On top of this, they also share options with all of the employees in the organization.
- Some of this seems intangible, helping out colleagues, so we asked how he’s tracking that from a data point of view in terms of internal communications. Aron shares that one of the things he’s working on now is to create a sales training video of how they manage their one-on-one processes, how they manage their team meetings. How that connects back to this topic is you need to create an environment where the rep knows that he can really come to you and speak about what is working, what is not working, but also what is he doing on a day-to-day basis.
- Aron has a monday board where he manages all of his one-on-ones with. He has 30-minute one-on-one meetings every week. The first part of the meeting is focused on the numbers: where they are in hitting targets and sales pipeline reviews. The second part is on professional development and building the relationship with his reps. In the meetings, he asks ”What are you doing beyond just hitting the targets? So what are other responsibilities that you take in the organization?”
- Their salespeople are asked to contribute different responsibilities to empower their entire team, to show what they can do beyond the individual contributor role, which also helps them get a good understanding of who is ready to go to a different position, whether that is a managerial position or doing sales enablement.
- Aron advises to create the conversation with every one of your reps and make it clear to them to not be afraid that they're bragging. You can distinguish bragging from somebody that's actually sharing, what do I do? Why am I doing it? Why is this important to me to get to that next level of my professional career? And I think those things are so much more important. People usually leave organizations because they can't live off the salary which is obviously a problem, or because the culture didn't work well. They didn't feel appreciated and they didn't feel that there's growth.
Hiring for the Sales Role
- We asked Aron about the hiring process for the sales role. A corporate salesperson from Silicon Valley 10 years ago might have been a bit cutthroat, defending their pipeline and their deals. But as Aron describes his team, it sounds more like he is hiring harmonizers, collaborators. It goes back to the culture. They know they have a platform that really helps people. They don’t need to push to be able to show the value the platform gives organizations.
- One of the questions Aron asks in interviews is, “What do you outside of work?” In his experience, the most successful people in the organization are not the people who only do work. It's people that are passionate, people have a side project, that learned another language, or became extremely good in cooking or whatever it is that their passion is around. Of course they ask about managing the sales cycle. But they also ask, “Give me an example of how you collaborate with other departments. How do you collaborate with other colleagues?”
- At Monday, Aron recognizes that without the help of the marketing team the leads wouldn't be good enough to be successful. Without the R&D team, they wouldn't have the product they have today that allows them to sell something that they truly believe in. Without the customer success team, they wouldn't have really happy customers that are consistently seeing more value out of the platform. This connects to every single department in the organization.
- Aron’s not looking for sharks, he’s looking for smart people that can be very creative, that know how to control the sales cycle. And that know how to consult organizations, to help them to really create the value, improve their processes. Learning from and teaching customers day-to-day helps them become better sales professionals because they're not going for shortcuts. They're creating a sustainable long-term relationship. And that's what makes an organization great. Monday is looking for partnerships, long-term relationships, happy clients; that's a huge focus from the organization as a whole.
Monday.com’s Proprietary Data - BigBrain
- A focus on data is a big part of Monday’s DNA and its growth trajectory. There's a great video on YouTube around monday.com’s proprietary data, BigBrain. The name is brilliant because it's really the big brain of the organization. They’re very data-oriented. Everything is AB tested. Everything is checked from not just new features that release, but also what is the impact from the sales team? If you're not consistently challenging yourself, if you're not consistently testing, if you're not putting yourself a vulnerable position of “what if the result actually means that we are not doing that well,” you'll never get better.
Post-IPO Learning About Building a Sales Team
- Looking at building teams, one of the big things that Aron learned is about his tendency to be perfectionistic. So in the beginning, he was the first salesperson then he hired five people. Then he said, “If they don't hit their target I just double my targets or triple my target. And I'll be involved in absolutely everything because I want to make sure that it goes perfectly.” He quickly realized that's not sustainable. You're holding the people back and you won't be able to grow.
- When he built the team in the US, he immediately knew how important it is to take the first hires, the first sales reps and empower them to help with building the team and making them a big part of the process, utilizing them to help other people on the team. Knowing that he cannot do all sales activities himself allowed him to grow quickly and do it successfully.
- Seeing one of his reps becoming the head of sales enablement makes Aron happy. Seeing reps that become managers, seeing people moving from an SDR position to an AE position or to sales enablement position, seeing them grow throughout their career paths to the end destination that they want, is his reward.
- If a manager manages his team really well and they hit great numbers, that credit should go to them. The biggest lesson is in being able to create somebody that's so strong that now builds out the whole team, that closes big deals, that is continuing that great pass to everybody else in the organization. In the end, things will run much better if you delegate and empower the people in your team to take responsibility, to take risks, to be creative.
- If something goes wrong, that's okay. You'll learn from it and improve later on. That's really what Aron saw by consistently learning. Everybody is pulling a really heavy part of the weight. Everybody's coming with extremely creative and great ideas of how we can improve the process. They got great arguments from people within the teams and they understood the importance of it. And that's what allowed them to change.
- Another important lesson Aron learned is to not get stuck in processes, like, "Oh, this is the way that it is. And that's how it should be forever.” Things change all the time. Create an environment that is open to listen and learn from everybody in the organization. And if you see that something makes sense, do it. Put your pride away and go for it.
About the podcast
The RevAmp podcast derives from two words: Revenue + Amplification. This series has been produced specifically to give a voice to the sales and revenue operations professionals who have invaluable experiences to share. We have seen the scope for this role, as well as the recognition, expectations, and tools have rapidly changed over the last couple of years. The reality is that there are not enough high-quality resources for fellow professionals to use as a benchmark or learning curve. DealHub knows how important it is to be well resourced so we have put together this RevAmp podcast for your benefit.
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