I’ve overheard people say that sales and marketing is in the DNA of the Atlanta Tech Village. It’s true, have a sales and growth focused culture. Our community thrives when a smart product-focused entrepreneur starts building a business development engine around a great product. This leads to a discussion we’ve been having a lot lately:
For a product-focused entrepreneur, can you teach the hungry, scrappy, do-anything mentality that it takes to get customer traction as soon as possible?
Put another way, can you teach Adam Wexlering, Kyle Portering, Devon Wijesinghing, and Jon Birdsonging?
These 4 guys are the ultra hungry hustlers that every growth entrepreneur should want to be. They are machines. Each one of them has a special way of getting their foot, hand, and well, their whole body in the door where they need to go. If you could combine them into a single entrepreneurial selling machine, you would end up with something like this:
This is the Devastator robot— when all the Transformers combined to make one giant super robot.
Here are some of the weapons used by the four super hustlers:
Kyle Porter, the master growth hacker.
Top skill: Getting masses of people excited about what he wants them to be excited about.
Story: Kyle Porter, of Salesloft fame, is quickly become a professional growth hacker. He knows how to get content on any site, any day of the week and how to get it to pull people back to his own site to sign up for something. He also knows how to plan and execute awesome events like B2BCamp. How many people do you know who can gather 200+ people on a Saturday morning to hear a sales pitch? Sure, B2BCamp is more than a Salesloft User Group meeting. Sure it is.
Nugget: As Kyle walks down the street, panhandlers give him money.
Wexlerbombing. Happens worldwide.
Top Skill: Getting a pitch with anybody, anywhere, any time.
Story: Adam Wexler (Insightpool) is becoming famous for this. It has been said that when Wexler decides he needs to find someone and pitch them, that he doesn’t sleep until his mission is accomplished. I’ve heard stories of offering to share hotel rooms with prospects. No prospect is too far. He will fly, drive, even swim. He’s the master of CouchSurfing. I’ve been at parties 10 states away, invitation only, with presidential security and suddenly Wexler drops in, smiling and asking “Who’s here that I need to know?”
Nugget: The US State Department doesn’t require Wexler to have his photograph on his passport.
Just say Devon. Everyone knows who you’re talking about.
Top skill: Operating in the Atlanta startup world like a mob boss. (A friendly one, of course).
Story: Devon Wijesinghe knows everyone. He has a unique skill of building an extremely high powered network and then capitalizing on it. He goes for the ask early and often. And he does it in a way that doesn’t offend the person being asked. What’s more impressive is that if any of us tried to pull off the asks that Devon drops, we would quickly become the least popular guy on the block. Yet he continues to work his network like a master and his companies are in a constant motion forward because of it.
Nugget: When Devon drives a car off the lot, it increases in value.
Jon Birdsong, the one and only.
Top skill: Making your feel like he is your best friend.
Story: I am Jon Birdsong’s (Rivalry.com) best friend. Doesn’t matter what you say. If he has something for me to buy, I would buy it. But wait, everybody feels this way about Birdsong. Everybody is JonnyBird’s best friend! He’s the nicest guy in town. (And yes, JonnyBird for Mayor is something we should all get used to hearing). What’s awesome about JonnyBird– he knows how to turn nice into contracts. He may be the fastest product-startup-to-first-paying-customer record in the Village. Why JonnyBird is a 1% awesome growth entrepreneur: he is genuine. He’s as genuine as they come. If you feel like he likes you, it’s because he really does like you. What you see is what you get. My favorite Birdsong story is when he was selling to a VP of sales who ran out of time for their meeting in Atlanta and tried to cancel. So Jon offered to meet him at his office, ride with him to the airport (selling all the way), drop him off at the terminal, return his rental car, and catch Marta back to the Village. Yep, he closed that deal.
Nugget: When Jon dines out, he tips an astonishing 200%.
There’s a lot more to being a growth entrepreneur than the stats of cold calls, demos, meetings. It’s a unique skill set that makes up these guys and I enjoy learning from them every day. If you have a startup in Atlanta and don’t know all four of these guys, I’d suggest you find a way to get to know them better. Learn from them. The good news is– it’s easy to find them. So easy in fact, that they will likely find you first.