Brock Benefiel's posts

Brock is currently working on a book about Midwest startups. He's our resident writer at Visible and he helps companies drive measurable results through audience analytics, SEO, social and content strategy.

Why you Should Rank Your Investors

You do a lot of work for your investors. Regular updates keep your board abreast of the latest company developments and current performance metrics. Monthly or quarterly meetings keep you accountable to their questions and concerns. You’re expected to answer their inquiries in a timely and satisfying manner. All of that accountability is wonderful, but it should also work both ways. One of the most valuable aspects of your investor updates is the opportunity it provides founders to make targeted asks of their VCs. After all, you chose these folks on the strength of their experience, capital and network. Accessing those resources with a focused request can be one of the best ways to improve your business. But inevitably, some investors will be better than others when it comes to tapping…

How do you Determine Proper Compensation for Startup CEOs and Early Employees?

Raise capital, update investors and engage your team from a single platform. Try Visible free for 14 days.   Quick Navigation Startup CEO salary breakdown by industry Startup CEO salary breakdown by funding stage How to determine a startup CEO salary How to determine startup employees salary Are your investors on board? For first-time founders and leaders of early-stage startups, determining compensation for the CEO and early employees can be tough. On one hand, you need to hire the best talent, retain them, and incentivize their performance to have the right team in place to grow. As a founder and/or CEO, you also want to pay yourself enough to get by and prevent money from being an unnecessary distraction. On the other hand, you need to keep cash in the…

5 Key Takeaways from 3Q Venture Capital Investing Reports

A guest post written by Brock Benefiel. Brock is a digital marketing consultant, tech writer, and author of the upcoming book Flyover Startups.    Third quarter venture capital investing showed the remarkable shifts of recent years now look like the new normal. New reports on venture capital investing in the third quarter of 2018 showed a market that continues to undergo rapid transformation and record-setting growth. PwC/CB Insights MoneyTree, Crunchbase and Pitchbook/NVCA Venture Monitor all published 3Q reports that analyzed investment data both in the U.S. and abroad and highlighted the continued trend toward bigger and bigger deals. Here are the main takeaways:   The U.S. is on pace to surpass $100 billion Investments in 3Q neared $28 billion in the U.S. alone, bringing the 2018 total as of September 30 to…

Why You’re Doing SDR Onboarding Wrong (Part 1)

A guide to avoid the common mistakes and capitalize on opportunities with your new reps written by Brock Benefiel. Brock is a Digital Marketing Consultant, Tech Writer, and Author of the upcoming book Flyover Startups.  Because they are often the least experienced group working in a tech company (or working at all), SDRs are some of the hardest employees to train. And in the short-term, they are some of the least valuable employees to train and will only be a cost burden on your company in the early days. “The average new sales rep at a SaaS company takes 5.3 months to reach full productivity,” Steli Efti writes. “That’s almost half a year where your business is actually losing money per rep.” Yikes, right? But unless you’re entirely new to sales development,…

What do Investors Care About When it Comes to Culture?

A post by Brock Benefiel. Brock is a Digital Marketing Consultant, Tech Writer, and Author of the upcoming book Flyover Startups. Everyone finds time to talk up culture. You can find literally tens of millions of articles preaching the importance of establishing the right startup culture and enforcing it. If you’d like, you can spend endlessly amounts of time reading up on it and hear over and over again why it matters. But you’ll never have enough time to talk to your investors about culture. Instead, you’ll be forced in board meetings and company reviews to get straight to the point if you want to convey what’s important about your all-important company culture. So speak the language of your investors: use metrics, cite examples and show change. Your passion for…

Do Your Investors Need to Match Your Values?

A post by Brock Benefiel. Brock is a Digital Marketing Consultant, Tech Writer, and Author of the upcoming book Flyover Startups. Recent high-profile tech controversies have put ethics under the microscope. What role do investors play in a company’s values and how do you fill your boardroom with people on your side? As a founder, you own the values of your business. You may not own all the shares of the company but the ethics and guidelines that govern your startup will always be your responsibility. You’ve got to protect what you’ve created so it’s necessary to do what you can to assert your control. This can cause some real headaches if you’re forced to grapple ethical dilemmas with difficult investors. Founders may find themselves with financial backers that are…

What Does a Bad Sales Hire Really Cost Your Startup?

How to Avoid a Bad Sales Hire It’s a dilemma for any company: your growing startup begins to face increasingly aggressive quarterly goals and the pressure is on to scale your sales team to meet the growing needs. Why is growth a challenge? It increases your chances of making the wrong hire. According to Mindflash, 38 percent of all bad hires come from companies looking to fill a position quickly. Another 21 percent blamed an inability to test or research the employee’s skills well enough while another 11 percent pinned the bad hire on the company’s failure to check out references. Each scenario screams out a company pulling the trigger too quickly to fill a spot. This can be an especially deadly concern when it comes to your sales team.…

Why Sales Enablement Matters

If sales enablement helps maximize your company’s efficiency and effectiveness, ignoring the importance of this training is essentially disregarding the need for real growth. But sales enablement isn’t as sexy as product improvements. There aren’t demo days to showcase a new hire training course. There are real metrics to track, but the relatively new discipline can still be a little vague. And in age where some argue that your software should be so good it sells itself, why not invest in new features rather than sales enablement? Why not bypass optimizing outbound efforts and implement irresistible new features instead? Because your organization will always be in the business of convincing customers why they need your solution, not just what it offers if you wish to scale effectively. “Even though the…

How is the Role of Sales Enablement Changing?

Within a matter of years, sales enablement has rapidly changed from simply a topic of conversation to a vital part of any growing organization. Now, new leadership roles are being created in companies to drive sales enablement performance. The conversation around the future of SaaS even seems to be driven by the work of these nascent teams of trainers. What’s changed? While still a somewhat ambiguous term defined in different ways by individual organizations, the focus of sales enablement teams to better identify underlying product, sales and marketing obstacles and introduce more effective solution is an unavoidable function of growth in any B2B environment. A focus on effectiveness To earn that level of effectiveness, it will require attracting talent in a relatively new area of expertise. As Brian Lambert of…

3 Metrics to Track to Start Sales Enablement

The success—or lack thereof—of a sales enablement team isn’t the easiest to track because the area itself isn’t always clearly defined. When a scaling company develops its initial sales enablement strategy, it’s often a struggle to determine exactly what the organization needs to focus on first. And that lack of clarity can present a real problem. “Enablement means something different in every company,” Katie MacDonald, global sales onboarding and enablement manager at Optimizely, said. “A lot of companies think they need enablement. But if there is not a clear understanding of the purpose of sales enablement, it can die very quickly.” So how do you start? Simply.  Focus first on a handful of easy-to-identify valuable functions that drive performance in a sales organization. Here are three great ways to start:…

How to Set up a System for SDR Success

Measuring productivity and finding the right number of hires is a key to succeed Last week, I touched on the paradox that exists in a SaaS world largely celebratory of the role SDRs play in a growing sales team: many boast of the value, few invest in the execution. But the mere addition of a SDR team can increase lead conversion by 35 percent and free up account executives (AEs) to focus on closing deals. That’s an unavoidably big advantage if you’ve created a process that avoids unnecessary pitfalls. This week, I want to drill down to the actual SDR work that’s needed to determine how teams can succeed and how many SDRs are needed to hit goals. There’s little doubt that a SDR team helps AEs focus on hitting quotas. Whether…

Why do SDRs Fail?

4 questions to answer that help you avoid prospecting woes when you start specializing sales roles If we measured online chatter alone around sales development in scaling companies, I’d be hard pressed to think of many opinions that earn greater approval than the importance of segmenting your funnel and specializing roles to increase your bookings. Everywhere I look it seems my favorite thought-leaders in the industry are singing the praises of sales specialization roles. Yet a survey last year revealed that just over half (51%) the companies asked segmented inbound qualification and outbound prospecting into separate roles. Where’s the disconnect? I can’t think of any sales leader in any organization I’ve talked to in the past few years that isn’t at least mulling over strategies to optimize the funnel through specialization. But…

Are Your Marketing Efforts Really Enabling Sales Performance?

A couple weeks ago, I attended High Alpha’s marketing forum and was reminded by one of the speakers of the simple, yet remarkable function of all marketing efforts: enable sales to close more deals. That doesn’t mean marketing plays a subservient role when sitting at the table with sales executives, but it does serve a measurable purpose and it’s time marketing is held to a regular revenue commitment. So how do we help marketing help sales? Specific directives and clear goals. Here are some questions you need to ask your team to make sure they’re moving in the right direction. Is your content really king? Easily one of the greatest tools marketing can provide sales with is valuable, in-depth content that establishes the company as an authority and the product…

How to Determine if Your Channel Partners are Actually Working

When your startup hits growth stage, scaling the number of sales from channel partners is a no-brainer. For one, the customer acquisition costs are lower. A 2014 survey showed that companies spent about $0.53 for every $1 it attracted in new annual contract value (ACV)—almost half of what is spent on field sales: $1.02. Sales from channel partners also allow you to secure deals without scaling staff. Furthermore, your partners are likely hitting different customer and geographies. As Tomasz Tunguz notes, new channels diversify acquisition efforts “insulating the bookings number from the episodic underperformance typical of a single channel go-to-market.” That produces more predictable revenue and a greater multiple when you’re ready to raise money or sell the company. At first look, growing partner sales seems like the closest thing…

Are you Measuring Product Qualified Leads?

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the best ways to ensure a healthy sales funnel is to reevaluate the quality of your leads. Better leads produce better results. And taking a product-first approach to qualifying leads can help optimize your funnel. But first, let’s look back at how Categorizing leads Instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach, qualify your leads by placing each in three separate categories:  “organization-level,” “opportunity-level,” and “stakeholder-level.” Then ask specific questions that will determine if your product actually fits their needs or if this is a customer destined for failure. This filter alone can save your customer success team a great deal of headaches in the future. Types of lead qualifications Beyond categorizing leads, it’s important to assess where your leads are coming from and what teams…

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