BTM Event Video: Salesloft CEO Kyle Porter – What skills did you need to develop to grow from a sales person into a successful CEO?

Building the Sales Machine (BTM) Event Series: we post clips of the best questions that where answered during our live events, so you can take the best ideas back to your teams and companies for further discussion.

BTM: What skills did you need to develop to grow from a sales person into a successful CEO?

Kyle Porter:

A sales person is the closest job to that of an entrepreneur inside of a growing company.  It’s the roll where you own your own destiny the most. The number one thing you have to have is this relentless pursuit to make it happen.  You won’t give up no matter what, you’ll dogedly make it happen.  Fortunately, I had that gene inside of me.

What I didn’t have was that I didn’t understand software development. I’m sure a lot of people in the room don’t understand software development, it’s ok not to. As a sales person, I didn’t understand the culture of an engineering organization.  I didn’t understand prioritization, or product management philosophy, or that there’s only so much you can do in a given amount of time. That really hurt the company.

As a relentless guy that can sell anything, my approach scattered the engineering team all over the place.  I focused on build, build, build, build, build. If you’re in sales today, and one day you want to start a company, you really have to understand product development or have a side kick that does.  That was the number 1 reason we crashed into the ground.

Now, the number 2 reason was different.  Think to yourself right now about how you think people should behave in a startup? How do you feel people should operate and act?  What are the inside morales and ideas that you have.  You have to inject those things into the decisions of your business.

So I had ideas around how people should behave or which things should be valued.  But I failed to take a syringe and inject those ideas into the core values of the company.  So I had people I hired and thought might be good, but the culture spun out of control.  People did what they thought was right, but not what I thought was right. On the reboot, one year after starting the company, we started it from scratch.  I knew I was going to do 2 things wildly different.

  1. I’m going to figure out this project management stuff, and I’m going to bring someone in that understands it.
  2. I’m going to inject my core values into the heart and soul of this business.  I’ll use them to hire people, fire people, to promote, reprimand, praise.