Author: Hitesh Saijpal
A good sales strategy can make or break a new company. Even with an incredible product and overwhelming market demand, if you don’t have the right sales strategy you won’t be able to find and keep your customers. That’s why this week, we hosted our first ever sales workshop for Cisco Investments’ portfolio companies. Ten global companies joined us, either at Cisco’s headquarters in San Jose or virtually over WebEx, to discuss how to find their customers, figure out their partner strategy, and build a successful sales team.
Having spent a majority of my sixteen years at Cisco in sales, it’s always been my passion. I was incredibly excited to start working with our portfolio companies and startups, to hear their questions about building a sales team and help them figure out what to do next.
For this inaugural sales workshop, we invited Britt Norwood, Director of West Area Commercial Sales at Cisco, to speak. Britt spent over an hour with our portfolio companies, outlining four basic fundamentals for creating a sales strategy at a new company. He shared some great tips based on his own experience from more than two decades in sales. He also had multiple lessons from his current role managing a team of over 150 Cisco salespeople – including his focus on building the right culture for his sales teams alongside putting a rigorous sales process into place. As he put it, “culture eats strategy every day of the week.”
Throughout Britt’s presentation, our startups had a lot of questions for him around how to learn about who your customers are as an early stage company, how to scale a salesforce, and when to start engaging with partners. It prompted some great discussion between these entrepreneurs on tips they’ve used in current and former companies to drive growth. We also shared several options for how our portfolio companies can best partner with Cisco.
As the workshop came to a close, each startup reiterated how valuable they found the advice. My team took several action items to follow-up with portfolio companies individually to provide them more support and potentially new avenues to partner with Cisco. I’m excited that this workshop will be the first of many to come.