Jul 13, 2022
8 mins read

Scaling your business: Lessons we’ve learned

This article has been brought to you by our spend management editorial team.Payhawk Editorial Team
Quick summary

Scaling your business is no mean feat, particularly in such a competitive hiring market. Our VP of Commercial, Paul Albert, summarises some of the lessons we’ve learnt that have enabled us to scale up fast.

Table of Contents

    If you’ve got big business growth plans, it’s easy to let them overwhelm you. And we can empathise, we started the year with 32 people in our sales organisation, and we plan to reach 240 employees by the end of the next quarter. That’s a growth increase of 650%.

    You can read all the tips and advice you want about scaling your business, but putting it into practice is entirely different. That’s why, in this two-part series, I’m summarising my talk from SaaStr Europa this June and sharing some of the lessons we’ve learned to help you structure your business for growth.

    Build infrastructure quickly to scale up your business

    According to data from BizSmart, 46% of business owners recognise they don’t have the right staff in place to support growth. Growth and staffing are big problems that many of us are facing, especially when growing in multiple locations.

    But how do you build the team you need to support your growth quickly? One of the first steps should be to partner with local recruitment agencies. We partnered with several local agencies across Europe to help us address the nuances of hiring in multiple countries, simultaneously.

    It’s not about picking the agency with the most reviews, but an agency that aligns with and understands your culture as a business. You’ll want to spend time understanding your own culture and what values you stand for because if you don’t know what you value, how will you find partnerships that match up? It’s simple — you won’t.

    For example, we model our culture at Payhawk on a professional sports team. We want to attract and retain a mixture of A players and B players — with the potential to become A players. We needed to work alongside an agency that understood our employee value proposition thoroughly so they could go out and approach prospective candidates looking to join a culture like ours.

    We interviewed a lot of agencies to ensure we found the best fit. Then, we figured out the prioritisation — we have a lot of very different roles to fill, from account execs to customer support, so we needed a partnership where we got the most bang for our buck.

    How five scaleup customers took control of spend to drive growth

    Refining your hiring process is key to business growth

    What works for one company will most likely not work for another — this is something I learned early on. That’s why it’s important to loop back to understanding your core values, as they’ll help you shape your hiring process. When scaling your business, everything stems from your core values.

    A refined hiring process is vital to the success of your hiring strategy. You can hire the right recruitment agency, but the process is turned over to you when it comes to interviewing, which is an equally important stage.

    Interviewing these candidates must consist of more than following a standardised question-answer process. Instead, it needs to test that the candidate has the crucial skills and characteristics you’ve identified for the position.

    Let’s say you’ve identified four traits for a sales rep role. The four traits are:

    • Coachability
    • Confidence
    • Active listening
    • Resilience

    How do you uncover these traits in the interview process? — You find a way to test them.

    In Mark Roberge’s book The Sales Acceleration Formula, he suggests that to uncover coachability, you take someone through a roleplay, give them critical feedback and ask them to do it again and see how they incorporate it.

    Here’s an example of one of the things we do with our business development representatives (BDRs). We give them a scenario to test their intuition, intelligence, and initiative. We say you have four leads from four different verticals — how will you prioritise going after them, and why? See how they assess it in a real-world application.

    We also want to test how prepared they are. Aside from their intelligence, we want to see how they would approach a scenario and what they would do to get ready. We want to check if they know the competitors and understand our personas.

    At Payhawk, we identify four critical characteristics — on top of the core characteristics — for each role: work ethic, intelligence/processing power, coachability (low ego), and being data-driven. To do this initially, we rated our entire sales org on certain characteristics and tied that to performance. We then did (light) regression analysis to look at which characteristics drove the highest performance (which we retest every six months.)

    Ideally you want to have questions or elements in your interview process that test multiple characteristics at the same time to create a more comprehensive view of a candidate. Our roleplay scenarios help us uncover the most critical characteristics linked to successful business growth.

    Understanding what traits suit which job roles helps your recruitment agency refine candidate selection and helps you refine and attach even more value to the interview process. And this process ultimately means you can quickly identify and hire top-tier talent and grow your business.

    Hiring is the key to growing your business

    Hiring at volume will help you as you start out on your business growth journey. But hiring the wrong people can be fundamentally damaging to your business. That’s why you want to get it right the first time (with the proper support).

    Now we’ve explored how to hire the very best candidates for your business. But, how will you attract them in the first place?

    Achieve business growth by standing out

    A question organisations should ask themselves is ‘why should candidates choose this company over another?’ To answer this, you need to understand what employees are looking for.

    The great resignation of 2021, when four million employees handed in their notice, left employers questioning their employee value proposition. And rightly so, if you want to continue attracting and retaining these candidates, you must offer something valuable. We may or may not be heading towards a recession; either way, the candidate market is still hot, and you need to be prepared if you want to hire the best talent.

    But, what can you offer?

    Focus on career development for all employees

    At Payhawk, we’re strongly committed to supporting and empowering employees when it comes to their career development. To apply for a new position in-house, we’ve set stringent markers — they must have been working with us for nine months, and they need to have achieved 75%+ of their quota for the last three months.

    This structure keeps employees focused on career development, always pushing for the best possible outcome — 50% of job roles are filled through internal promotions where applicable because we place value on each employee.

    To get the best out of any team, it’s important to set clear expectations. Layout what you want them to achieve in three and six months. Keep the business growing and moving forward and continually challenge staff members.

    Benchmark your salaries to attract and retain talent

    Being underpaid isn’t the best feeling, and trying to entice new starters with a severely devalued salary just won’t cut it. To hire the top 1% talent, you need to pay for it. And that means consistent salary benchmarking has to be done because 51% of employees believe they’re underpaid, so you need to stay firmly in the 49% category.

    Employees fundamentally want to work for good companies, so it’s without question that you should be doing everything you can to make your company a better place to work.

    How to set employees up for success

    Employee success is directly related to business success — that much is clear. But what might be slightly ambiguous is how you can set them up for success in the first place.

    Firstly, transparency is crucial to maintaining a healthy culture in a sales organisation. Making decisions behind closed doors leads to distrust and a lack of focus. Everyone needs to understand what good looks like and what happens to underperformers — clear expectations are the minimum.

    What else can your organisation do to set employees up for success?

    Leverage leadership to drive candidate decisions

    Whatever role we’re recruiting for at Payhawk, the candidate receives a call from the Head of Sales, me, or the CEO to welcome them personally into the company. Everyone is integral to the success of the business, regardless of their position.

    In fact, the junior positions are some of the most important roles to recruit for. You bring them in with a view to nurture and support their career development so that in five to seven years, they’re still working with you.

    We want our business development representatives (BDRs) to turn into future account executives who will be responsible for the full sales cycle. If we invest in them from the very beginning, we’ll win big.

    That’s why focusing on your employee experience is vital to succeed.

    Invest in leadership enablement

    We’ve all heard of sales enablement, but leadership enablement is often overlooked in a growing business. In short, if you don’t help leaders become leaders, you’re missing an opportunity to set your business up for success.

    Let’s say you have an amazing account executive, who hits or exceeds all their targets, so you promote them to a sales management position. Without teaching the account executive on how to become a good leader, they’re left directionless. They think they have to do what they did before as an exec, but that’s not the case. It’s a completely different role.

    A management or leadership role is all about driving more output from the sales team. They can’t get the best out of their team without guidance, and it’s your job to do that.

    You need to implement the right learning huddles, and the right enablement sessions, and you need your leaders to become better coaches. Help them lead and coach and you’ll be rewarded.

    To sum up

    Now that you’ve read our two-part series on business growth strategies, hopefully, you feel like you can tackle your own growth challenges head-on when it comes to hiring and competing for top talent.

    If you take anything away from this two part blog series, let it be:

    • Know your culture and stick to it
    • Understand your market nuances
    • Invest in career development for all

    Scaling up your business can be an exciting time, but it’s also a time to embrace transparency when it comes to your finances.

    Discover how you could get better control and visibility of spend by using smart expense management software at your growing business, or book a demo to speak to one of our experts today.

    This article has been brought to you by our spend management editorial team.
    Payhawk Editorial Team

    The Payhawk Editorial Team consists seasoned finance professionals boasting years of experience in spend management, digital transformation, and the finance profession. We're dedicated to delivering insightful content to empower your financial journey.

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