For ABC Fitness, like many businesses, the pandemic was a do-or-die moment. Unlike other businesses, ABC used the crisis as a moment of opportunity to get better and stronger.
“We took that time to really think through a lot of our strategy and our approach to sales,” says Aaron Verasammy, VP of Sales. “While nobody wants their business to shut down, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.”
“We went from a portfolio of 8,600 clients to 95% of them being shut down,” Aaron explains. “It really took our industry by storm.”
The company’s leadership was forced to make some tough decisions including furloughing most of the sales team. Aaron moved back to directly working deals, like a quota-carrying rep, and used that work to focus on the nuts and bolts of deal qualification, pipeline development, and tracking deal milestones directly in Salesforce.
Aaron used the opportunity to develop an agile sales approach that would set ABC Fitness up for the next phase of post-pandemic growth. I met with Aaron recently to hear this story.
New Sales Strategy and Process 🆕
“Changing a pipeline philosophy is challenging,” Aaron explains. “But the pandemic forced a reset. We looked at everything from ideal-customer profile (ICP) to deal qualification to how to become more effective at prospecting.”
There were three major changes that helped set up the next phase of growth:
1) Refocus Sales Strategy: Aaron re-focused on account-based strategies to optimize the deployment of the sales force. Along with his sales ops partner, he did a total addressable market and serviceable addressable market exercise to identify ideal accounts.
2) Revalidate Pipeline: Aaron and sales ops went through a pipeline revalidation process, which resulted in shutting down 80% of the pipeline because it was stale. They established processes to validate every lead in the pipeline and changed how deals were forecast.
3) New Prospecting Motion: They sought to launch a BDR team through an outsourced provider. “It was one of our biggest learning experiences,” Aaron states. Although the BDR team did not work with the outsourced provider, he quickly launched an internal BDR team with newly formulated onboarding processes, new KPIs, and skills strategy.
Focus on Continuous Learning 🧠
“I’m a firm believer in educating ourselves and building a culture around a growth mindset,” Aaron says.
As Aaron started to rebuild the sales teams with their newly refocused approach, he realized he needed a partner to stay laser focused on providing continuous learning and improvement.
He found and hired Lee Robison, National Sales Director of North America, to guide continual training for the team and build a distinctive edge with deeper skills for value discovery, cold calling, prospecting, talk tracks, and more.
Lee was also critical to evolving their post-pandemic hiring strategy when they were unable to attract senior talent. Instead they “hired and onboarded less experienced SAEs and raised their performance through a robust learning and development strategy.”
One solution was to find prospects within their ranks, focusing on their niche and taking people who are passionate about fitness, fitness dynamics, and then teaching them B2B sales. At least two of their BDRs have been promoted over the last year.
ABC is constantly developing upskilling opportunities and the tools for reps to be successful, offering 5 hours of continuing development per week. The goal is to nurture them to be the most talented people.
Achieving Incredible Results 🎖️
“We’ve had three of our best years at ABC Fitness and we continue to evolve in terms of the development of our team,” Aaron tells me.
In spite of the pandemic and as a result of tearing down and rebuilding their sales organizations, ABC has experienced great success — 20% growth from 2021, and another record-breaking year in 2022, 114% of budget, 130% of year prior.
The BDR team was a big hit. They had 546 successes – from first meeting to discovery. 50% of those went to qualified opportunities or deal phase. They were able to open up new territories as well as relieve some of the pressure on SAEs (senior account executives).
Aaron attributes their impressive growth to agilely building out a new sales infrastructure and executing against that strategy.
Also, key was developing a new outbound philosophy: Everyone owns a piece of the pipeline opportunity creation. The focus on upskilling internally allowed flexibility and agility to change out reps and upgrade certain territories in a manner that wouldn’t be disruptive to the business.
While every growth story is different, ABC Fitness’ success shows the value of building an agile sales approach and cultivating a learner mindset across the team.