How I Built a Sales System from Scratch
Praxis is a year-long program for people who want more than college. It consists of a six-month boot camp followed by a full-time job offer at a growing business - usually a high-growth startup.
In the boot camp, participants learn how to build a professional brand, develop a compelling portfolio of work, and master approaching their careers in an entrepreneurial way.
While in the job, Praxis coaches work with participants to make sure they are kicking ass in their role - building out 30,60,90, and 180-day game plans for participants to crush it. Participants also get one-on-one coaching to workshop the problems they might be facing in the role.
All-in-all, Praxis is fundamentally changing the way people approach their careers - and life. They are offering a solution that is faster, cheaper, and higher-quality than any college or other alternative. And if you want to learn more, click here.
I joined Praxis in April 2020. Coming into a mainly undefined role, but with clear objectives:
- Do not suck & make shit happen
- Improve quality & health of the pipeline
- Shorten sales cycle
- Make the sales process more predictive
- Build a scalable sales system
Once I received the job offer, it was off to the races. Before my first day, I started building out a knowledge base for all things sales - since it did not exist.
My tool for the job was Notion. To begin, I started by filling the doc with pillar pages like Playbook, Tech Stack, KPIs & OKRs, Swipe File, Collateral, and Lead Nurture.
I spent most of my time within the playbook initially - defining and breaking down every sales process and sub-process. I clearly described our value-propositions, created a step-by-step break-down of the entire buyer's journey, and then began identifying buyer personas by age, work history, location, and more - this would help to personalize outreach later on.
- Organic Search - Lead generation primarily came from organic search historically. It was also providing the highest quality leads.
- Facebook, Instagram, & Other Ads - Providing a high-quantity of leads, but historically low-quality ones.
- PR - Historically serving as the most predictable stream for leads - and resulting in very high-quality ones.
Knowing this, we needed to start leaning into both content and PR more.
Content for Praxis has always been top-notch, but with a lack of resources, they had stopped producing consistently. To solve this problem, we outsourced content creation to an agency - freeing the rest of the team and I to focus on everything else.
Since PR had been a proven strategy, Praxis was doubling-down on podcast appearances. They pitched other podcasts to be guests on the show and built out their own. However, podcasts can only take us so far. To cast a wider net, we needed to pitch podcasts, but news outlets and other media sources on top of that.
During my days, I started building lists of news outlets in cities across the U.S. that resonated with the philosophy of our program, aka republican/liberal. Then crafting lists of homeschool groups that we could connect with (as a large portion of Praxis participants and alum are homeschoolers growing up). Then we started pitching.
We landed more appearances on podcasts, articles on publications. And in the summer of 2020, Praxis CEO landed a few minutes on Fox News. Then Praxis founder Isaac Morehouse landed a few more minutes with Tucker Carlson.
- Design - Outdated. It was several years old and needed a facelift to ensure the trust of website visitors and compare to websites of other boot camps.
- Copy - Could be improved - especially with shifting value propositions.
- Social Proof - Was present but could be more interactive and built out more.
- CTAs - Not clear enough. Not enough opportunity to interact.
- Bounce Rate - Way too high, primarily because the website did not have mobile optimization and loaded too slowly.
With this knowledge, we began improving each. For design, we outsourced the work so we could focus on the copy, CTAs, and bounce rate. We ended up moving the site from WordPress to Webflow. Then began integrating new copy.
The copy focused on shifting the model of the program from a six-month boot camp six-month apprenticeship to a six-month boot camp full-time job offer. We also pivoted our core value-prop to "Don't pay until you're hired." Allowing the copy to be congruent with the program partnering with Climb Credit to allow students to defer tuition - further positioning us as a risk-free college alternative.
For social proof, we started building out case studies of our alum. Giving leads full access to what the program was capable of doing for them. Then we implemented those through clean design, along with social tweets from other participants.
We also made our CTAs stronger by making it straight to the point. The old CTA was "Unleash your potential. Apply today." The new CTA was "See how far one year investing in yourself can take you. Apply now."
Sure it was longer, but it hit right at the heart of what we are aiming to help people do - shift their mindset. From a do-what-your-told way of thinking to you have the power to make your career and life what you want it to be - as long as you invest in yourself.
To improve bounce rate, we needed to pull people beyond the home page. The new design alone helped. But we made a few other changes:
- We included a slim top banner to the top of the site, allowing anyone to schedule a call with Praxis (if they chose to do so)
- Then we implemented a Drift bot in the bottom right corner (more on that later)
- And to tie the bow, we implemented links to download our program guide and success stories throughout the page. By doing so, we allowed anyone viewing the site (on desktop or mobile) to see a link for downloading it. This is important to note because before doing so, mobile visitors would have to scroll to the footer or hit the hamburger button to see it.
- Process - Sure, Praxis had a sales funnel before I came on, but it was messy and undefined. Considering the sales funnel was not structured, the process for how/who pulled in leads and who closed them was not very clear. We had to build a system for consistently turning leads into qualified leads and handing them off.
- Tech Tools - Praxis had several sales tools in place. Including Salesforce, Calendly, and Chatra. However, we needed more and better tools for certain parts of the sales process to be automated - and scalable.
- Conversion - The majority of leads were low quality and inconsistent, making conversion rates minimal. To improve, we need to do two things: Improve the quality of leads & consistency of those leads.
To begin defining the process/funnel, I started by building out a presumptuous plan within the knowledge base (referenced earlier). Then I took full responsibility for handling all incoming leads. To make this happen, we replaced Chatra with Drift - allowing me to tackle all incoming questions more effectively. Drift also allowed me to build out several bots - to make sure people could get information or schedule a call regardless if I was working or not.
When building a bot, I made sure to get straight to the heart of what people on our site were looking to find. I didn't say, "Hi! Welcome to Praxis. How can we help you?" Instead, I said, "Hey!👋 Welcome to Praxis. Ready to launch your career?" By framing it this way, it compelled more people to respond to the message because it skipped asking if they needed help with their career. It took the assumption that they did (otherwise, they wouldn't be on the site). So it directly addresses if they are ready to start their career - this does two things. The first is that, if they respond, we understand that they are serious about taking the next step in their career (which could be Praxis). The second is that it provokes excitement, opportunity, and trust. This is because it's a bold question, and only confident people that can truly help would ask that question.
After implementing Drift, we set up a phone system using RingCentral. Using Zapier, we then implemented automated texts by connecting RingCentral to Salesforce (which creates lead records when someone starts an application). This allowed everyone who starts an application to the program to be messaged within five minutes after doing so.
Once a lead started an application, downloaded the program guide, or scheduled a call, they needed to be touched consistently. Since I was the only one managing everyone, we needed to set up a way for me to do so effectively - that's where Outreach came in. We swang a deal with them, and I began implementing sequences and automated tasks for me to knock-out every day - this also allowed for the process to be scaled later on. Each CTA (application, program guide, and call) had a different cadence built out. All of which started with an automated email, and then I followed up manually to make it personal. The personal responses made it more human and made people feel like they weren't just a lead, but someone that we wanted to help make their dreams come true - this is an important thing to note. Without personalizing emails, this sales process wouldn't have worked.
Naturally, I focused on incoming applications the most - touching them more than any other lead. Then I focused on prospects from scheduled calls. Then leads from the program guide.
Once I qualified a lead, my goal was to make sure they applied as soon as possible. Then the applications team took it from there and ultimately closed them.
All-in-all, from focusing more on winning channels within top-of-funnel and defining/streamlining the sales process, we managed to increase the number of leads on the site and the number of qualified leads moving on to the next stage of the funnel.
As a by-product, qualified leads were more informed and more ready to buy-in to the program when it came time to seal the deal - shortening the average time to close.
Now that we built a foundation, we needed to start scaling.
To scale sales, you have two options. The first option is to hire more sales reps to do more manual things. The second option is to automate trivial tasks. Since we were short on resources, we chose the latter.
To begin, I started converting manual Outreach sequences to automated emails - carefully crafting each email, making sure I didn't sound like a robot but a human. I also made sure to write it like a marketing drip campaign as opposed to a sales sequence. You can't fake automation when you're trying to address someone specifically, so I didn't bother directly addressing them. To understand what I mean, here's an example email that I used to conclude the drip campaign:
Hey, it's Gregory. I live in Las Vegas, NV. I am addicted to coffee. I've worked at two startups since I graduated high school. I love business. And I love helping other people move forward in their careers.
Oh yeah, I'm also only 19.
The fall after my senior year, I landed a job in sales at a high growth startup. I packed my bags and moved over 1,300 miles from my small hometown.
Was it scary? Hell yes. Was it also exciting and rewarding? Even more so.
In the time it took my peers to get semester grades back their freshman year of college, I was helping grow a business backed by a private equity firm. Helping change customer lives with a valuable product, learning and developing a passion for business, and making more money than I ever had before.
It didn't seem real, honestly.
But why am I telling you this? No, it’s not to brag. It’s to let you in on the little secret of what's possible. I'm trying to put my money where my mouth is.
See, I've been emailing you for the past two weeks sharing why college isn't necessary to launch your career. That you don’t have to waste your time or money. That there is a better way.
I realize it’s tough to take my advice from some stranger on the internet you’ve never even met. But I am here to tell you now, everything I've said comes straight from my personal experience.
My experience of being let down by higher education. My experience of searching for a different way. My experience of finding that way and leaning into it full force. Then succeeding.
And guess what, you can do it too.
The reality that you have to forgo starting a successful career for four years of your life is madness.
If you agree and want to start your career now, then I’d like to invite you to apply to the Praxis program. It takes less time to submit your application than it does to say Praxis 19 times fast. Not really, but you know what I'm saying.
P.S. - Still not sure? Watch this video.
Once the drip campaign was live, the only thing left to do was tackle the remaining manual touch points coming from other TOF sources and respond to email replies.
- You can't build anything without creating a foundation to do so. Without switching gears for our TOF efforts, adjusting our tech stack, or building a knowledge base, we wouldn't have been able to make it work or scale.
- Personalized sales beats automation every time. Only automate once you have too to scale.
- Outsourcing lower-priority tasks to focus on core problems is the easiest way to build and scale fast.
- Your website should have a chat box or bot. Without implementing conversational marketing on your site, you're closing the door to many prospects - just make sure you're meeting your leads where they are (don't be generic in your messaging).
- Content is king. This is obvious, but you can never say it too many times.
- To grow a healthy pipeline, focus on improving the quality of your leads first - then scale for quantity.
- If possible, invest in the tools you need to run your business in 5 years, now.
- Your website can't be good. It has to be great. Focus on optimizing it for desktop and mobile. Make it easier for people to explore different pages through links. Make sure it looks clean - don't fill it with information to fill it with information (every part of the site should be there for a reason).
- Don't' fake automation. Leads can spot automation from a mile away. Be honest, and be brilliant in your copy.
- Make shit happen. The only thing stopping you from growing is you. Be resourceful, be fast, and make data-backed decisions.