The First Time I Built A Million-Dollar Business It Was a Total Fluke…

“This would be so much easier in person,” I thought to myself as the Zoom meeting window loaded.

He’s waiting for me.

Headphones on, looking casual in a black v-neck tee. Green eyes glinting in the glow of the screen. A practiced poker-face I can’t read.

If you saw him on the street, you wouldn’t know he’s personally responsible for tens of millions of dollars in sales.

Dude looks like a regular-ass white boy.

His name is Mike Mark, and he’s the founder of CoachingSales.com. His company helps entrepreneurs get off the phone and build profitable, scalable sales teams.

We sat down for over an hour to talk about his successes and failures. First as a salesman, then as a sales manager, then as a sales consultant.

“The first time I built a million-dollar business it was a total fluke. Literally happened by accident. I didn’t know what the results would be at all. We had no goals or anything. The goal was just to sell a lot of shit.”

Mike was hired by the founder of gun.io, a tech company that placed talented software engineers on projects. Kind of like what CoachingSales.com does, but for software.

“When I came in they were doing a hundred grand a year. Within 3 months, we hit a million-a-year run rate. 6 to 8 months after that, we hit $2 million.”

Mike was so good at closing on the phone they were able to raise prices soon after he joined. But that didn’t move the needle as much as what he did next.

“Our initial positioning was something like ‘we help you find badass developers to build your projects.’ Which is fine, nothing wrong with that, but I noticed we’d get a lot of startups. I hate startups. People use the word ‘startup’ to hide the fact that they don’t have a real fucking business. And if they ever say ‘we’re a startup’ on a sales call, y’know, they’re asking for a discount.”

They were solving “broke people problems.”

If you know anything about sales, this will sound familiar:

  • Offer
  • Audience
  • Messaging

Of these 3, offer and audience are the most important. The wrong offer attracts the wrong audience, putting a damper on your ability to sell.

And the offer being “wrong” has a lot to do with your messaging, or how you present it.

Fortunately for the owner of gun.io, Mike was Woke enough to see the patterns and adjust accordingly.

Of course, being the only salesman taking calls helped. He was immersed in the voice of the market.

“So we repositioned to 2nd-time entrepreneurs. People who’ve had an Exit and are on their second go-round. Where either the founder was technical or they had a co-founder who was technical.”

It worked. The new leads clearly understood the value of gun.io’s offer and they were able to charge a lot more.

The reposition got them to $1 million a year. After that it was just a matter of doubling-down on what worked. That got them to $2 million.

“So, as you progressed, how did you build their sales team?”

“I was the sales team.”

“What?”

“I was the only salesman in the business.”

“OK, so…how does that relate to what you do now…attracting and building sales teams?”

My spidey-sense was tingling.

It’s one thing to be a million-dollar closer. And another thing entirely to build a team of million-dollar closers.

“That’s the thing. Even though it was just me, even though I had no idea what I was doing while figuring it out…it’s the core of our offer. We take entrepreneurs off the phone and add a million-a-year to their business. More important than that, I bought the founder time. Him not being on the phone meant he could work on the business, improve fulfillment, and grow the company.”

Fair enough, but that’s still one time. Like he said, could be a fluke. A flash in the pan.

“So, when was the first time you replicated this system in another business?”

“At Traffic and Funnels. We went from 80k to 500k MRR in 6 months. But I fucked that up, like, so bad. It was awful.”

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Next: The 2nd time Mike Mark built a million-dollar business

Sub-Text:

  1. Solving “broke people problems” attracts broke people to you
  2. A million-dollar closer isn’t the same as a million-dollar sales team
  3. The greatest benefit of hiring a salesman is buying back your time