If you’ve spoken to a salesperson lately (or rather, hung up on a salesperson lately), you probably know that the sales department of the typical company is more or less broken. While buyers are more educated than ever, salespeople are using outdated tactics to reach them. They’re telemarketing or sending bad emails – trying too hard to sell their product instead of providing value. Simply put, “they’re falling behind buyers and losing the race,” says Chad Nuss, co-founder of InsideOut Sales Innovation Lab.
The problem, Nuss says, is that the sales process has changed drastically in the last few years. While companies have been focusing on innovating product development and customer service to keep up with increased buyer demands, they’ve fallen behind in their sales approach. “There’s not much innovation happening in the sales department,” says Nuss. He and his counterpart Christina Cherry, both former Silicon Valley executives, are seeking to change that.
They founded InsideOut in 2015, and opened up their Sales Innovation Lab right here in downtown St. Petersburg.
Their goal, according to Nuss, is to “empower sales people to be creative, find innovative ways to go after their customer base, let new customers test and measure their approach to how they sell.” You might not think that sales can be measured in the typical “lab” environment, but Nuss and Cherry have created an environment to do just that.
Their approach is working. Now, InsideOut is expanding its Lab, looking to fill more than 40 new positions by July 1. As relative newbies to St. Petersburg’s tightly-knit business community, Nuss and Cherry have lost no time getting involved in the city’s renaissance. Nuss is heavily involved in the St. Pete Chamber of Commerce, and the Grow Smarter Initiative.
Not only are they expanding their own operations in St. Pete, they’re also exposing the city to the world. InsideOut’s clients and trainees come to St. Petersburg for an in-person lab experience. “We’ve had every customer here – from IBM to ADP; multibillion-dollar companies to young startups who are looking for locations,” says Cherry. They don’t keep them confined in the lab setting, either: “We like to have a good time with all these people too, so there’s something to do every night in St. Petersburg. These people come from San Francisco, and New York, and Boston, and Australia, the UK – from all over the world to our town.”
Q: How has the location of your sales lab helped catalyze your growth?
Nuss: Our DTSP (Downtown St. Pete) location is at the center of our growth. We have the opportunity to recruit top talent from the Tampa Bay area to our business. Our move from the San Francisco Bay area has been an eye-opening experience. There is so much white noise in SF, whereas St. Pete gives us an ability to clearly articulate our plan, and execute on it. We are also part of a thriving ecosystem of local CEOs, artists, makers and innovators. This helps us drive inclusiveness and diversity in our people, and our overall culture benefits from mirroring our DTSP environment. As an example, we have the Vitale Bros doing murals in our DTSP offices to complete the mirroring of our internal culture, mapped to that of DTSP.
Q: How has the city and chamber supported your growth?
Nuss: There is a clearly articulated partnership we have with our local government. There is no question about their willingness to align with our needs, and our complete alignment with the Grow Smarter initiative taking place in St. Pete. I can access Mayor Kriseman, JP Dubuque and Chris Steinocher because they care about what we are doing, and believe that our business can help accelerate the city’s pathway to growth. That instant access and attention to detail is not found in any other city we’ve looked at.
Q: People say St. Pete is the perfect place to live, work, and play. Do you agree?
Nuss: You mean, my normal day? I wake up in the Old Northeast and enjoy walking two blocks to our great waterfront parks to take the dogs for a walk, enjoy dolphin watching, workout and sunshine before the day even gets started. I walk or bike to work, no Bay Area traffic, no stress, not parking headaches. Wearing flip flops and one of my many St. Pete t-shirts to work proves that I’m really enjoying this Florida lifestyle. We bring large Fortune 100 companies to St. Pete and have the ability to showcase our weather, beaches, bars and restaurants all walking distance from our DTSP location. I feel like I am working in a permanent staycation every day.
Q: What roles will these new employees be filling?
Nuss: We are hiring new employees that come from all walks of life, and have an intrinsic interest in sales, software, marketing and high tech. The employees that work within our sales innovation lab have the ability to be creative, innovate, and think out of the box, and are required to do so. InsideOut gives them the ability to come up with a new idea, test it, and publish a new technique for our clients that could influence millions of dollars of increased revenue for companies like Autodesk, IBM, ADP, and countless other global brands. One simple idea from our employee can alter the course of sales at some of the largest companies on the planet. The ability to make a difference, inspires each of us to come to work in our sales lab every day.
Q: When do you project them to be hired?
Nuss: Our current requirement is to hire approximately 1 person every day for the next 60 days. By July 1st our entire new office space on the 3rd floor will be filled up.
Q: What are you looking for in an employee?
Nuss: We are looking for creative, persistent and passionate people. Innovation requires the ability to create new ideas, and to be persistent in the pursuit of testing that idea until it is validated or fails. Our passionate culture is a reward from operating a great company and selling a product that the largest brands in the world require. We are looking for employees that want to get involved in customer success, operations, finance, human resources, so in essence, we’re growing across the entire company.