This Is Why You Should Give Your Employees “Keys to the Ferrari”

(Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Sangram Vajre, Co-Founder & CMO at Terminus.)

I had the honor to present at Drift’s inaugural HYPERGROWTH conference. In full transparency, I’m a Drift customer and huge fan of everything that David Cancel, Dave Gerhardt, and their whole company have accomplished so far.

When Dave told me I’d been slotted for the agenda at the first-ever HYPERGROWTH conference, I was thrilled!

Moreover, I got to speak on one of my favorite topics: building an amazing company culture.

As a startup executive and entrepreneur—I joined Terminus as a Co-Founder & CMO in 2015—I’d learned a lot over the past few years.

It was exciting to share one of my most important lessons learned with Drift’s customers and conference attendees.

In this post, I’d like to share highlights from my presentation with you.

If you’ve ever been in a startup, you know the odds are stacked against you.

Every startup leader and entrepreneur should read Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t. An interesting insight from that book is basically 99% of tech startups will never hit $1 million in revenue.

Back in 2015, Terminus was able to hit $1 million in ARR within nine months of launching our account-based marketing (ABM) platform.

Here’s a picture of my co-founders Eric Spett (CEO) and Eric Vass (CTO) celebrating our “Dos Commas” day in Atlanta.

My co-founders and I got a lot of questions about how we built our company, developed our culture, the hiring process, and, well, almost everything.

Here’s our hypothesis as to why we have been growing so fast and not breaking anyone on the team.

As co-founders, we realized there were two things we could control: why we are here, and what we represent. The “why” is our mission and the “what” are our core values.

Let me break it down for you.

  • Our mission (why we’re here): Terminus is on a mission to build a best-in-class account-based marketing (ABM) platform and community to make B2B marketers heroes in their organizations.
  • Our core values (what we represent): We have a relentless commitment to the personal and professional growth of our team and believe in each individual having the “Keys to the Ferrari”.

This idea of “Keys to the Ferrari” means everyone at Terminus (our “Terminators”) is empowered to make decisions and move forward.

We tell every new hire on the first day, “Here are the keys to the Ferrari and now drive as fast as you possibly can.” Of course, we don’t literally give them a Ferrari, but the idea is catching on.

Ferraris are unique. They’re not just cars, they’re supercars! The driver of a Ferrari feels limitless. Everyone feels great riding in a Ferrari.

And along the way, as Terminus has continued to grow over the past two years, we discovered there’s a certain magic with this mantra.

Here are 3 lessons learned from giving our “Terminators” the “Keys to the Ferrari.”

1) Define a clear mission that is bigger than yourselves and your company

With our mission being to make every B2B marketer an “ABM Superhero”, we built a movement around account-based marketing through the #FlipMyFunnel community.

Since founding #FlipMyFunnel, we’ve hosted eight conferences in 18 months. There’s an online community for #FlipMyFunnel with 6,000+ members. There are #FlipMyFunnel meetups happening all over the world in places like London, Sydney, in Tel Aviv.

We talked about the problem, and not our product and the company. Our idea of flipping the funnel for account-based marketing gained so much traction, we even got to write the first book ever about ABM: Account-Based Marketing For Dummies.

This was all possible because we took the “Keys to the Ferrari.”

2) What drives success is not your product. It’s your people that care about the problem.

Marc Benioff, the legendary CEO of Salesforce, said, “The secret to successful hiring is this: Look for people who want to change the world.”

I’m also a big fan of the Jim Collins quote, “getting the right people on the bus.” Hiring the right people at your startup is so essential for success.

Since 2015, we’ve grown to more than 120 full-time “Terminators” at Terminus. Hiring 100+ people in two years taught us that a passion for the problem you’re solving is worth more than funding, and a clear vision and mission trumps red tape.

3) The only thing you can control is culture. Period.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, said, “Your culture is your brand.” This is so true!

I’m always so happy to hear from our prospects and customers raving about the experiences they’ve had working with our “Terminators”.

While our ABM technology is cool, it’s truly our people that have made Terminus the #1 ranked account-based software on G2Crowd.

Our customers say things like, “Terminus feels committed to our success,” and “I feel like Terminus is an extension of our team and always working for us.” It takes an incredible team of people to make magic like that happen.

So every Sunday, I send a #OneThing email to our whole company (and yes – I know there’s a book called One Thing, and it’s awesome).

In a recent #OneThing email, I asked everyone to share, “How do you define ‘Keys to the Ferrari’?”

The responses we got were amazing! Our “Terminators” said things like “Keys to the Ferrari is all about trust, empowerment, and the ability to create your own path.”

Another Terminator said, “Keys to the Ferrari means ‘playing to win’, rather than ‘playing not to lose.’”

So, do the employees at your company have the keys to the Ferrari? Let me know your thoughts by tweeting to me @SangramVajre.

Want to learn more? Check out my recent segment on Drift’s Seeking Wisdom podcast.

About Sangram

Sangram Vajre has quickly built a reputation as one of the leading minds in B2B marketing. Before co-founding Terminus, a SaaS platform for account-based marketing, Sangram led the marketing team at Pardot through its acquisition by ExactTarget and then Salesforce. He’s the author of Account-Based Marketing For Dummies and is the mastermind behind #FlipMyFunnel. Follow Sangram on Twitter @SangramVajre.

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