4 min read

8 Things I learned from Noah Kagan about Sales, Marketing, and Hiring

Learn valuable insights on sales, marketing, and hiring from Noah Kagan, the Chief Sumo at Appsumo. Discover how to grow your business effectively.
8 Things I learned from Noah Kagan about Sales, Marketing, and Hiring
Photo by Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

Meeting randomers from the internet can be either scary or fun. In the case of conferences like SumoCon in Austin a couple of weeks ago it was very fun.  

What is SumoCon?

It’s a new conference by the guys over at Appsumo to focus on your business. Considering I’ve been following, and buying from them for years, the conference was pretty much a no-brainer. Noah Kagan, the Chief Sumo, shared some wisdom about marketing, building teams, organization, etc.  

Cathryn Lavery and Noah Kagan

Here are the 8 takeaways I got from a breakout with Noah:

1. Become an advisor to your company

How would you handle things differently if you were an advisor to the business rather than an owner? Would you see what mistakes you were making, or would you treat decisions differently if you weren’t so personally involved in the day-to-day?  

In the book Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill talks about how he created an internal mastermind for himself of some of the most influential thinkers in the world. By doing this, he would bring decisions to make to them in his mind, thinking ‘What would X do in this situation?’ It helped him expand his focus when making decisions.  

Noah mentioned a similar idea except imagining yourself having a different CEO such as Jeff Bezos to go to and consistently asking yourself ‘What would Bezos do?’.  

Takeaway: Step away from your business, imagine you were an onlooker – how would you act or make decisions for your company differently?

2. Do More of what WORKS

Look over the past year at everything that worked for your business. Then do more of it. Pretty simple.

  • Where have the majority of your new consulting clients come from? Do that more.
  • Where have your sales come from? Expand that channel.
  • Is one source providing most of your email opt-ins? Double down on that.  

Are you doing something that isn’t working? Either stop it or tweak your approach. Once you’ve tried that if it’s still not producing the results over a set period, STOP. There’s a lost opportunity cost with everything.

3. Keep focused on a singular goal

Always know what direction you’re going and what milestone you’re working towards at a given time. – For SumoMe it was reaching 1 billion people. –

For their flagship course, ‘Monthly 1K’ it was $1 Million in revenue.  You (and your team) should know the singular goal you are working towards at all times.  Create an in-depth plan for how you’ll get there. Make a list of everything, prioritize the list, and then do it. That’s what we do at BestSelf and why we created the SELF Journal.

4. Build a machine to build a machine

Create a Standard Operating Procedure for EVERYTHING. This way if anyone leaves or gets fired you aren’t starting from the bottom. I shared the process about exactly how to do this here.  

When creating documentation or SOPs, do the job first yourself, then you know how to do it.

5. Step away from the computer

Every time we open our laptop, the big shiny light can zap our creative juices so it’s good to step away from it for a time to think outside the box… literally. Noah talked about his time working at Facebook, as employee #26 he watched how Mark Zuckerberg would always be writing with pen and paper rather than at his computer. If it’s good enough for Zuck, it’s good enough for you.  

Book time in your calendar for thinking or it’ll never happen.  

(This is a point that was reinforced when I spent 5 days with Tony Robbins, read more…)

6. Hiring: People are everything, Hire rockstars

The best hires are referrals, always be growing your network.  

Ask yourself, who would you enthusiastically rehire? By this, I mean if you were starting over again tomorrow, which of your team members would you be excited to work with again? Rank your team members and see who would rehire. Fire the ones you wouldn’t.  

Get more feedback within your company on how things are going internally. Have a 1:1 with each team member once a month to let them know how they’re doing. Set up anonymous feedback if you want to get the absolute truth.  

People who start with your company may not be there to finish. That’s ok.  

Got a job? Ask your boss what exceptional work would look like to them. Do that. Become a rockstar they would enthusiastically rehire.

7. Find your opposite

If you’re a starter, you need a finisher. If you’re a product person, you need a marketing person, much like Apple did at the beginning with Steve Jobs (Marketer) and Steve Wozniak (Product). Find an editor for your stuff, someone to run your stuff by before publishing. Noah has Olman for this.  

This was the secret sauce behind BestSelf when Allen and I started working together. I was good at product, and he was good at marketing and when we teamed up, we began seeing real success.

8. Be a gardener, not a hunter

Always be planting seeds that grow, rather than being the creepy hunter stalking its prey.  

If you’re trying to make a sale, it’s going to be easier if you provide initial value (plant the seed) rather than hunt a customer down and ask them to buy (hunter). This can be used whether you’re in sales, marketing, etc. Consider how you would like to be approached, or review what you have bought over the last few months. How did they sell you?  

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