Did you know that AppSumo makes more revenue per employee than Google and Facebook? It’s true. Not only are we ridiculously good-looking and humble, but we are super successful, too. (Please keep reading.) So I thought it would be interesting to see if I could get AppSumo president Ayman Al-Abdullah to spill the AppSumo tea. Luckily, he obliged.
Over a few Al Pastor tacos, Ayman and I talked about how he was able to turn something that started in Noah’s mom’s basement into an 8-figure business in just a few years. Ayman was open and honest (as he always is) about the strategies behind the success, providing me (and now you) with genuine, actionable advice to take any business to the next level.
Below, I will share those strategies with you. But you gotta do me a favor, do NOT keep them to yourself. Share them with your entrepreneur friends — the ones who are struggling, the ones who are on the brink of success, and the ones who are ready to scale.
1. Remove bottlenecks in your business
Let’s be honest, as entrepreneurs (and mostly solopreneurs), we think we know what’s best for our business and that no one can run it better. So we do everything ourselves, refusing help from anyone. We do the grunt work, the strategizing, and take responsibility for every task in our business…whether it’s in our skill set or not.
Well, according to Ayman, doing everything yourself is a bottleneck. You are inhibiting your own growth by trying to do everything without help. His advice is to figure out what the bottlenecks are in your business (e.g. the tasks that are taking up too much of your time) and outsource those things so you can concentrate on the money-generating tasks in your business.
When Ayman first started with AppSumo, he was a one-man show. He was closing the deals, writing and HTML-formatting copy, sending the emails, and doing customer service. Because he was stretched so thin, he wasn’t excelling at any of those duties; he was just getting them done. Spoiler alert: This is NOT how you scale a business.
Once Ayman was able to take a moment to breathe, he realized that the only way to grow the business was to get higher quality deals. Closing deals was AppSumo’s bottleneck, so he hired someone solely to find and close deals. This freed Ayman up to do more strategic work for AppSumo, while high-quality deals were still being closed.
2. Hire for the process, not the org chart
There’s no doubt that AppSumo has a very unique hiring strategy. (I mean, where do they find such smart, handsome, and hip people anyway?) For starters, Ayman recommends ‘hiring for the process and not the org chart.’ By that, he means to think about your business as an assembly line and hire for those positions.
For example, in the AppSumo business, there are several steps in the deal setup process. We need someone to find and close deals, we need copywriters and designers to create the creative assets, we need developers to update the website, a marketer to run Facebook ads, and customer support to keep our customers are happy.
AppSumo Deal Process:
- Find and close deal
- Deal set up process
- Write copy, video script and email and get graphics
- Set deal up on the website
- Launch deal
- Market the deal
- Customer Support
With this process in mind, Ayman hired the best person for each task. He knew doing this would keep the deal process moving smoothly. After Ayman hired his first business development rep, his next hire was head of marketing to help with copy, emails, and advertising. Then, he hired a dedicated and devilishly good-looking copywriter (who totally isn’t editing this post) to nail the voice of AppSumo in both the deal copy and emails. Each and every time that AppSumo has made a hire, it has been to fill a strategic part of the deal “assembly line process.”
One of the keys to AppSumo’s success is having a lean and dedicated team of talented people. What may be interesting to you to know is that AppSumo does not generally hire people immediately. In fact, Ayman recommends that you have each potential employee do a trial run before hiring them full-time. He usually gives the candidate a project to work on to test out the person’s skillset and to ensure that they fit in with the team. This trial run can go from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. But once the candidate has proved their worth, a job offer is extended.
3. Identify areas for scaling
Once you’ have your team in place, it’s time to think about scaling your business. According to Ayman, there are four ways that you can scale your business:
- Make the product better
When Ayman was running AppSumo alone, he was doing everything well. But well isn’t good enough to scale. So he hired a biz dev guy to go out and find those Tier 1 deals Sumo-lings would love. Then, he hired a head of engineering to increase conversions by making the website easier to use. After that, be brought on a copywriter to make deals compelling. With each hire, the overall the product became better. And that has stayed true with each new hire since.
- Explore new marketing channels
For a long time, AppSumo relied on its healthy email list size. However, there came a point when Ayman realized they needed to do more to reach a new audience. And that’s when Ayman decided it was time to try Facebook Ads marketing. “Try” is the key word because Ayman recommends that businesses ‘test and invest’ before making a full-time commitment. Just because you think Facebook Ads may be good for your business doesn’t mean they will be. He also advises NOT to make any full-time hires for new marketing channels until those channels have proved a solid ROI.
In order to adhere to the ‘test and invest’ policy, AppSumo tried out several Facebook agencies to see who would rise to the top. He gave each team a certain amount of money and let them run Facebook ads on our behalf to see who would get the highest ROI. After the test was over, he went with the winning agency.
Unfortunately, most businesses don’t personally test the people they are considering hiring and make the mistake of rushing into a full-time offer. This an incredibly risky way to scale your business. The next time you’re thinking about hiring someone to do your marketing, try out several employees and agencies to make sure they can back up the resume talk.
- Sell people more things
The third way AppSumo tried to scale the business was by finding new products to sell to AppSumo’s existing customers. AppSumo tried things like gift cards and a plus membership. The gift cards work well because they make Sumo-lings want to constantly to browse through our store to see what they can spend their “free money” on. Similarly, the Plus membership has been a hit with its discount, one free tool credit, and other surprise perks. Each of these additions has helped AppSumo increase it’s bottomline.
- Put processes in place
One of the mistakes that many new companies and new entrepreneurs make is they don’t invest time in transferring the knowledge they already have to new employees.
Because so much of the AppSumo’s growth has been a result of new hires, it’s important to have systems in place to ramp up its employees. AppSumo uses SOPs (standard operating procedures) for each of its tasks to reduce mistakes and increase productivity. When a team member comes on board, they are able to quickly learn the ‘right way’ to do things at AppSumo. These SOPs and checklists are available to anyone on the team and are an invaluable asset to running a smooth team.
We encourage you to watch the entire webinar with Ayman to learn even more tips on growing a successful business (and to marvel at his beard). Click here to get access to the 60-minute webinar.