Five years ago, on October 1st, we opened The Selling Factory’s doors. At the time, we had no idea what The Selling Factory would look like five months, let alone five years later. Our expansion propelled us to move to a brand new office space on August 1st. Located in the heart of Downtown Gainesville’s Innovation District and 4 short blocks to University of Florida’s campus, we increased our capacity by 45%. Looking back from three locations and multiple pivots, we celebrate our fifth anniversary with pride and excitement looking forward to the next five years.
FINDING TUNE FOR OUR MODEL
At our inception, we tested various ideas hoping one would stick. We tried a business incubator model, we ran Selling Boot Camps, and we facilitated focused cold-calling sessions called Selling Blitzes. We quickly realized that this was not sustainable. We needed to change our business model to create a scalable and profitable business.
While it took some time (a year to be exact), our greatest asset was the ability to recruit and coach highly-motivated college students in sales. We knew that if we trained the exceptional talent at one of the best universities in the country (I am biased as a proud member of Gator Nation), clients would come. And that they did.
DISCOVERING TOP TALENT AT UNIVERSITIES
Finding good – let alone great – entry-level sales talent is a monumental challenge for most companies today. Add in management and turnover of these teams, companies are struggling daily to meet their revenue goals. We pivoted in the Summer of 2017 to support companies to overcome these difficulties. Our fractional sales model, hiring and managing college students from top universities, has driven sales and customer growth of over 80 companies – large and small, enterprise and early-stage startup, and everything in between. While this concept has been valuable for companies, it has equally benefited our students.
The heart and soul of The Selling Factory are our students. Every day, we prepare college students today to be the professionals of tomorrow. Their determination, enthusiasm, and a fresh, can-do attitude has been an inspiration to leadership. In an oversaturated employment market, students find it challenging to differentiate themselves. Student positions, which are offered throughout the year, intersect an internship and part-time job that post-graduation roles crave. Throughout the experience, students strengthen their communication skills, gain greater confidence, and own their value proposition. Since working with our first student, we have been fortunate to see the 325 students later launch companies like Panther, Grifin, and Spot Ranger, as well as jumpstart their careers at companies such as KPMG, Oracle, Equitable Advisors, CDW, and more.
BUILDING CAREERS AND COMMUNITIES AT THE SELLING FACTORY
The friendships and relationships our students develop with one another, as well as leadership, are meaningful building blocks in their journey as a college student and leading into the business world upon graduation. This past year we were informed that The Selling Factory is one of the largest employers of active University of Florida students, outside of the university itself. Our relationships with the Career Counselors, Deans, Professors, and Administrators across campus have helped fuel the growth of The Selling Factory and provided invaluable opportunities for students to learn, grow, and thrive.
Beyond the external opportunities, we have prided ourselves on improving the Gainesville community. Many SDR interns have stayed in Gainesville following graduation to help us build internally. Leading our 75+ students per month, our Campaign Managers work together to coach our students and communicate with our clients daily. Zack Kampf (the technological savant), Josiah Blakemore (the coaching dynamo), Damien Paulk (the zen master), and Savannah Howard (the calming force), each worked as an SDR intern prior to taking a more expansive role leading teams.
Beyond internal hires, we have pulled individuals from the outside – Brendan Viehman (the crypto captain), who moved from North Carolina at the height of the pandemic, and recently added Kira Baker (the selling brewmaster), a double Gator. In addition, we hired a former SDR intern, Sue-Ming Frauenhofer (the brand boss), to expand and advance our Marketing Department. In just four months, she completely redesigned the website, the brand image, and social media channels. And, she has activated connections between students and leadership by creating fun TikTok and Instagram videos.
TURNING THE PAGE TO OUR NEXT CHAPTER
The growth over the last 12 months has allowed us to invest in our operational infrastructure and client success. Humbled by the fact that so many businesses (and people) suffered during the pandemic, we flourished. Revenue will double, year over year. And because of our abundant access to talent, companies look to us to support their lead generation and sales development needs.
As we continue to support companies in their sales development needs, bring students back to in-person work experiences, and build the Gainesville community, we appreciate the collaboration. Thank you to our students, our clients, our partners, and our leadership team for supporting The Selling Factory these past five years. We can’t wait to see what’s next!