In two instances in my career, I’ve joined start-ups as the first hire for sales and customer success when the entire company was less than 15 employees strong. In this article, I’ll share five steps from my experience in building out these teams; focus, getting to know your customers, engagement, closing the loop, and people.

My name's David Apple, I'm the Head of Customer Success and Sales at Notion. In this article, I'm going to talk about my experience building out customer success and sales teams from the ground up at both Notion and Typeform.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Notion and Typeform, they're both definitely considered to be product-led growth companies in the sense that they both reached millions of users 10s of 1000s of paying customers, mainly driven through organic viral growth because people love both of these products.

In both cases, I joined the team when they were less than 15 employees and I was the first hire for the sales and customer success teams responsible for building those teams out.

What I want to cover in this article, are five steps along the journey of building out these teams.

  1. The first one is focus.
  2. The second one is getting to know your customers.
  3. The third one is engaging with your customers.
  4. Then closing the loop with product.
  5. Finally, the people side of things.