Home » How a pivotal hire from the world of sports entertainment helped Crux-X shift sales strategy

How a pivotal hire from the world of sports entertainment helped Crux-X shift sales strategy

Investing in a sales team is frequently overlooked by companies as they develop their priorities for growth, said Melea McRae, noting just 97 percent of these ventures are leaving innovation on the table by ignoring this clear strategy to scale.

Crux-Xcelerate (Crux-X), the sister company of Kansas City “un-agency” Crux KC, is tackling this challenge by combining sales coaching engagement — led by chief sales officer and motivational speaker John Hall — with marketing expertise, said McRae, co-founder and CEO of Crux-Xcelerate. 

“In my history of working in marketing and partnering with sales teams I noticed that if sales and marketing can unite, that’s the symphony that produces the revenue and the growth that these companies want to realize,” she said.

Shifting the model

In 2019, McRae co-founded Crux-X with investor Rick Kahle, senior vice president at Alliant Insurance Services. Initially, they offered fractional sales support but pivoted during the pandemic, recognizing a need for a model reinvention based on client feedback.

Melea McRae, Crux KC

“What we found was it was becoming very challenging to match a salesperson’s industry experience to that company’s industry,” said McRae. “What they really needed — versus an outside salesperson — was somebody who would come in, coach, and develop their existing sales team.” 

Armed with those observations, the Crux-X team shifted in 2021 from outsourced sales to a sales coaching engagement that focuses on developing the sales team, establishing KPIs, creating a sales process playbook, and offering one-on-one coaching to individualize the training. 

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Making a key hire

Hall, now chief sales officer for the company, joined Crux-X in May 2023 with a wealth of experience from Madison Square Garden, NFL, NBA, and NHL. With his extensive background in sports, entertainment, marketing, and motivational speaking, Hall’s own mission perfectly aligned with Crux-Xcelerate’s belief system, he said.

John Hall, Crux-X

“I’m very big on sustainable missions. For me, my personal, sustainable mission is to make people’s lives better,” Hall said.

Before his hire, Hall already had moved into the arenas of business development and coaching, evolving his skillset to teach sales engagement to address broader company needs. His approach, highlighted by the presentation “Coaching Up! Passionately Sharing Winning Strategies” led to speaking engagements. 

“Anytime you’re addressing an audience or someone that you’re coaching, when you see that energy and they’re excited about what they’re getting ready to tackle, not only does it make them excited, it also makes management excited,” he said.

In 2022, Crux-X invited Hall to present to its team, a pivotal moment in his involvement with the organization, leading to his eventual onboarding, and Crux-X’s shift to more personable coaching.

“The most important aspect of (sales coaching) is that it’s a combination of both professional and personal enrichment,” said Hall. “If we don’t spend a little bit of time on the human element, and not just on the business element, then I think we are losing an opportunity to get the most out of a company’s valuable employees.”

Crux-KC team

Roadmap for retention, better sales

Crux-X’s six-month coaching curriculum empowers sales teams by covering alignment, messaging, and marketing tools in month one. Month 2 explores branding, month 3 focuses on demand, month 4 is land, and month 5 is expand. The final month recaps the lessons, including behavioral analysis and homework. 

The final month recaps the lessons, including behavioral analysis and homework. 

“I think the key to the success of this program is two things. No. 1, executive coaching, and one-on-one sales coaching with each member of the sales team. No. 2, it’s the fusion of sales and marketing,” said McRae.

As part of the curriculum, clients are offered a sales playbook, a stable go-to for onboarding new salespeople or for an exit strategy later down the line. It plays a vital role in relationship development by teaching diverse prospecting strategies and breaking down key performance indicators (KPIs), including weekly and daily metrics.

“We do that so that they have a roadmap of where they need to go, but then meld that traditional sales strategy with coaching that offers personal enrichment,” said Hall. “Building relationships is at the core of business development and sales. If a salesperson is inspired personally that can’t help but to be inspired professionally.”

McRae added, “It’s a morale booster, equipping the sales team with more tools in their toolbox, and also building competence for those sales team members to stick around.”