Gusto’s new Chief Sales Officer, Kenny Wyatt: “Growing salespeople is my passion”
Kenny Wyatt has taken on the challenge of being the first Chief Sales Officer at Gusto, a payroll, benefits and HR technology platform for small businesses. He takes on the role at a crucial stage in the company’s growth, following the arrival of more than 500 new employees over the past four years, and plans to double in size in half that time.
Wyatt explains how Gusto’s ‘people platform’ helps more than 60,000 businesses focus on what they are best at and extols the virtues of high-performance teams – and how to create them.
You’re the first chief sales officer at Gusto. What drew you to taking on the role?
First of all, I was attracted to the product that Gusto had built and aligned with its mission. The second point was the people. Despite its fast growth, Gusto has a rigorous recruitment process that ensures that everyone is aligned with the mission to serve our small business customers. What that creates, in turn, is a very mission-oriented company where everyone is focused on serving our customers and serving them well.
So who are your customers?
Gusto’s product is targeted at 6 million small and midsize businesses (SMBs) in the US – 5.8 million of them have fewer than 100 employees. I’ve built my entire career, from banking to communications, on this customer segment which is a highly underserved B2B segment in the US. From payroll and benefits to onboarding ¬– everything to do with how they treat their employees – they are underserved.
Gusto has done a phenomenal job of building a product aimed directly at that specific mission and the problems that these small businesses have. If we can help them treat their employees better, they can then build better products and services, and ultimately create better experiences for their own customers.
You talk about Gusto as a ‘people platform’ – what do you mean by that?
A people platform is basically an all-in-one technology service that unlocks a business’ back-office operations. These responsibilities include HR, onboarding, payroll and benefits and they are vitally important because if people aren’t paid, they won’t work for you. But they take an inordinate amount of time away from the business’s focus on its core activities – it’s a time suck. So, our people platform allows small business to wear fewer hats and just focus on making their business great.
Throughout your career you have been responsible for leading large teams. Have you always been driven to be a leader?
I am driven every day by a number of factors. It’s the mission of the company and being able to able to build and scale a company, such as Gusto, around a high-performance culture. And it’s growing sales people through their career inside the company and training them on how to be a sales professional. That’s what I love to do, it’s my passion, and it’s why Gusto was a perfect match for me.
So you were attracted to joining a company in such a critical growth stage?
We have 600 professionals in Denver that will easily double over the next couple of years, and which will be matched by our presence in San Francisco. I was excited to take on the challenge of maintaining the culture that made Gusto great, while also scaling at an exponential pace.
How would you define a high-performance culture?
A high-performance culture is, firstly, one in which you can recruit professionals who love both the product and the customer. And that is really all about recruiting the right people up front who are like-minded about your mission. The second aspect is training. You have to train sales professionals about the customer, the problems they face every single day and how you as a company can step in and help those problems. It’s not “selling” – it’s coming alongside that small business customer and helping them. And, finally, you have to want to be part of a high-performance culture and want to push yourself both as an individual and as part of a team. And it’s not compromising on any of those aspects at any point along the way.