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Case studies


How Flow State helped CharlieHR boost their close rate by 9%


Close rate increased from 29% to


Average deal size increased by over


Target attainment increased from 116% to


Charlie has built its business on one core belief: Companies that focus on their people will always outperform those that don’t. The easy-to-use platform helps small businesses automate HR tasks, manage processes and keep all their team data in one place, enabling them to build a great workplace culture.

Timi Olotu is the Director of Revenue at Charlie, responsible for the sales and marketing organisations as well as the company’s overall commercial strategy and performance. He joined Charlie in 2021 as part of a long-term strategy to become more commercially focused and effective.

“Our ultimate goals are very macro,” he explains, “but to achieve those I need to make sure a lot of micro things are working well.”

At a high level, that means ensuring the business acquires customers quicker and that its revenue growth rate is high enough. It also includes an element of change management in terms of the culture of the company, teams, people and performance standards.

On a day-to-day basis, this involves understanding the individual components in sales, marketing and any related functions that need to be in tip-top shape for Charlie to hit its target annual growth rate. Timi then works with the people who head those specialist areas to ensure that’s happening.

“I’m a big believer in thinking of myself as an investigator rather than a genius. I don’t come into a job thinking that I have all the answers, that I know everything there is to know about sales and marketing.”

The challenge

For his role at Charlie, Timi started by appraising the situation as thoroughly as possible, auditing areas like marketing operations, sales operations, strategy and tactics. This revealed a limited sales operation.

“It was essentially just people talking to entirely inbound leads in whatever way they felt was best. There was no sales process, no sales strategy, no sales structure, no pipeline management process, no forecasting process — it was just very underdeveloped and, as a result, it wasn’t performing at the level that we needed it to.”

Perhaps more importantly, the lack of any defined process or methodology meant it was impossible to see where deals were falling through the cracks.

In all, Timi identified three main layers of underdevelopment:

  • Sales methodology
  • Sales operations
  • Individual sales skills

“I knew I couldn’t tackle all three layers myself, so I decided I would tackle the operations and outsource the sales methodology and skills training to Flow State.

The solution

Our objective was to create a global community of “team leader coaching machines” who could raise the bar of excellence and bring value-selling methods to life through their teams.

We started by assessing the current coaching competencies, practices and cadences of 14 sales and BDR managers over a 2-week period. We quickly discovered that there was very little focus on coaching the “inputs” (i.e skills and behaviours) and excessive focus on driving activities and outputs. In other words, lots of conversations that were focused on the “what” and very little on the “how” We immediately prioritised the delivery of three key projects:

  1. Codifying the skills and practices required for value-selling.
  2. Training the entire sales organisation on value-selling essentials over an 8-week period.
  3. Training and mentoring managers on how to become effective coaches, and guiding them to develop and implement a new coaching framework to support lasting behavioural change in their reps.

Over a 6-month period we worked closely with the CRO, sales leadership, line managers, reps, sales enablement and sales operations teams to encourage both strategic alignment and operational execution on the program. Outside of scheduled training sessions, we also regularly facilitated 1-1 and group coaching sessions, observed deal and pipeline reviews, developed coaching scorecards and responded to ad-hoc requests from managers and reps to help embed new learnings and foster collaboration..

A solid foundation for revitalised sales

By putting clearly defined processes and methodologies in place and training the team against them, Timi saw a significant positive impact on the team’s sales performance. Close rate increased by 9% and target attainment both increased by 15% after the engagement.

There was also an increase in average deal size came, which came as a surprise to Timi; with no suite of products, there isn’t much opportunity for reps to upsell or cross-sell. Charlie’s scalable pricing is based on company size, so bigger companies pay more, but that also usually means more complex deals and more sophisticated requirements — something that had previously been a challenge for the sales team.

However, as a consequence of Flow State’s training and coaching programme, the sales team recognised the importance of the discovery phase. While reps would previously spend five minutes (at most) on basic discovery, after the training they were doing anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour of high-quality discovery work.

This gave the reps a far deeper knowledge of the prospect.

They were able to pick up on the key components of a healthy deal such as the prospect company’s compelling event, champions, decision-makers, timelines and budgets. By collating this information in a better and more structured way, the sales reps were in a much stronger position to have persuasive conversations with these bigger clients. As a result, the average deal size increased by 12.13%

Getting reps out of their comfort zone

Timi’s favourite part of the training programme was Flow State’s willingness to take the sales team to an uncomfortable place, balancing empathy with forthright honesty. “Growth is often uncomfortable,” explains Timi. “So anyone who’s going to truly help you grow has to be willing to take you somewhere uncomfortable.”

To achieve this, Raff and Aaron worked closely with the team, embedding themselves in the company and building relationships with the reps. This allowed them to challenge the sales team without it coming across as an attack or in any way negative.

This resulted in cycles, where Aaron and Raff would work with the team to impart new knowledge, new expectations and new standards that they weren’t familiar with or comfortable with. This invariably led to the team being able to improve and level up their skills. In turn, they would feel more positive about themselves and their work, which led to better performance.

“One of our salespeople who was going through the training took a sales call at home, where her roommate overheard the whole thing. After she hung up, her roommate (completely unprompted) said to her: “Wow, you’ve gotten way better. What’s going on? What have you changed?” This roommate had no idea that this training was taking place, but intuitively felt that the sales call was way better.”

What the future holds for Charlie

Since Timi joined Charlie, the company’s fundamental strategy has been to focus on the HR management software market and to improve its ability to attract and acquire new software customers.

Thanks to Timi and his work with Flow State, they’ve been able to solve a huge part of that equation. Even through the recession, they’ve managed to dramatically increase the demand for the software. Going forward, Timi wants to further improve their ability to close that increased demand.

Meanwhile, Timi wholeheartedly recommends Flow State to other SaaS businesses looking to improve their sales process. “There are many facets to the work they do, but the net effect is that each minute of your salesperson’s time generates a higher amount of revenue. They’re smarter about the way they think, they’re more organised, they’re more structured, they’re more strategic, they ask better questions, they make better decisions.

“All of that means that at the minute level, as they’re going through the day, they’re making more and more profitable decisions about where and how to invest their time. And Aaron and Raff give them all the skills they need to do that.”


“There are many facets to the work they do, but the net effect is that each minute of your salesperson’s time generates a higher amount of revenue… And Aaron and Raff give them all the skills they need to do that.”

Timi Oluto
CRO, CharlieHR
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