Sprout Social’s Ryan Barretto on Scaling a Tech Company for High-Growth

August 28, 2023

As a 5x SaaS entrepreneur, I know that scaling a startup for high-growth requires a blend of strategic vision, relentless execution, and a deep understanding of customers.

As we aspire to build G2 into a meaningful public company, our team was grateful for the recent opportunity to hear from a leader who has helped execute a successful IPO: Ryan Barretto, President of Sprout Social.  

Ryan joined us in Chicago at our company-wide Midyear Meetup, sharing his insights and lessons for growing a tech company based on his experience at Salesforce and now Sprout Social.

5 guiding principles for high-growth

Based on our conversation, I’ve summarized Ryan’s top takeaways, forming his playbook for other business leaders looking to scale their companies for high-growth. 

The following have served as Ryan’s five guiding principles throughout his career.

1. Sales as a foundation

Despite having a Master's degree in marketing, Ryan’s first job was in sales – a move inspired by his father's advice that understanding sales is crucial for an executive.

This early experience in sales, Ryan suggests, is foundational. It equips you with the skills to understand the customer's perspective, which is invaluable as you move up the ladder.

2. The voice of the customer ingrained in your DNA

Sprout Social’s success, according to Ryan, is deeply tied to its focus on customers. The company prioritizes being a "joy to do business with."

In a competitive landscape, the customer’s voice is paramount. With over 2,500 reviews on G2, Ryan’s team leverages authentic customer feedback from reviews extensively in their sales, marketing, and investor efforts.

3. The art of prioritization: the 80/20 rule 

Scaling a company is synonymous with being inundated with potential directions and initiatives. It’s a whirlwind, and you can easily lose sight of the forest for the trees.

This is why Ryan emphasizes the importance of prioritization, always – but especially during tough times. He applies the 80/20 rule, where a small number of actions will drive the majority of your results.

4. Adaptability for growth and resilience

Ryan’s journey with Sprout Social has also been one of geographical expansion, growing from a primarily U.S.-focused company to a global entity.

This expansion wasn't just about opening new offices; it was about adapting to new markets, a crucial step for any growing tech company. He also sees adaptability as a key trait for companies aiming to emerge stronger from difficult periods. 

5. Efficiency for all

The AI revolution is ushering in new opportunities to help people work faster, smarter, and more efficiently. Ryan is excited about the potential of AI, both as a tool for internal productivity and as a feature in Sprout Social’s product.

Customers can embrace Sprout Social’s AI functionality to determine the best time of day for optimal posting and soon will have access to even more intelligent social listening insights, while Ryan and his team use AI for content creation, social customer care, and other research.

Attainable, sustainable growth

As I reflect on Ryan’s insights and our shared experiences as tech leaders, I’m reminded of the importance of remaining laser-focused on our long-term vision: doubling down on our culture and customers.

His story validates my optimistic belief that when we come out of this downturn, high-growth is not just attainable, it’s sustainable – with the right foundation, a customer-centric culture, and an emphasis on prioritization, adaptability, and efficiency. 

leading through change
Refuse to lose

Check out Godard's recap of Freshworks CMO Stacey Epstein's insightful and inspiring lesson on leading through change.

leading through change
Refuse to lose

Check out Godard's recap of Freshworks CMO Stacey Epstein's insightful and inspiring lesson on leading through change.

Sprout Social’s Ryan Barretto on Scaling a Tech Company for High-Growth Ryan Barretto, President of Sprout Social, shares his leadership lessons for scaling a tech company for high-growth. https://learn.g2.com/hubfs/Content-MYMULeadershipBlogPosts-RyanBaretto-FeaturedImage@2x.png
Godard Abel Godard Abel is the co-founder and CEO of G2. He previously built cloud CPQ pioneers BigMachines (acquired by Oracle) and SteelBrick (acquired by Salesforce). https://learn.g2.com/hubfs/Vendor%20Microsite/landing/headshot-godard@2x.png https://www.linkedin.com/in/godardabel/

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