Chief Operating Officer, 10+ Years of Digital Marketing Experience
August 11th, 2015
When Mark Roberge first joined forces with Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan, HubSpot (and the concept of inbound marketing) was in its infancy. Mark’s job as the new SVP was to create scalable, predictable revenue growth.
An engineer by trade, Mark applied his analytical approach to devise a formula for sales that took HubSpot to a 100 million dollar company in seven short years.
As any good engineer would do, Mark reviewed his success and created a blueprint to modernize today’s sales organizations in The Sales Acceleration Formula. As any good inbound marketing agency would do, we thought we’d share and summarize his teachings to help you create scalable, predictable revenue growth.
The Sales Acceleration Formula is comprised of four components:
1.The Sales Hiring Formula
2.The Sales Training Formula
3.The Sales Management Formula
4.The Demand-Generation Formula
In addition to the breakdown of his formula for sales success, Mark also provides real HubSpot examples to illustrate and help you apply his concepts, as well as more the advanced concepts HubSpot now uses after iterating and improving.
Below is a brief summary of the sage advice provided by Mark, as well as how we applied it at IMPACT.
The Sales Hiring Formula
Before you can grow your company to millions in revenue a year, you probably need to hire some salespeople, right? According to Mark, “world-class sales hiring is the biggest driver of sales success.”
When Mark joined HubSpot, he was the fourth employee – and the first salesperson. His first task was to hire good salespeople.
Rather than employ a typical process of hiring the top performers from other companies or recruiting an SVP from a competitor, Mark took a different approach.
First of all, there weren’t a lot of companies like HubSpot at the time. The “competition” either went after enterprise-only, a segment HubSpot did not cater to at the time, or they had a completely different value proposition.
Instead, Mark reached back into his metrics-driven background to create this formula for hiring success.
Step 1: Define the characteristics of a successful salesperson
Make an educated guess on the characteristics you believe make a good salesperson. This is different for every company. It depends on your value proposition and the type of sale (transactional vs. complex.)
Devise a way to test your candidates on these characteristics. What questions can you ask in your interviews? What activities can you do that enables these traits to come to the surface?
Create an interview scorecard to evaluate your candidates against your desired characteristics.
Learn and iterate on the model. After 6 months, compare your top performers and their initial interview scorecard. Do the characteristics correlate? Are there other traits that now seem to be a better indicator of success?
Mark found at HubSpot, the characteristics that predicted the most success were coachability, curiosity, prior success, intelligence and work ethic, but this will be different for every company.
Step 2: Find top-performing salespeople
To help him find candidates that met this criterion, Mark first began working with recruiting agencies. However, he found outside recruiters to be incentivized to match candidates to higher paying jobs, which meant higher commission for them.
He proposes instead to build an internal recruiting agency. You can incentivize your own recruiters based on your own fill rates, timing, and long-term success of the hires they make.
Mark also suggests utilizing LinkedIn to its fullest potential to source qualified candidates. Top sales performers don’t usually need to apply for a job – employers come to them. You need to be one of those employers.
Step 3: Determine your ideal first hire
Mark presents a scenario comprised of:
a former SVP from a competitor with a very different value proposition and structure
a former salesperson from a competitor with a very different value proposition and structure
an entrepreneur with sales experience but not in your industry, and
a sales manager not in your industry.
Mark would choose the entrepreneur to hire first.
Her sales fundamentals and her entrepreneurial spirit made her ideal in helping accelerate the company toward product/market fit. Without a formal sales training or experience in a large corporation with rigid structure, she would be coachable and have the tenacity to help a young HubSpot reach its goals.
Whoever your company chooses, be sure they align with your goals, the maturity level of your business, and the characteristics you have deemed necessary for a successful salesperson.
The Sales Training Formula
The traditional ride-along approach does not take into account the individual “super powers” of your salespeople.
Some may be extremely personable and others may be great at volume. Shadowing someone of a different super power doesn’t allow a salesperson to understand his or her strengths and how they can make the job their own. Plus, it’s neither scalable nor predictable.
Instead, Mark proposes a systemized training program around the buyer journey, the sales process and the qualifying matrix.
The excerpt below explains in more detail.
“Starting with the buyer journey increases the likelihood that the buyer's needs will remain front and center during all aspects of the selling process…Once the buyer journey is defined, the sales process can be created. The sales process supports the customer along his buying journey…The qualifying matrix defines the information needed from a potential buyer in order to understand whether we can help the prospective buyer and whether the buyer wants help. The information is gathered at various stages of the sales process. It is rarely gathered in the same order across different deals.”
With the sales methodology defined, you can then create a sales training curriculum.
To constantly iterate and improve upon your training, analyze the criteria of your successful sales people against your training program. Make sure your training program aligns with the needs of your team, and ask for regular feedback.
Bonus Tip: One of the most helpful exercises your training can provide is allowing your salespeople to walk in your prospects’ shoes. For example, every HubSpot sales rep has started a blog and used social media to amass a following. When it comes to helping their prospects, they have real experience and empathy to apply to their prospects.
The Sales Management Formula
Mark professes sales coaching is the most important lever to drive sales productivity. Rather than throw 15 skills out that your sales staff needs to work on, he explains how it’s best to choose one skill each month.
To illustrate, he provides an example about learning a proper golf swing. If on your first lesson, your coach gives you pointers about your stance, your backswing, your grip, your follow through and more, your head will be spinning.
Instead, if your coach tells you to correct your grip and take 100 swings, it starts to sink in. Then you can move on to the next skill.
Facilitating a culture of sales coaching (vs. managing), Mark devised a process in which sales managers can meet with their team members each month for open dialogue around their skills. However, this isn’t a meeting where the manager tells the salesperson everything their doing wrong.
Instead, your salespeople should come to the meeting having already reflected upon what they’d like to improve. You mutually agree on what you’d like to work on, and set up a plan to do so. This enables accountability and buy-in with your salespeople.
Don't Have Time to Read The Full Book?
Don't worry, we've got you covered. In our full summary of The Sales Acceleration Formula, we'll continue our dive into Mark Roberge's secret formula, how you can apply it to your organization, and how we use it at IMPACT.
To view the full summary, click "continue reading" below.
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