Scaling a SaaS Sales Organisation

A Frontline talk with HubSpot’s Mark Roberge

We were very lucky to host Mark Roberge, Chief Revenue Officer of HubSpot Sales, for a CXO event last week with our portfolio. At HubSpot, Mark increased revenue over 6000% as SVP of Worldwide Sales & Services, and is considered a pioneer in the inbound marketing space.

Mark talked through many of the challenges our early-stage SaaS CEOs are facing — generating and nurturing quality leads, selecting effective marketing channels, measuring success of their sales efforts, and much more.

The full recording of his talk is here:

0:00 Demand generation & inbound strategies
3:42 Channel selection
10:44 Measuring success of inbound efforts
14:00 Social media strategies
16:12 Lead nurturing
17:36 Enterprise sales cycle
19:56 Setting up a sales process
23:07 Price points
28:08 Door-to-door sales
32:06 Incentivization of sales force
35:36 Hiring
42:54 5 criteria for hiring salespeople
43:46 Walkthrough of sales interview
49:46 New territories

Some highlights from the session:

Inbound is important.

  • It comes down to 2 tactics: 1) regularly producing content, and 2) be active in your customers’ conversation on social media.
  • This responsibility should not fall squarely on the C-suite — employees should be continually producing content and blogging. This can be done cost-effectively through interns or college interns from a university journalism program.
  • This strategy was integral to Mark’s division — his second hire was a journalist from the NY Times.

Nurture your leads.

  • Customise and personalise your web content based on various ‘personas’ of your customers. Don’t just change your content/email strategy — even the calls-to-actions on your website can be personalised for better conversion.
  • Marketing, in this sense, is removing a bit of work from sales — appropriate marketing and content can move potential leads down the engagement funnel.
  • Once you get a better understanding on where your leads are coming from, prioritise them based on revenue-generating value.

Set up your sales process based on buyer behavior.

  • Align the various stages of your sales process with how your buyers are behaving, not your salespeople.
  • It is important to define the buying journey — from the perspective of your customer. Think through the various steps buyers go through, even before your product comes to mind.
  • Once you understand that, the steps in the sales process are no longer: “I had a sales call with the decision maker” or “I did a demo.” Instead, the stages are based around leading the potential customer through the journey.
  • For example, Mark uses a “Champion Letter” — after a discovery call with a prospect, a salesperson summarizes the results in a letter he/she sends back to the prospect. The prospect then replies back to it, confirming that the information is accurate. This is a powerful stage of the process, as it provides prospect-ready messaging for the follow-up.

Your first sales hire should be entrepreneurial at heart.

  • Innovative thinking is key to the product-market fit journey. Throughout his/her discovery calls, this first sales hire will help determine what the market wants, contributing back to your product’s iterations.
  • This entrepreneurial spirit is more preferred as the first hire, because he/she is willing to help you build this sales ‘blueprint’ (from which you are going to scale your sales team up) from scratch.
  • The 5 criteria Mark has for technology software salespeople are: coachability, intelligence, work ethic, curiosity, and prior success.
  • Mark tests all of these points in the first interview, outlined fully in the session’s audio above.

Want to learn more? Pre-order Mark’s book The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to go from $0 to $100 Million on Amazon today.

Further suggested reading: Best Practices for Managing SaaS Inside Sales, The Science of Building a Scalable Sales Team

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