The four secrets to HubSpot’s scalability by Mark Roberge

by Phil Freo

Close.io is at today’s Sales Hacker Conference in San Francisco and we’ll be taking notes and sharing the best talks of the conference with you. List of all talks.

Mark Roberge

What is this talk about?

How to hire, treat and train your salespeople so that you get predictable, scalable revenue growth.

Who is Mark Roberge, SVP of Sales, Hubspot?

Mark is responsible for the entire sales and services function at HubSpot, increasing revenue over 6,000% and expanding the team from 1 to 200 employees in five years.  These results placed HubSpot #33 on the 2011 INC 500 Fastest Growing Companies list.  Mark was also awarded the 2010 Salesperson of the Year at the MIT Sales Conference.

The HubSpot sales mission: Predictable, scalable revenue growth

  1. Hiring the same type of successful salesperson scalably each time.
  2. Train each salesperson the same way.
  3. Provide them the same quantity and quality of leads.
  4. Hold them accountable to the same expectations as every other salesperson

Tip 1: Hire the same type of successful salesperson

When interviewing look for patterns and predictability. You should be able to identify traits that are required for successful people at your company.

For example, the three criteria Mark Roberge was originally evaluating candidates by were:

  • Closing ability
  • Aggression
  • Coachability

He realized after the first year that coachability is the crucial element of success at HubSpot. During his interview process, he provides coaching and training and if they take the training well, then that’s a good indicator for later success.

When you are hiring, don’t look for unemployed people. Good sales people are never unemployed. If they are unemployed, they probably aren’t good at sales

Hiring the right type of salesperson can’t be done via Monster.com or Craigslist. Sometimes agencies and recruiters can help.

But the best way is to actively and passively recruit by tapping into:

  • Your team’s network of friends and acquaintances
  • Networking at events and online
  • Passive recruiting on LinkedIn
  • Taking meetings with salespeople

Tip 2: Train your salespeople the same way

Many companies train their new salespeople by giving them a two-page sales manual and letting them shadow a senior sales rep for a month.

But there are inherent flaws in this approach:

  • They will learn another person’s personal style.
  • Most people do one thing exceptionally well and other things mediocre.
  • If you train under someone who does a skill set well that you don’t, it will end poorly.

This is how they train new salespeople at HubSpot:

  • The sales playbook defines:
    • Unique value proposition
    • Target customer
    • Competition
    • Common objections
    • Product information
    • Etc.
  • Salespeople are trained as consultants or experts.
  • Exams and certification programs are used to ensure salespeople have deep expertise around product/market.

Sales reps at HubSpot take a 150 question test that helps them to find their strengths and what their "killer skill set" is.

You need to encourage them to leverage that skill set. Find a way of helping your sales reps to recognize and leverage their individual killer skill set.

Today in the world of SaaS when people can buy on their own, sales is more about being a trusted advisor than an aggressive salesperson.

For example, new salespeople at HubSpot don’t do any sales for the first three weeks on the job. They use HubSpot for three weeks and are asked to do everything (build a site, set up a campaign run a blog, etc.), so that they have hands-on experience with the product.

Tip 3: Provide sales people with the same quantity and quality of leads

Provide content that will drive traffic. Set up a blog!

Go to a local school (university) and find a journalism student and have them write content for a few hours a week.

Have them interview you, your engineering team, or your executive leadership team.

They will start compiling these interviews and create an ebook and blog posts.

In promoting the ebook and blogs, they will put links on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs that will drive traffic back to your site.

The Four Secrets To HubSpot’s Scalability by Mark Roberge

The best way to go about this is to create a content calendar, so that you know when you will publish what on which platform. Here’s an example of how this could look:

The Four Secrets To HubSpot’s Scalability by Mark Roberge

Tip 4: Hold sales reps accountable to a sales process

Hold sales reps accountable to a sales process

1. Today’s new motto is “always be helping” rather than “always be closing”.

  • Your prospects are 57% of the way through the buying process when you get to them.

2. Equip your sales team with how you found the leads they are reaching out to. Its important to let your sales team know how I (as a salesperson) called you.

  • When you are leaving messages and emails it is really important to reference the specific reason you are reaching out. This is only possible if you know how a lead got into your system.

3. Make sure your sales reps are reaching out to people who are giving buying signals.

  • If they are tweeting about your company or visiting your page, use that to your advantage.

4. You shouldn’t be cold pitching new leads, you should be pitching them based on client info you learned prior to the call.

5. If they give you a question, then you increase the likelihood of a close on a cold call from .5% to ~10%.

6. Maximize the time your managers are coaching.

  • When coaching or training, teach one skill set at a time and do not overwhelm them.
  • Allow people to grow up slowly and at a realistic pace

7. Use metrics to find sales reps weak points and then provide coaching based on metrics that are not where they should be.

  • When giving feedback, make the feedback as granular as possible. The more specific you can be, the more helpful you will be.

Image credits: HubSpot slideshow for the 2013 Sales Hacker Conference

Next steps

  1. Check out notes from other talks from Sales Hacker Conference.
  2. Try out Close.io to track your sales communication automatically.