Book Summary: The Sales Acceleration Formula

Mark Roberge is the third employee of Hubspot, a marketing automation business. He met the two co-founders while they were all students at MIT. They all had the same goal in mind: to assist enterprises in transitioning from outbound to inbound marketing.

He jotted down four words the night he started at the company: scalable, predictable revenue growth. That was his responsibility.

He brought Hubspot from zero to well over $100 million in annual sales in just seven years. He achieved it using four particular methods, all of which were based on phrases he scribbled on a notepad the night he started working for the company:

  • Every time, hire the same effective salesperson.
  • Every salesman should be trained in the same manner.
  • Hold all of our salespeople to the same sales procedure.
  • Every month, provide the same quality and number of leads to our salesmen.

The Sales Hiring Formula, The Sales Training Formula, The Sales Management Formula, and The Demand Generation Formula are aspects that Roberge currently refers to.

Let's take a look at each one separately.

The Sales Hiring Formula

Searching for people to be hired.

As Roberge makes out, the most significant driver of sales performance is world-class sales hiring.

Even if you are an expert in sales training, management, and coaching, it will never be enough to compensate for a team of underperforming salespeople.

Every salesperson has advantages and disadvantages. And each firm has its own distinct sales environment. One of the first lessons Roberge learned was that a salesperson's talents needed to match the atmosphere of the transaction.

A sales representative who excelled in one field may not excel in another. The initial stage in this process is to develop a hypothesis of optimal selling qualities.

Like Roberge, you'll want to spend some time putting your idea to the test with real data. The five traits he discovered that identified and predicted sales success at Hubspot are:

  1. Coachability
  2. Curiosity
  3. Past success
  4. Intellect
  5. Work ethic

After that, you'll want to put up an interview process to see if your sales prospect possesses the perfect traits you've defined.

Doing role-playing activities that mimic your buyer's setting is one of the greatest methods to achieve this. There's no better way to assess a potential sales recruit than to observe them in action.

Finally, you'll need to figure out how to maintain a continuous flow of these applicants to build your business. Instead of hiring an outside recruitment firm, Roberge advises that you create one within your organization. Roberge uses LinkedIn to perform what he refers to as a "forced referral."

Basically, once his current salesperson has been in their job for a few months, he schedules a 20-minute appointment with them. He informs them that he'll show up having gone through all of their LinkedIn connections seeking salespeople in the area.

Then, at the meeting, they go over each of the possible prospects discovered by Roberge and decide which ones are worth inviting in for an interview. Of course, they offer a hiring incentive (at Hubspot, it's $2,500) for each new employee referred by a current agent.

The Sales Training Formula

A girl having training employee session with her boss.

When growing a sales force, you can't afford to provide each new rep a personalized training program tailored to their needs.

The three components you'll need to develop a well-designed sales approach are as follows:

  1. The buyer journey
  2. The sales process
  3. The qualifying matrix

In the buyer journey, it's critical to define the stages your consumer will take from recognizing a pain issue to making a purchase in the buyer journey.

Then, the sales process should be linked with the buyer's journey to ensure that the stages are in sync. Each of these steps should be "inspectable" so that you can see if the stage has been completed.

The qualifying matrix, which specifies the information you require from your prospect to decide whether or not you have a lead worth following, may then be created.

BANT - Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing - is an old-school method of achieving things.

It is vital to your success that your salesmen fully comprehend those three aspects.

Equally crucial is that your salesmen have worked in your clients' day-to-day environment. They should have a thorough understanding of the difficulties they confront, the possibilities they expect to seize, and what keeps them up at night.

When your salespeople accomplish this, they will be able to connect with the customer. They will be able to assist them in making informed purchasing decisions.

The final thing you should think about while educating your salespeople is assisting them in developing a personal brand with your potential clients through social media.

When your salespeople establish themselves as industry thought leaders, they will get a steady stream of cold calls from potential clients demanding their advice.

When done correctly, it essentially flips the sales process on its head.

Having your salesmen walk a mile in your prospects' shoes may be quite beneficial.

Tell them to look up who your options are following on Twitter. Allow them to follow them. Find out which LinkedIn groups your prospects frequent and encourage your salespeople to join them. Find the blogs that your options read and encourage your salespeople to subscribe and comment on them.

The Sales Management Formula

A man having presentation at the office.

You must rigorously manage your salesmen now that you've identified them and properly educated them.

Implementing a coaching culture is one of the most essential things you'll do as a sales leader. The importance of maintaining a regular meeting schedule cannot be overstated. Roberge asks each of his sales managers three questions every month for each and every sales agent in the company:

  • What skill will you work on with this salesman this month?
  • What factors did you consider when selecting that skill?
  • What is the specific coaching strategy you'll employ to improve the skill?

When determining which skill the reps should concentrate on, Roberge insists on using analytics to determine which aspect needs attention.

This is what he refers to as "metrics-driven sales coaching."

Now let's look at how to inspire your salesmen to do the right things. The sales compensation plan is the single most essential weapon you have in your arsenal.

Keep in mind that there is no single "right" compensation plan for everyone. And the "right" plan for you will vary considerably depending on the sort of business you run and where you are in your growth cycle.

However, three things should always be considered while creating your strategy.

First and foremost, the strategy should be straightforward. It's too complex if your salesmen have to consult a spreadsheet to figure out their compensation. You never want a salesman to be unsure of which behaviors would result in the highest commissions.

Second, it should be in line with your company's most essential objectives. Your firm should be meeting its ultimate goals if your salespeople are earning significant commission checks.

Third, the strategy should be implemented right away. When a salesman succeeds, it should be reflected in their remuneration right away. This is basic psychology: any delay between the result and the reward (or lack thereof) reduces the plan's effectiveness.

Finally, Roberge recommends holding a contest when it comes to managing your staff. They're a good way to get people to do the right things in the short term and develop a team culture. Here are some pointers on how to accomplish something well:

  • Align the contest with the behavior change you want to see in the short term.
  • Create a team-based game and award.
  • Every night, provide updated standings.
  • Choose the right time range for your event - monthly competitions are great.
  • One game should be run at a time.

The Demand Generation Formula

A  girl giving review at social media.

What, in your opinion, will make you more inclined to purchase a product or service? If you:

(a) get a cold call or a direct mail piece,

(b) perform a Google search and discover reliable information online, or

(c) get a referral from a friend or family member?

As Roberge points out, the solution is clearly (b), emphasizing the significance of inbound marketing over outbound marketing in today's environment. Inbound marketing success is based on two strategies:

  1. Consistent content creation
  2. Regular online engagement in social media forums where your target consumers are already chatting

Continuous content creation is difficult, especially once the thrill of embarking on a new adventure has worn off. That is why you should not attempt to do the task on your own. The key to this procedure is to designate someone in your organization as a "journalist."

One possibility is to recruit a full-time journalist. Many brilliant journalists are seeking jobs now that the newspaper and magazine businesses are on life support. You also have the option of hiring an intern. A third approach is to assign someone from your organization to work on content development one day each week.

The next stage is to put together a thought leadership committee whose job will be to offer the raw material for your new "journalist" to work with.

A single hour of interview time between a journalist and a member of the thought leadership committee may yield much information. It should be enough to write a five-page ebook, three short blog articles, and hundreds of messages to post on your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles.

It's time to transform that traffic into money now that your content generator is up and operating. The most typical blunder made by businesses when they initially embarked on this path is to send all leads to sales.

Instead of utilizing lead scoring, which some may consider a "best practice," a buyer matrix should be used to decide when leads should be sent from marketing to sales.

The different buyer personas your firm targets, such as the organization's size, will be represented vertically. The numerous stages of the buyer journey will be listed on the horizontal axis.

For example, if you get a lead for a major firm, you might want to put more effort into the front end and contact them right away. If it's a lot smaller company, you might want to hold off until it's obvious that they're ready to buy.

The key is to keep an eye on your results over time. And fine-tune the process to get the most out of each buyer persona.


A man having a very successful business.

Growing a company from zero to $100 million is difficult and only achievable if you know how to develop a sales force effectively.

You'll have the best chance of getting there if you master the four parts of the Sales Acceleration Formula (hiring, training, managing, and generating demand).

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