This months sales accelerators networking event at HubSpot featured Tim Bertrand (@TimBertrand), SVP WW Sales & Field Ops at Acquia. The focus of the session was how Acquia grew from zero to 100+ million in sales. Tim has lead sales at Acquia since 2009. Acquia was the fastest growing private company in the United States from 2008-2013 - as defined by Deloitte in their Fast 500 study. Tim was interviewed by Andrew Quinn, the Director of Training and Development at HubSpot. A big thank you to HubSpot for hosting and for providing free pizza and beer.
Tim started off by discussing how he cut his teeth in sales. At thirteen, he started working at his father's car dealership selling cars. Thirteen is not a typo! People frequently asked him how old he was when he was on the lot. People would also ask how could a thirteen year old sell cars when he doesn’t even know how to drive. Tim’s secret to success was knowing more about the cars then any other salesman, so at a very early age Tim realized and experienced the importance of exceptional product knowledge.
Another important lesson was transparency when negotiating price. While other sales people were negotiating a discount off the retail price, Tim would grab the cars invoice and ask, “Do you feel that a 15% profit on this $16,000 car is a fair profit?” This transparency led to negotiating a fair profit and not a fair discount, Tim wound up being the highest grossing salesperson at the dealership.
Now on to Acquia. The first thing Acquia does with a new sales hire is to offer a solid onboarding program. They provide the salesperson with the tools and techniques needed to achieve success, they put them through Sandlers Sales Training, they also developed an internal certification program for sales people.
Next, Tim got into how Acquia works their sales funnel and pipeline. The reason they invest so heavily in training is so the salespeople can ask the right questions to move deals through the sales funnel. Deals eventually end up in one of three categories- Outside Chance, Likely, and Committed. (I may have missed the exact terminology, but you get the gist) The next step was very interesting. In order to move forward with a deal, they drafted a “Vision to Close” which had to be signed buy a decision maker at the company. The “Vision to Close” essentially backs into the details of all things that need to happen in order to close a deal by a particular date. We want to sign the contract August 1, so that means we need these particular things to happen things to happen by July 15, which means we need these tasks completed by June 15.
What sometimes happens is a salesperson is dealing with a Champion who is not a decision maker. The salesperson might get happy ears and think because they are getting positive vibes from the champion they are going to get the sale. The problem with dealing with a Champion is that they can only make one decision, which is a “No”. They don’t have the authority to buy, to say “yes”, but they do have the authority to say they don’t want to participate in the sales process anymore. This is where the “vision to close” statement becomes really powerful. If you can’t get access to decision maker’s, red flags go up, you don’t get proper ROI justification and deals fall apart.
Next, Tim talked about what methods they used to scale their sales. First it was Inbound only. Attractive content, leads come in, inside sales teams close the sale. Next they realized as they were attracting large clients those larger clients required more evidence and resources to complete the sale. This required different abilities and a different approach than what the inside sales teams offered. So they went and hired big-time enterprise sales people. Next they got to a point where there wasn’t enough leads for the enterprise sales people to sell to and good luck to get an enterprise sales person to prospect. Next was to develop a team of BDR’s to prospect and generate leads for the enterprise sales team. A common hurdle for most companies at this stage is how to scale the BDR team. What ended up happening is they went back to Inbound, but took a more scientific approach to marketing and use a more prescriptive sales process.
Andrew asked Tim did he ever have what he considered an “Ah-ha moment”. Acquia is big on tracking metrics on the sales people, how many calls they make, how many appointments they set, etc. While doing some analysis Tim listened to 45 different sales conversations from BDR to enterprise sales and he realized that when listening to the 45 conversations, there were 45 different paths taken to the sale. The results were that Tim had to go back to the internal sales training to ensure they were relaying a consistent message to the customers.
Next, Tim got a question from the crowd asking what were the key traits he looks for in a new sales person hire. The top three traits that all sales people must possess are intellectual curiosity, being conscientious, and solutions oriented. For entry level sales positions he wants them to be passionate about something. For enterprise sales positions he wants to hear passion about a particular sale they made.
That’s all I can remember for now. If I missed anything please feel to include it in the comment section below. There will be no Sales Accelerators Event in May, we will see you back in June.