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Sunday B2B Book Review: The Sales Acceleration Formula by Mark Roberge

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Michael Brown

November 28, 2018
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This Sunday we bring you a book review of The Sales Acceleration Formula by Mark Roberge. Written by employee #3 of Hubspot, Mark is currently a Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School. As the VP of Worldwide Sales and Services from 2007 to 2013, Mark grew the revenue of Hubspot from $0 to $90MM and expanded the team from 1 to 450 employees. We’ve had Mark on our podcast before to talk about his sales hiring formula but have not reviewed his book until today.

We give the book a 4.5 out of 5.0. The book is one of the most practical guides to early revenue generation in SaaS out there. Mark goes deep chapter by chapter on the things that made Hubspot successful in creating and owning their market. He leaves the reader with a bunch of frameworks, toolkits, and tactical takeaways which we found incredibly helpful. We wish the book had spent more time on some of the broader organizational lessons and history of Hubspot but this remains one of the best books out there. Below were a few key takeaways from our book review of The Sales Acceleration Formula.

1. Focus On Customer Success Early On. Mark talks a lot about how founders spend a ton of time on sales but not enough time on customer success in the early days of a start-up. Specifically, he coaches founders in having 80%+ of their new customers over a 60-90 day period in the “green” on whatever customer success scoring system they use internally. Time and time again he sees companies try and scale that have not really figured out the product and stickiness factors. They are not at product / market fit but think they are. As the story goes, they raise money and burn it all on figuring out how to get people to use the product more versus pouring gas on the fire that is repeatability.

2. Coachability Is Key In Sales Hiring. The book goes deep on sales hiring and the attributes that made someone successful as a seller at Hubspot. Within our book review of The Sales Acceleration Formula, we outline the five key things that mattered: they were coachability, curiosity, prior success, intelligence, and work ethic. Mark talks a lot about the coachability factor and how that was the trait that got the highest weight in their internal meeting. It makes sense if you think about it and the book spends a fair amount of time helping founders understand why this attribute matters the most.

3. Sales Reps Should Be Trained Thoroughly In Their Customers Job. Traditional sales training involves shadowing a sales manager, or what is called a “ride-along.” Sales reps are taught to understand the product they are selling and how their colleagues are selling, but Mark moved away from this strategy. What he found that was even more useful was understanding the customer’s situation. As a sales leader you should ensure that your reps understand the ins and outs of the industry they are selling to, the roles of decision makers, and what their job is like daily. Training salespeople in this manner makes it easier for them to utilize their own selling style to more efficiently uncover customer needs and support those needs throughout the process.

4. Aligning Sales & Marketing Through An SLA Is Key In Hybrid Sales Organizations. One of the key takeaways from our book review of The Sales Acceleration Formula is around Mark detailing his implementation of “Service Level Agreements” at Hubspot. The agreements laid down quantifiable expectations that marketing teams owed to sales and what sales owed to marketing. Sales always wants more leads, and marketing wants sales to use the right content and support their leads properly. Creating a framework to address when leads will be passed to sales, how many are expected to be passed, when sales will interact with inbound leads, and what content they will use to support these qualified leads is essential to aligning sales and marketing efforts.

If you liked “Sunday B2B Book Review: The Sales Acceleration Formula by Mark Roberge” and want to read more content from the Bowery Capital Team, check out other relevant posts from the Bowery Capital Blog.