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I received an email from Mark Roberge, asking me if he could guest post on our blog this week to bring attention to his new book, “The Sales Acceleration Formula,” which is being released today.  We get a lot of requests like this and respectfully decline virtually 100% of the time.  

 

Why?

 

Our audience is comprised of CEOs, sales leaders and marketing leaders. They are very busy and yet, make the time to read our work. I have asked them why they pay attention to our publications. The answer is the quality and relevancy of the content, especially The SBI Magazine, The SBI Podcast, and The SBI Blog. As a result of this feedback, we are hypersensitive as to what we publish and what we don’t. This usually means no guest posts.  

 

I am taking a chance today by publishing Mark’s guest post (see below).  The reason I am doing this is because Mark is legit. He grew HubSpot’s sales team from 1 to 450 reps and in the process helped HubSpot have a successful IPO and now has a $1 billion market cap. How many sales leaders can make this claim? Very few. He is qualified to speak with you. 

 

I think you, our special audience, will learn from this post, and from his book.  

 

Let me know what you think in the comments section.

 

A Simple Framework to Avoid Unfavorable Revenue Surprises in 2015

Written by Mark Roberge

 

In my role as SVP of Sales and Service at HubSpot, my organization grew from 1 to 450 people in a matter of a few years.  My biggest worry as the organization scaled was foreseeing major issues as early as possible.  Unfortunately for many sales leaders, missing the quarterly revenue target is the first sign that something is wrong.  However, the quarterly revenue results are the lagging indicator of all lagging indicators.  If this is the first time the leader recognizes the issue, it is often too late.  

 

There are dozens of performance areas within the ecosystem of the sales organization that need to be constantly monitored.  Unfortunately, missing a downturn in just one could mean quarters and quarters of revenue under-performance for the company.  When it comes to monitoring sales organization performance, time is the most critical asset.  Hence my key question: 

 

How can I foresee critical performance areas issues within a sales organization as early as possible without requiring 150 hours per week to do so? 

 

I call this desire “scale-able visibility.”  

 

In order to organize my efforts around “scale-able visibility,” I created a simple framework called the 4Ps: People, Process, Pipeline, and Playbooks.  I relied heavily on this framework during business reviews with my division Vice Presidents, monthly analysis of the state of the business, and weekly KPI reviews. 

 

Below is a brief description of each component of the 4Ps as well as some “scale-able visibility” techniques to monitor them. 

 

People

“People” refers to maintaining the quality bar of sales people and sales leaders within the organization.  “People” is the most important of the 4Ps.  It is the most difficult to detect early issues and also the most difficult to recover from if issues are not detected early.  

 

Here are some examples of the questions I worry about in the “People” category:

 

  1. Are we maintaining our quality bar on hiring salespeople?
  2. Do we have enough sales candidates in our pipeline to hit our hiring goals next quarter?
  3. Have we maintained our effectiveness in developing our salespeople?
  4. Are we maintaining a positive morale amongst the team?
  5. Are we developing future leaders quickly enough to meet our management requirements as we continue to scale? 

     

Here are some examples of “scale-able visibility” techniques I used for the “People” category:

 

  1. Weekly report out by recruiting of our sales candidate pipeline
  2. Post-training 30-day assessments for each new hire from the Sales Training Director
  3. Anonymous employee net promoter scores about their job and manager
  4. 0-6 month pipeline performance of the recent new hire cohort relative to past cohorts
  5. Average time to promotion of salespeople to senior salespeople relative to past cohorts

 

Process

“Process” ensures that the best practice processes we devised for managing sales opportunities, sales hire candidates, and salespeople development plans are being executed properly.  

 

Here are some examples of the questions I worry about in the “Process” category:

 

  1. Are salespeople following our sales process for every prospect pursuit?
  2. Are sales managers adhering to our skill development processes with their salespeople?
  3. Are hiring managers and recruiters running a comprehensive interview process for every candidate? 

     

Here are some examples of “scale-able visibility” techniques for the “Process” category:

 

  1. Request recordings of discovery calls and demos that I can listen to on my commute
  2. Run an opportunity pursuit end-to-end with a salesperson
  3. Spot check interview assessment scorecards for each step of the sales process

 

Pipeline

“Pipeline” refers to the activity and opportunity pipeline that will hopefully turn into revenue.  Most organizations focus the majority of their energy in this area.  It is certainly one of the easier categories to monitor and typically has the shortest elapsed time between leading indicators and lagging results. 

 

Here are some examples of the questions I worry about in the “Pipeline” category:

 

  1. Do we have the pipeline to hit our quarterly target?
  2. Are we generating enough demand to set us up for next quarter?
  3. Has lead quality remained at or above historic levels?

 

Here are some examples of “scale-able visibility” techniques for the “Pipeline” category:

 

  1. Marketing Service Level Agreement based on lead quality and quantity
  2. Demand generation activity reports
  3. Forecasts adjusted to the historic variance between projected and actual by salesperson

 

Playbooks

“Playbooks” refer to the strategic tactics that you, the sales leader, and the organization are focusing on this quarter.  These tactics could be pushing a new product, penetrating a new industry, adopting a new sales methodology, etc.  

 

Every quarter, I documented the 3 or 4 “Playbooks” that we were prioritizing and, most importantly, how we quantified success for each one.  I asked my division heads to create a version of the strategy for their specific organizations.  Throughout the quarter, we reported out our progress against the “Playbook” goals to hold ourselves accountable to the quarterly strategy. 

 

Whether the 4P’s is the right framework for you, I hope this discussion on “scale-able visibility” has triggered ideas on staying ahead of issues and keeping your organization’s revenue stream on track. 

 

If you liked this article, check out Mark Roberge’s new book that launched this week, “The Sales Acceleration Formula,” about his experience in building the HubSpot sales team.