The Best Book on Building a SaaS Sales Team

If you want to understand how to build a great SaaS sales organization, you should read Mark Roberge’s The Sales Acceleration Formula. It’s the single best book on the topic.

Mark is the Chief Revenue Office at Hubspot, a company which has created tremendous success by perfecting the inbound marketing plus sales model. The book is invaluable for every founder, CEO and member of the management team because it not only explains how the Hubspot sales team is structured, but why the structure came to be.

The first employee at Hubspot and tasked with building the sales team, Mark developed a structured interview to qualify candidates and correlated the attributes of the best sales candidates. His list surprised me. Preparation, Adaptability, Domain Experience, Intelligence and Passion are the five characteristics of people most likely to succeed in Hubspot’s sales teams.

With this knowledge in hand, Mark created a quantitative candidate assessment. Based on the linear regression mentioned above, the scorecard established hiring consistency and enabled the team to grow predictably. In addition, he shares the questions used to evaluate where a candidate falls along the spectrum of these five characteristics. The best part about this section is that it provides a framework for each company to determine the characteristics of the right sales people for their startup.

The book reveals how Hubspot’s sales teams brought the same rigorous and quantitative mentality to training sales people, managing sales teams, developing compensation plans and cultivating sales leaders, critical topics that haven’t been discussed openly enough in Startupland.

The book addresses the crucial relationship between the sales and marketing teams in SaaS companies, and describes the compact the sales and marketing teams at Hubspot reached to enabled each other to support and accelerate each other’s success.

The image above describes an insight that formed the basis for the agreement between the sales team and the marketing team. In traditional Outbound Sales, leads are first screened for whether they are a good potential fit for a product, a task typically completed by the marketing team. The account executives must then determine whether the customer experiences enough pain in the status quo to buy a product.

In Inbound Sales, the model Hubspot perfected, the lead qualification steps are reversed. Through content marketing and education, the marketing team creates a funnel of people who suffer from pain, and it’s the AEs who must test for product fit.

This seemingly small difference is an important one, a wave whose ripples cascade through the organization.

Because The Sales Acceleration Formula presents a series of logical and straightforward frameworks for constructing all the key disciplines of a startup’s sales team, I think it’s the single best book on SaaS sales, and every founder should read it.

Published 2015-03-24 in SaaS  Startups  Sales 


Tomasz Tunguz is partner at Redpoint. I write daily, data-driven blog posts about key questions facing startups. I co-authored the book, Winning with Data. Join more than 20,000 others receiving these blog posts by email.


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